N.C. A&T to Lead University Transportation Center for Southeast Region

02/22/2023 College of Business and Economics, Transportation and Supply Chain, College of Engineering, College of Science and Technology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 22, 2022) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State has been selected to initiate the Center for Regional and Rural Connected Communities (CR2C2) using a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for up to an additional four years of support, totaling $15 million.

CR2C2 logoCR2C2 will serve as the Region 4 University Transportation Center (UTC) charged with addressing challenges within the Southeastern region of the United States. The region covers North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The CR2C2 consortium consists of a strong, diverse team with complementary capabilities from A&T, Clemson University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Alabama, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The consortium members will contribute $15 million in matching funds, making the total investment in this project $30 million.

“North Carolina A&T’s mission is to advance the human condition and facilitate economic growth. One of the most significant barriers to inclusion in many states is equitable access to transportation, regardless of place and income,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Tonya Smith-Jackson, Ph.D. “This center uses advanced engineering, understanding of socio-geographic factors and technological expertise to solve a pressing social challenge. Advanced sociotechnical solutions are needed in transportation research, and this team, with its collaborative research enterprise, will make it happen.”

Leading CR2C2 efforts will be Ali Karimoddini, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, and Maranda McBride, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics.

“Taking advantage of emerging technologies to address rural transportation challenges is a time-sensitive problem nationwide and particularly in the Southeast region, which is considerably rural,” said Karimoddini.

The primary goal of CR2C2 is to plan, implement and evaluate an integrated research, education, workforce development and technology transfer approach for providing innovative connected and coordinated multimodal technological solutions. The purpose is to enable and improve equitable, efficient and effective mobility services for the movement of people and goods primarily, but not exclusively, in rural and underserved communities.

“Through purpose-driven research, education, and outreach activities, CR2C2 will lay the foundation for residents of rural and underserved communities to access socioeconomic opportunities that are too often reserved for people who live in urban areas,” said McBride.

Transportation research has a long history at A&T, beginning with the Transportation Institute’s establishment in 1970. Today, the university also is home to NC-CAV, CATM and several other transportation-related laboratories and infrastructure – including the nation’s first autonomous vehicle rural test track and a fleet of connected autonomous micro transit vehicles unveiled last fall.

A&T researchers joining Karimoddini and McBride in the CR2C2 effort are:

  • Abdullah Eroglu, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Venktesh Pandey, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Hyoshin Park, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Computational Science and Engineering, and Hieu T. Nguyen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the College of Engineering.
  • Laquanda Leaven Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, and Transportation Institute Director Rongfang “Rachel” Liu, Ph.D., endowed professor in in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management Department, from the Deese College.
  • Hossein Sarafzadeh, Ph.D., Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education and Outreach director, from the College of Science and Technology.

“With the transportation research capabilities and infrastructure at A&T and its partnering institutes, CR2C2  is well positioned to investigate the needs of geographically distributed, isolated and aging populations in rural areas, which is critical for extending their economic integration into the national economy and stimulating job growth,” said Liu.

N.C. A&T autonomous shuttle students

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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