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Auburn University establishes Transportation Research Institute

Auburn University is forming the Auburn University Transportation Research Institute. The institute, hosted and supported within Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will provide greater visibility and a shared identity for all transportation-related and educational programs at the university.

It will foster continued growth and expansion of the overall transportation research programs and will help elevate these programs to a position of greater national prominence based on the scholarship generated by its participating faculty.

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The institute will serve as an umbrella organization for units that are heavily involved in transportation research, including the National Center for Asphalt Technology, or NCAT, and its affiliated asphalt test track, the Highway Research Center, the Alabama Transportation Assistance Program and the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, or GAVLAB. In fiscal year 2020, these various centers secured a combined total of more than $24 million in extramural funding for research, education and outreach efforts. This level of extramural funding for transportation is greater than any other single research topic on the Auburn campus.

While each of these programs has proven to be highly productive individually, we believe that the time is right to create an administrative structure that will heighten our stature as a powerful force in transportation research and subsequently enhance our ability to produce even more growth in our transportation research programs.

—Steve Taylor, associate dean for engineering research

This institute will be the vehicle to move Auburn’s transportation programs to the forefront of innovation and competitiveness through the 21st century. Transportation problems of the future will involve multidisciplinary work, and the Auburn University Transportation Research Institute will move Auburn into position to solve these real-world problems.

—Jim Weyhenmeyer, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development

Auburn University also recently opened the doors to a new autonomous vehicle research facility at Auburn’s National Center for Asphalt Technology test track—one of the few facilities of its kind in the nation attached to a test track.

The addition will aid researchers in Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory. The facility provides a garage with multiple bays and lifts for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, office space for researchers, a conference room and an observation area overlooking NCAT’s 1.7-mile oval test track.

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