Carnegie Mellon University
May 18, 2012

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon, Penn Launch University Transportation Research Center

Inaugural Meeting Recognizes Henry Hillman's Visionary Support for "Smart Transportation"

Contact: Ken Walters / 412-268-1151 /

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pennsylvania will launch the University Transportation Center (UTC) — a joint research center on developing technologies for safe and efficient transportation — at a meeting today at Carnegie Mellon.

The meeting will include representatives of both universities and from some of the more than 30 community groups and companies who are members of a consortium affiliated with the center. Consortium members include the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Allegheny Conference and companies such as IBM and General Motors.

"The work at the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation UTC is furthering the great American tradition of innovation and creativity in transportation," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in a videotaped message.

"We are incredibly proud of the work you are doing at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pennsylvania, and we look forward to seeing the technologies that you are developing and deploying to make vehicles and infrastructure smarter," LaHood said. 

The UTC will sponsor research in intelligent systems for vehicles to make them safer, smarter, and more energy efficient. Using cutting edge sensors, robotic systems, and machine learning tools, the UTC will work with consortium members on deploying these ideas in real-world situations.

The inaugural consortium meeting will also include recognition of the role of Henry Hillman and the Hillman Foundation, which enabled CMU to launch Traffic21, a community partnership to develop and deploy "smart transportation" technology advancements in 2009.

"Henry Hillman's visionary philanthropic investment in Traffic21 was triggered by his idea that 'smart transportation' development could unfold very productively in Pittsburgh," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University. 

"Mr. Hillman's idea of intentionally linking cutting-edge researchers at CMU with community and state agencies and companies was key to this success. We are very grateful to him for all he has done, and we share his optimistic conviction that we are only at the beginning of this important work," Cohon said.

The Traffic21 initiative was a major impetus for CMU's partnership with the University of Pennsylvania that resulted in the awarding of the UTC in February, when the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $3.5 million grant to CMU and Penn to establish the center.

Cohon also thanked the Pennsylvania members of Congress for their support of the project.

"The Pennsylvania Congressional delegation saw the value of the UTC for Pennsylvanians, and the potential of these new technologies to fuel economic development in the state," Cohon said. "We are very grateful to them for their support and guidance throughout this process."

Traffic21 has also received funding from other Pittsburgh foundations, including the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Benter Foundation and the Grable Foundation.

The UTC is focusing on safe and efficient transportation, enabled by information technologies. It will explore cutting-edge technologies that could influence everything from the safety of vehicles and roads to the analysis of traffic flow.

The UTC also will establish a workforce development program to train graduate students and professionals already in the workforce in modern transportation-related technologies and policymaking.

The UTC will be co-directed by Raj Rajkumar, Westinghouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, and by Dan Lee, professor of electrical and systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The executive director will be Alan Biehler, distinguished professor at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon and former Pennsylvania secretary of transportation. 

More information is available at