UMTRI, Engineering join to innovate the future of transportation


Two key players in advanced transportation and mobility research at the University of Michigan are joining forces to more effectively move the sector into the 21st century in ways that are safe and sustainable.

The U-M Transportation Research Institute, a multimillion-dollar enterprise that began in 1965, will merge with the College of Engineering, one of the nation’s premier engineering colleges.

On Sept. 20, UMTRI began the process of changing its administrative home from the U-M Office of Research to CoE.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring together complementary strengths, combining expertise in transportation technology, biosciences, human factors and data science, as well as the social and behavioral sciences,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of aerospace engineering.

“As we look to the future of mobility, we must think holistically about this complex problem. I am confident this change will help us do so to the great benefit of our faculty members, our students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and eventually society at large.”

This transition will provide UMTRI researchers greater access to a wide range of engineering resources including labs, faculty and students. It also will create a more sustainable funding environment to better attract and retain faculty and staff.

“For over 50 years, UMTRI has been at the forefront of pioneering transportation safety and saving lives,” said UMTRI Director Jim Sayer. “Since its inception, UMTRI has been a multidisciplinary institute that thrives on collaboration. This move gives us additional resources to advance the next generation of safety and improved mobility.”

UMTRI is one of the largest research institutes at U-M in terms of research expenditures, at $20 million annually. The institute has conducted more than 1,000 research projects and collected hundreds of terabytes of data.

Its multidisciplinary research includes short-term and long-term projects in areas involving social and behavioral analyses, accident data collection, traffic safety analysis, and standards development and testing, as well as the deployment and evaluation of new safety and mobility technologies.

UMTRI’s faculty and staff include full-time researchers, technical and administrative personnel, teaching faculty affiliated with university academic departments, as well as graduate and undergraduate students. Its research scientists collaborate with many academic, government and industry partners to accomplish interdisciplinary research, generating new knowledge and providing students with experiential learning opportunities.

The institute is globally recognized for its approach to research, as well as the implementation of large-scale projects in transportation and safety. Working with its partners including Mcity, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the city of Ann Arbor, UMTRI currently maintains the world’s largest connected vehicle and infrastructure deployment. The Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment involves 3,000 vehicles, as well as infrastructure throughout the city.

The U-M Office of Research remains the administrative home of Mcity, a U-M-led public-private partnership to accelerate advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.


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