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Pitt Joins Seven Other Universities in New University Transportation Center

The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering joins Morgan State University and six other institutions in the new SMARTER Center, a USDOT University Transportation Center (UTC). The Center will take a holistic approach to broad transportation challenges in the region, finding equitable solutions that encourage equitable civil infrastructure. 

“This UTC provides a great opportunity for us to look at infrastructure in a more holistic way,” said Lev Khazanovich, Anthony Gill Chair Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt. “We will have the opportunity to communicate across disciplines and look at transportation problems from a new angle.” 

The UTC brings together expertise in all aspects of transportation, with Pitt’s team especially bringing its expertise in civil infrastructure. Khazanovich expects that future projects will involve Pitt’s Impactful Resilient Infrastructure Science and Engineering (IRISE) Consortium, which aims to innovate solutions to address the durability and resiliency challenges associated with aging highway infrastructure. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our SMARTER Center partners in expanding our current impact in the areas of improving the mobility of people and goods and increasing safety and sustainability,” added Julie Vandenbossche, William Kepler Whiteford Chair Professor and Associate Chair of Research at Pitt. “Underserved communities will be a focal point of this effort.”

The following article was originally published by Morgan State University. Republished with permission.

Morgan State to Head Regional Transportation Research Center in HBCU First

Morgan State University has been tapped to lead the SMARTER Center, a USDOT University Transportation Center (UTC) established in partnership with Howard University, University of Delaware, University of Maryland, University of Pittsburg, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. Morgan State will be the first HBCU and the first university in Maryland to lead a regional UTC.

The Center will work with the region’s state Departments of Transportation and other public and private sector partners to facilitate innovation, strategic planning, and the development of a diverse transportation workforce in the Mid-Atlantic. The consortium has been awarded a $15 million federal grant from to carry out its research and education program.

The University will helm the organization amid growing transportation challenges for the region. Food deserts, rising transit costs, and congestion along ports and interstate corridors have threatened to hamper regional economic development in recent years. Challenges caused by climate change, especially flooding, are expected to constrain transit networks as well, often with disproportionate impacts on less affluent communities.

The Center’s research activities will focus on providing immediate and near-immediate implementation capabilities for policy makers, industry, and the public at large. Its researchers will explore novel applications for emerging technologies like machine learning, connected and automated vehicles, and electric vehicles to strengthen the region’s transportation network.

The UTC’s leadership have emphasized their commitment to community involvement, a principle which they say informs the consortium’s efforts to engage underserved communities and community-based organizations in research and workforce development initiatives. Equity and sustainability considerations are thus at the forefront of the Center’s efforts to improve mobility in the region, and expanding multimodal transit options, both for rural urban travelers, remains a key priority in meeting those ends.

View the full DOT announcement and a comprehensive list of grantees here.