Director's message

Michael Cassidy
Director, UCCONNECT 
Robert Horonjeff Professor 
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

Looking Backward and Forward on a Dynamic Year

The end of the 2015-16 academic year seems an opportune time to take stock of UCCONNECT’s recent activities, and look to the future as well.  After all, the year was a both a productive one, and a harbinger of change.

The year’s highlights include: (i) the Center’s third round of Faculty Research Grants, this time with 13 of 23 submitted proposals selected for funding; (ii) a second round of Dissertation Grants, with funding awards going to 10 of our consortium’s outstanding doctoral candidates; and (iii) our Annual Student Conference, for which we gratefully acknowledge our hosts at UC Riverside.  The year was also marked by numerous tech transfer events, including a day-long conference featuring national leaders from government, industry and academia who collaboratively explored how innovative electric vehicle companies can contribute to federal emission policies.  For good measure, we look forward to the start of our second Annual Summer Research Program at Cal Poly, Pomona, an important outreach activity of our Center, and one that is shaping up to be another success.

The year also marked the passage of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.  From a pragmatic perspective, the new bill ushers in UCCONNECT’s sunset period.  The focus of activity will now gradually shift toward bringing all Center-supported work to successful completion.  The bill’s passage also means that many of us spent recent months preparing proposals for the UTC re-competition.  As in the previous cycle, multiple teams have produced competing proposals for a new Region 9 Center.

Though we cannot know which regional proposal will emerge the winner, we do know that the next Region 9 consortium will differ in composition from the current one.  I view this change as something good.  After all, reconstituting a consortium can inject new energy and vibrancy into its universities, and bring new ideas and priorities to the regional scene.

So it is that we look forward to the coming year: to work toward fulfilling UCCONNECT’s important mission; and to wait in anticipation for the outcomes of the UTC competition.  Good luck to all as regards the latter.        

June 2016