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The board members pose in front of Whittier Research Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

MATC Holds 2012 Advisory Board Meeting

by Aaron Mack

October marked the 2012 MATC Advisory Board Meeting at Whittier Research Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Attendees included the MATC Associate Directors from partnering Region VII universities, as well as numerous industry leaders from top-ranking academic, public, and privately-owned transportation engineering organizations. To see the full list of board members, click here.

The goal of the board meeting was to discuss MATC’s past and present research and initiatives, accomplishments, and plans for the future.

Dr. Rilett opened the discussion with an overview of MATC’s mission and objectives.

"The overarching goal," Rilett said, "is to bring together talented individuals to collaborate to produce innovative research that aligns with the US DOT’s strategic goals and meets each state’s individual needs. MATC’s strategy for meeting this goal has always involved partnership among departments of transportation, the private sector, and members of Region VII.”

Rilett also noted that MATC’s scope of collaboration is not limited to the Region VII consortium members; while MATC is a regional organization, the center often collaborates with other agencies outside the region to produce innovative research.

Members of the Advisory Board discuss past, current, and future projects at their respective consortium universities.

Mr. Abbas Mohaddes (left) and Mr. Bob Kollmar share points during the open discussion section.

Following, the board discussed the importance of student research as a key part of MATC’s mission. Currently, funding for graduate and undergraduate research accounts for a substantial portion—around 50%—of MATC’s budget. From 2006-2012, MATC funded research for 253 graduate students and 208 undergraduate students. MATC has also developed a number of ongoing, successful educational initiatives, such as the Summer Institute and the Scholars Program, that provide opportunities for students to learn, network, and seek funding for master’s and doctoral-level education.

The board meeting continued with presentations from Associate Directors from MATC’s university consortium members, who discussed upcoming research projects and recent accomplishments occurring at their respective institutions. The presenters included Associate Directors Paul Hanley (U of I), Mustaque Hossain (KSU), Charlie Nemmers (MU), Steve Schrock (KU), and Genda Chen (MS&T).

Also discussed at the meeting was the latest progress in MATC’s increasingly expanding technology transfer initiatives, including a remodeled website, new social media portals, and the 2012 Fall Lecture Series, which featured webinars conducted by leaders from various sectors in the transportation industry. The webinar series garnered audiences of students, faculty, engineers, and DOT members from at least 43 states and 9 countries.

The board meeting concluded with an open discussion session that honed in on trends that will impact transportation research in the future, such as consumer needs and the economy. Abbas Mohaddes, President and CEO of Iteris, suggested that trends are shifting toward “the customer,” or, the end user, in many fields. This sentiment was echoed by Robert Kollmar, Executive Director of Engineering, Communications, and Train Control Systems at the American Association of Railroads, who noted the practical usefulness of many of MATC’s current research projects, such as the LED replacement study conducted by Missouri S&T, which, he suggested, could be used to make highway-rail crossings more energy efficient and safe.

The next MATC Advisory Board meeting will take place in 2013.