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The University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program is a critical part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) efforts to use cutting-edge technologies and innovations to find solutions to the transportation challenges of the 21st century.

The UTC Program was initiated in 1987 under the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act, which authorized the establishment and operation of transportation centers in each of the 10 standard federal regions. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) reauthorized the UTCs for an additional six years and added four national centers and six University Research Institutes (URIs). The mission of the 14 UTCs was to advance U.S. expertise and technology transfer. The six URIs each had a specific transportation research and development mandate.

In 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) reauthorized the UTC Program for an additional six years and increased the total number of Centers to 33. In addition to the 10 regional Centers, which were to be selected competitively, TEA-21 created 23 Centers at institutions named in the Act. TEA-21 established education as one of the primary objectives of a UTC and institutionalized the use of strategic planning in university grant management.

In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) reauthorized the program, increasing the number of Centers to 60. In addition to the 10 regional Centers, which were competitively selected, 10 Tier-1-funded Centers were competitively selected. All of the UTCs except for the Title III Centers are required to have a one-for-one funding match. The current legislation does not require these centers to match their grant funding dollar for dollar.

The UTC Program is administered by U.S. DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).


The UTC Program ensures that internationally recognized centers of excellence, fully integrated within institutions of higher learning, will continue to serve as vital sources of transportation research, professionals, and leaders to meet the nation's need for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound movement of people and goods.


The UTC Program advances U.S. technology and expertise in transportation through education, research, and technology transfer at university-based centers of excellence.


Each UTC is expected to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Education: Provide a modern, multidisciplinary program of coursework and experiential learning that reinforces the transportation theme of the Center.
  2. Human Resources: Ensure an increased number of students, faculty, and staff who are attracted to and substantively involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the Center.
  3. Diversity: Ensure that students, faculty, and staff who reflect the growing diversity of the U.S. workforce are substantively involved in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of the Center.
  4. Research Selection: Conduct an objective process for selecting and reviewing research that balances the multiple objectives of the program.
  5. Research Performance: Carry on an ongoing program of basic and applied research, the products of which are judged by peers or other experts in the field, to advance the body of knowledge and practice in transportation.
  6. Technology Transfer: Ensure the availability of research results to potential users in forms that can be directly implemented, utilized, or otherwise applied.

Research and Development

Each UTC program focuses its research on a specific transportation theme. Themes vary and run the spectrum of transportation applications. UTCs often collaborate with each other on areas of shared interest, cultivating a community of knowledge. Frequently, they engage in a peer-review process of their work and hold networking events to highlight program milestones and measure the progress of transportation research.

UTC research on cutting-edge innovations like Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration, durable pavement mixtures, and hydrogen fuel cells has contributed to advances in commercial applications through the facilitation of technology transfer to transportation stakeholders in government and industry.

Students participating in UTC research projects will offer a strong pool of continuing expertise in the transportation profession by working with faculty to advance their knowledge and experience. Maintaining a strong, diverse workforce of transportation professionals is vital for America to have a safe, resilient, and globally competitive transportation system.

The Future of the UTC Program

All 60 of the UTC programs nationwide are funded through 2009. Of these,
20 were awarded grants in 2007 following a competitive selection process. The next program competition, subject to continued authorization of the UTC Program by act of Congress, is due to occur in 2010.

For More Information

More information about the UTC Program, including past and current transportation research, can be found online on the USDOT's UTC Website at The website includes:

  • A list of current UTC programs and points of contact, including national, regional, Tier I and II, and Title III Transportation Centers.
  • A search engine for the individual UTC websites, allowing users to find relevant site content using keywords and phrases.

Contact Information

More information can also be obtained by contacting the UTC Program Director, Curtis J. Tompkins at

Other UTC program staff members include:

Amy Stearns, University Programs Specialist
Robin Kline, University Programs Specialist
Lydia Elena Mercado, University Programs Specialist
Denise Dunn, Program Coordinator
Judith Yahoodik, UTC Student of the Year and Strategic Planning Coordinator

Current University Transportation Centers

As provided for in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU

National UTCs
$2 - $3.5 million per year

  • Marshall University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Montana State University
  • Northwestern University (see also Tier II UTC)
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Portland State University
  • University of Alaska
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Wisconsin

Regional UTCs
$1 - $2.25 million per year (competitively selected)


I Massachusetts Institute of Technology
II City College of City University of New York
III Pennsylvania State University
IV University of Tennessee
V Purdue University
VI Texas A&M University
VII University of Nebraska
VIII North Dakota State University
IX University of California, Berkeley
X University of Washington

Tier I UTCs
$1 million per year (competitively selected)

  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Iowa State University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Jose State University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Michigan
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Southern California and California State University, Long Beach

Tier II UTCs
$500,000 per year

  • California State University, San Bernardino
  • Cleveland State University
  • George Mason University
  • Hampton University
  • Kansas State University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northwestern University (see also National UTC)
  • University of Akron
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Delaware in Newark
  • University of Detroit Mercy
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Memphis
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Toledo
  • Utah State University
  • Youngstown State University

Title III UTCs
Funding amounts vary

  • Jackson State University
  • Morgan State University
  • North Dakota State University - Small Urban and Rural Transit Center
  • Texas A&M University - Texas Transportation Institute
  • University of Alabama, Birmingham
  • University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • University of Denver/Mississippi State University
  • University of Tennessee - Knoxville National Transportation Research Center

Map of University Transportation Centers

Map of  University Transportation Centers