A $2-million grant from the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) will provide the cornerstone for the creation of a new University Transportation Center (UTC) that will combine the resources of five universities in Michigan and Ohio to address national transportation issues.

Leo E. Hanifin, PhD, the dean of the college of engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) will head the UTC – a consortium that will include UDM, Grand Valley State University and Wayne State University in Michigan and the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Major areas of study will include developing alternate energy sources, security and effective use of the transportation network in the U.S., said Hanifin. Another key issue that will be explored is infrastructure utilization, as growing demand for transportation is stretching current infrastructure to its capacity.

“By 2020, the demand for moving freight is expected to increase by more than 50%,” said Hanifin. “Expanding infrastructure, by itself, may not be an effective solution because it is expensive and consumes valuable land that could be used for agriculture, recreation and commerce.”

Finally, the emergence of supply chains and sophisticated distribution systems is placing new demands on transportation, he said. “Understanding transportation’s role in this new paradigm and adapting the transportation systems to meet the needs of suppliers, manufacturers and customers are fundamentally important for economic development,” noted Hanifin.

For more information, go to utc.dot.gov.