Maryland launches new multidisciplinary transportation research institute


The State of Maryland has launched a new transportation research and education institute that unites engineering, planning, social sciences, computer sciences, business, public policy and public health experts.

Based at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), the new Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) will coordinate more than US$20m in annual research expenditures to spur innovation in the transportation sector. The institute will focus on transportation big data, connected and automated transportation, congestion mitigation, freight and logistics, infrastructure planning and policy, transportation safety and security, smart cities and communities, and future mobility systems.

The institute will make use of the largest transportation data and data analytics center in the USA, which is based in the UMD’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory (CATT Lab), as well as the UMD National Transportation Center, which is a US Department of Transportation-designated National University Transportation Center. MTI also encompasses leading centers in smart growth, cybersecurity, GIS, logistics, sustainability, computer sciences, behavioral sciences and public health.

The MTI’s unveiling event featured a number of transportation technology solutions, including the incenTrip smartphone app that helps combat congestion by providing personalized travel incentives. The CATT Lab introduced attendees to a suite of decision-making tools backed by big data analytics, while undergraduate students from UMD Loop presented their design for the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition. Collaborators from Morgan State University’s Urban Mobility & Equity Center also shared a cutting-edge driving simulator that helps reduce traffic accidents.

“MTI harnesses the expertise of transportation researchers across the university to generate timely, practical solutions to some of the most complex challenges of the 21st century,” said UMD’s senior vice president and provost, Mary Ann Rankin. “The University of Maryland has a long and rich history of advancing knowledge in areas of critical importance to the state, the nation and the world.”

The MTI will be led by Prof. Lei Zhang, from UMD’s A James Clark School of Engineering, who observed, “Transportation issues pervade every area of our lives and the lives of our communities. MTI will work with our government, non-profit, and industry partners toward zero traffic fatalities, infrastructure construction and maintenance cost reduction, immediately deployable congestion mitigation technologies, and advanced transportation technologies to improve quality of life and economic development in our state and beyond.”

Maryland Department of Transportation’s secretary, Pete K Rahn, added, “Through its important research, this institute will help us remain one of the most innovative transportation departments in the country.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).