Letter from the Director
It is a new academic year, and with that we bring a wave of fresh new and exciting initiatives here at the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) at the University of Texas at Austin.
Over the past year, we have recruited a communications coordinator and a grants/contracts staff person, reconfigured our staffing structure, and established several internal committees, all so we may better, and in a more timely and proactive fashion, respond to the needs of society. Our initiatives are dedicated toward new research directions, innovative education and workforce development programs, and additional technology transfer activities, including the promotion of cutting edge developments in transportation science and technology and efforts to shape policy development at local, regional, state, and national levels.
In terms of future research efforts, we are reaching out to faculty and researchers in Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering as well as other disciplines at UT, including those in wireless communications, computer engineering and science, public health, energy, community and regional planning, and communications and visualization, among others, to harness the collective expertise that resides right here on our campus and to establish new strategic inter-disciplinary and multidisciplinary directions.
Our new Education and Workforce Development Initiatives include becoming more actively engaged with high schools in the area to promote STEM interest in general, and transportation careers in particular. In addition, CTR will develop a series of professional workshops aimed at providing transportation professionals with relevant and applicable knowledge. Further, our first-class library has received a new software upgrade that will help us continue to serve the needs of TxDOT, our students, and professionals around the country and the world.
And we are excited about our new Technology Transfer Initiatives. We are planning to host one international conference each year, starting in 2015, when CTR will play host to the Fourth International Conference on Choice Modeling. At the same time, at the national level, we are collaborating with ASCE to facilitate technology transfer as part of ASCE’s annual meeting that will be held this Fall in Dallas. At the regional and community levels, we are seeking opportunities to serve community and leadership organizations, and work with local and regional planning agencies. And, this past Spring, we launched the Texas Distinguished Lecture Series in Transportation. We feel privileged to have been able to attract the FHWA Administrator Mr. Mendez for the inaugural event in this lecture series.
Looking forward, there are tremendous and incredible opportunities to contribute to the transportation field, spurred by continued urbanization, changes in the demographic mix of our populations, and new technologies that open up completely new possibilities thought to be futuristic even just a few years back. Even as we respond to these opportunities, we also are working on priority initiatives this coming year, specifically focused toward reconnecting and rejuvenating our relationship with our alumni, reaching out to new industry partners, opening up a continuous channel of communication with our current industry supporters, constituting a business advisory council (BAC) for the Center, and establishing a long-term excellence fund to offer more opportunities to our graduate students.
At this point, it is perhaps appropriate for us to take just a few minutes to look back at the journey we have had thus far. As many of you may know, 2013 happens to be the 50th anniversary of CTR’s existence. This is a remarkable milestone, and we have much to be proud about. What started as a small center back in 1963 has now become a thriving transportation center. Through all this, it’s our students that truly make CTR special. Let’s make no mistake about it – our former students are today’s thought leaders in the transportation industry, and our current students will be tomorrow’s.
Thank you for your support and interest. Together, we will take CTR to new places. We also hope you enjoy this first newsletter from CTR, which reflects a snapshot of our activities and achievements.
Dr. Chandra Bhat
Director, Center for Transportation Research
University of Texas