Agreement authorizes $19M in transportation research
By Waad Ayoub
Approximately $19 million of transportation research for the state of Illinois will be led by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT), thanks to a new, three-year agreement signed in July between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the University of Illinois. The ICT is headquartered in the Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Laboratory (ATREL), the department’s transportation research facility in Rantoul, Ill.
“This agreement unifies and strengthens our focus on innovative and implementable transportation research while providing research tools for our graduate and undergraduate students,” said Professor Imad Al-Qadi, director of ICT and ATREL.
Scientific collaboration between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has roots dating back to the 1940s. This partnership was reinforced following the establishment of ICT in 2005, with the joint mission of “stewarding the journey of scientific research from innovation to implementation, providing safe, cost-effective and sustainable mobility of people and goods for Illinois while enhancing quality of life, promoting economic prosperity and demonstrating respect for the environment.”
Since the beginning of its partnership with IDOT, ICT has undertaken or completed more than 223 regular and special projects, including 32 currently active projects, Al-Qadi said. The projects have benefited from the participation and expertise of approximately 150 researchers from various universities and consulting firms and provided learning opportunities to more than 420 graduate students and many undergraduate students. Hundreds of published research reports are available on ICT’s website: ict.illinois.edu.
“One of our important goals is to educate and train the next generation of transportation engineers,” Al-Qadi said. “Building on their fundamental science and engineering knowledge, students taking part in research projects conducted at ICT in collaboration with IDOT have the advantage of receiving hands-on experience working on high-priority research studies and contributing their solid and first-class educational preparation at Illinois to the transportation field in the state, nationally and all over the world.”
In addition to IDOT, ICT collaborates with several national and international universities and agencies. ICT’s sponsors include the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, National Science Foundation, the Michelin Americas Research and Development Corporation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and many other state and provincial agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
“These partnerships ensure that research is being conducted by the most knowledgeable investigators and that more students are exposed to opportunities and careers in transportation research,” Al-Qadi said.