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K-State Today

June 19, 2012



Addressing critical needs: Mid-America Transportation Center grant to enhance safety, help research and education

By Communications and Marketing

A grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help Kansas State University continue research, education and internships related to transportation safety.

K-State's University Transportation Center, based in the College of Engineering, is receiving $330,000 from a $3.5 million Department of Transportation grant to the Mid-America Transportation Center, a consortium of Midwest universities -- including K-State -- with complementary transportation research programs. The center is based at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Other partner institutions include the University of Kansas, Iowa State University, the University of Missouri at Columbia and the University of Iowa. The consortium's institutions collaborate with transportation agencies in their respective states to advance transportation research.

K-State's portion of the grant will be used for activities pertaining to DOT's strategic goals of enhancing safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness or environmental sustainability. The university plans to increase transportation-related course offerings both in the classroom and online, as well as funding several new research projects through a competitive process. A graduate certificate in transportation will be continued, and the grant will also support students interning with the Kansas Department of Transportation. Interns receive $2,000 from the University Transportation Center in addition to their regular salary.

The grant is for one year, but can be spent for an additional two years.

Mustaque Hossain, Munger professor of civil engineering at K-State and associate director of the Mid-America Transportation Center, says such grants help boost the university's reputation.

"This is a national grant which provides national visibility -- and our students benefit, too," Hossain said. "We have a very vibrant continuing education master's program, and we are getting more student interest in the transportation graduate certificate program. They want to do professional development and build on their knowledge from the bachelor's degree. Those are the tangible benefits we have. This grant not only helps on the research side, but also the education side."

The grant is a part of a series of grants recently announced by the DOT to help address critical transportation challenges facing the nation. Overall, $77 million was allocated to the nation's 22 university transportation centers to advance research and education programs that address the critical transportation challenges facing the nation. Each transportation center is a consortium, and these consortiums have a total membership of 121 universities across the U.S.