The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tickle College of Engineering

UT-led University Transportation Center Establishes Major Research Initiatives

The Tickle College of Engineering's Center for Transportation Research (CTR) has won a $5.5 million federal award for the Region 4 University Transportation Center, the Southeastern Transportation Center (STC). This grant renews the center's national leadership in transportation safety research. STC's operational structure reflects the consortium's regional, multi-university nature. Directing the consortium are CTR's Stephen Richards and DeAnna Flinchum. Reginald Souleyrette of the University of Kentucky is the Research Director, and Steven Jones of the University of Alabama is Technology Transfer Director.

Potential research partners across UT include Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty Lee Han, Asad Khattak, Chris Cherry, and Shashi Nambisan, in the areas of applying Big Data to safety improvements and exploring spatial differences in safety; Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering faculty Mingzhou Jin and Rapinder Sawhney, for transportation engineering and simulation modeling; Mary Holcomb, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, for logistics and network design; and, Shih-Lung Shaw, Department of Geography, for transportation planning and modeling.

"The consortium's theme is comprehensive transportation safety," said Richards. "This grant allows us to work proactively to improve the safety of all transportation modes in the Southeast through a program of research, education, and technology transfer. We have assembled an excellent team of experts that can cover a wide spectrum of safety issues and deliver implementable safety research. The education mission is broad and will involve K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students. The Southeast region and the nation as a whole will benefit greatly from the consortium’s collective expertise and professional experience."

Although the grant is in early days, STC has already established an ambitious research program to address comprehensive transportation safety in the Southeast and beyond. The program supports the Secretary of Transportation’s strategic goal to improve public health and safety by reducing transportation related fatalities and injuries.

The STC research agenda addresses key research needs cited in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), namely, to improve highway safety and infrastructure integrity. The STC research topics are:

  • Crash Modification Factors and the Highway Safety Manual
  • Integrated Simulation and Safety
  • Exploring Socio-Demographic Characteristics and Culture Factors in Differential Safety Performance across Geography
  • Big Data for Safety Monitoring, Assessment, and Improvement

Full details about each initiative are given at

The consortium represents a prestigious group of university based transportation safety programs. Besides The University of Tennessee, the member institution are the University of Kentucky, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama Birmingham, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina A&T State University, and Clemson University.

US Rep. John Duncan Jr. congratulated UT on winning the grant. "As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for 26 years in the House of Representatives, I know the importance of this research," he said. "It will affect every American in the years to come as we take on the huge challenge of strengthening and modernizing our nation's transportation infrastructure."

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