I am pleased to report that UCCONNECT has enjoyed a productive year on all three of our key fronts: research, education and workforce development. In an effort to be brief, I offer here only an example or two of our activities from each front.
As regards research, the center has in the past 12 months issued no less than three Requests for Proposals. Two of these calls were made possible through funds provided by two divisions within Caltrans: the Division of Research, Innovation and System Information and the Division of Transportation Planning. Both calls targeted faculty and other scholars within our 6-campus consortium. Both solicited research proposals to advance California’s priority needs in surface transport. Following a competitive, peer-review process for each call, a total of 30 year-long research grants were selected for funding. Topics cover a range of thrusts, from improving public transit, to promoting bicycle use, to managing car congestion.
I encourage the reader to visit the research tab of this website for details on these 30 awards. And note there two additional grants awarded to researchers at the University of Arizona. Those awards came via a third RFP aimed at making our center’s footprint a bit more regional in scale.
As regards education, UCCONNECT has dedicated a large portion of its federal funding to support top graduate students across the consortium. And the center has recently allocated 13 grants to doctoral candidates, to assist them in completing their dissertations. See the education tab for further discussion on these grants and on the competitive process that governed selections.
I am especially pleased to report that the center’s activities in the realm of workforce development include a research program to be hosted this summer by our partners at Cal Poly, Pomona. The program aims to attract undergraduate students, including those from underrepresented groups, to the field of transportation by allowing them to pursue small-scale research projects under the direction of faculty. Details on this program will be forthcoming.
Finally, I write these words in the immediate wake of the first UCCONNECT Student Conference, which was a great success by any and all measures. Many thanks go to our conference hosts at UC Santa Barbara, and to the many students and faculty who participated in this event.
As I look back on the year, I realize that our center’s success has been due to the work and support of many, both inside and outside our consortium. So, to the members of our Advisory Committee, to the faculty and students who submitted grant proposals, and to the many experts who generously reviewed those proposals, I offer my sincerest thanks.
And very importantly, I look forward to a productive year to come. In particular, stay tuned this fall for new RFPs, to fund faculty-led research both inside and outside the consortium, and to support doctoral students via a new round of dissertation grants.
I am delighted to be part of UCCONNECT, the newly-established University Transportation Center for Federal Region 9. Our center’s aspirations can be distilled in a simple way: we aim to carry-on in the tradition of our forebearer, UCTC, to serve California and the larger region through research, education and workforce development in the realm of surface transport. In that our new center came into being through a grant awarded via the brand new MAP21 federal program, and since our new center will for a time exist side by side with UCTC, we gave our center: a new name, a sharpened focus on “economic competitiveness,” and a streamlined consortium of five UC campuses and one Cal State University affiliate. And with our new center comes a renewed commitment to (i) work with our Caltrans partners to ensure the relevance of our research and other center-sponsored activities; and (ii) broaden our efforts to serve not only California, but all of Federal Region 9.
The above-two commitments are complementary, and both are evident in our center’s present Request for Proposals. That RFP features two calls: one that invites members of our consortium to propose research to advance the surface-transport priorities of California; and a second call that extends funding opportunities to our colleagues throughout Region 9 to pursue transport research aligned with regional aspirations.
We look forward to receiving top-notch research proposals from both calls, and extend our best wishes to all respondents.