Source: Auburn University announcement

AUBURN, Ala.— As the Southeast’s leader in transportation research and education, Auburn University is taking another step forward with the formation of the Auburn University Transportation Research Institute.

The institute, hosted and supported within Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will provide greater visibility and a shared identity for all transportation-related and educational programs at the university. It will foster continued growth and expansion of the overall transportation research programs and will help elevate these programs to a position of greater national prominence based on the scholarship generated by its participating faculty.

The institute will serve as an umbrella organization for units that are heavily involved in transportation research, including the National Center for Asphalt Technology, or NCAT, and its affiliated asphalt test track, the Highway Research Center, the Alabama Transportation Assistance Program and the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, or GAVLAB.

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In fiscal year 2020, these various centers secured a combined total of more than $24 million in extramural funding for research, education and outreach efforts. This level of extramural funding for transportation is greater than any other single research topic on the Auburn campus. 

“While each of these programs has proven to be highly productive individually, we believe that the time is right to create an administrative structure that will heighten our stature as a powerful force in transportation research and subsequently enhance our ability to produce even more growth in our transportation research programs,” said Steve Taylor, associate dean for engineering research.

Auburn’s research and education in transportation engineering dates to the inception of a civil engineering program nearly 150 years ago.

In 2001, Auburn’s Department of Mechanical Engineering created the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, or GAVLAB. The GAVLAB focuses on the control and navigation of vehicles using GPS in conjunction with other sensors, such as inertial navigation system sensors.

The laboratory has several research thrusts including sensor fusion/integration, on-line system identification, adaptive and robust control algorithms and vehicle state and parameter estimation. These research thrusts are focused on vehicle dynamics and transportation, including heavy trucks, passenger cars, off-road vehicles, as well as autonomous and unmanned vehicles.

Through the years, Auburn’s Highway Research Center, NCAT, ATAP and the GAVLAB, coupled with numerous collaborating units at the university, have established themselves as the foremost entities in the state of Alabama and the region to provide engineering solutions that advance safe, durable and sustainable asphalt pavements, roadways, bridges, transportation infrastructure and vehicle guidance and automation technologies.

These engineering researchers are highly qualified and recognized globally for their expertise in subjects such as highway safety, road and bridge design and performance, pavements and autonomous vehicles. Their collaboration across the campus community will further enhance the university’s transportation research endeavors.

“This institute will be the vehicle to move Auburn’s transportation programs to the forefront of innovation and competitiveness through the 21st century,” said Jim Weyhenmeyer, Auburn’s vice president for research and economic development. “Transportation problems of the future will involve multidisciplinary work, and the Auburn University Transportation Research Institute will move Auburn into position to solve these real-world problems.”