Eksioglu lands $3.5-million USDOT UTC grant
Mississippi State is the lead institution for a $3.5-million federal grant to help fund a center of excellence for transportation research.
The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation's University Transportation Center program, which works to advance technology and expertise required to meet national needs for the safe, efficient and environmentally sound movement of people and goods.
The new National Center for Intermodal Transportation for Economic Competitiveness will promote the development of a national intermodal transportation network by integrating all transportation modes for both freight and passenger mobility.
Among 46 applications to start a Tier I University Transportation Center, MSU's proposal was one of only 10 funded.
Burak Eksioglu, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, is principal investigator for the project. He said the formation of a diverse, multi-disciplinary team at the 134-year-old land-grant institution played a critical role in winning the highly competitive grant.
"Our team goes beyond the boundaries of traditional transportation majors and geographic divisions," he observed. "We have researchers from industrial engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, political science and public administration, sociology, agricultural economics, geosciences, psychology, architecture, and management information systems."
Eksioglu said MSU's longstanding and successful partnership with the University of Denver also played a critical role. Since 1998, the two schools' operation of the National Center for Intermodal Transportation has been recognized by the Department of Transportation for its accomplished work record and capabilities.
"We have been working in this area for a while and developed expertise that uniquely qualifies us to perform research and educational activities in a wide range of intermodal transportation topics," Eksioglu said. "Thus, NCITEC is a natural extension to NCIT; adding three more members only strengthened our capabilities."
LSU, Hampton University in Virginia and the University of Mississippi are other NCITEC consortium members.
In addition to its nationwide impact, NCITEC will focus its attention on the Magnolia State's transportation infrastructure.
Eksioglu said the grant "requires matching funds from each institution, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation is one of our funding sources. We will be working closely with MDOT to improve the state's transportation system."
Each consortium member and their respective state transportation departments are providing matching grants. Several industry partners are contributing in-kind matching funds, including IAVO Research & Scientific, Union Pacific Railroad and Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eksioglu explained.
MSU's Office of Research and Economic Development, Bagley College of Engineering and its departments of industrial and systems engineering and civil and environmental engineering support NCITEC's efforts.
"We are very proud of our winning proposal, but the real work begins now," Eksioglu said. "We already are thinking and planning ahead to ensure the sustainability of NCITEC.
"We will manage our center in the best possible way we can by conducting research, education, and technology transfer activities that are well received by our members and stakeholders," he added.
He said it's also noteworthy that MSU holds membership in the Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center regional UTC consortium, which is led by the University of Florida.
Jim Laird | University Relations