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Engineers to lead $1.4 million project to make roads safer


Zong Tian, an assistant professor in the University of Nevada, Reno Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is the director of the University’s interdisciplinary and highly successful Center for Advanced Transportation Education and Research. He is also the director of the University’s new multi-institutional Tier-1 University Transportation Center funded with $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Photo by Theresa Danna-Douglas, University of Nevada, Reno.

The University of Nevada, Reno has received two grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

The first, funded at $1.4 million a year for two years, will promote the efficient, safe, and economic movement of goods and people in parts of the United States where a sparse network connects smaller cities with large cities. The project, led by UNR, will continue the College of Engineering’s transportation engineering programs that have been supporting Nevada’s transportation safety and infrastructure for many years. The grant’s study area includes Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona.

About 120 universities across the nation applied for the Tier-1 university transportation center federal grants. UNR was one of the 20 institutions chosen to be a regional center.

Zong Tian, a civil engineering professor at UNR, is the principal investigator.

“Conducting applied research has been the key of our success which has fostered a strong partnership with transportation agencies like NDOT and RTC,” Tian said. “This Tier-1 transportation grant will definitely further enhance both our research and education programs and give us a greater exposure at the national level.”

The university’s second transportation initiative will investigate seismic and other extreme load effects on prefabricated bridges used in accelerated bridge construction – a technique that allows a more efficient rebuilding of bridges after damaging earthquakes. The project is an outgrowth of UNR’s bridge engineering and large-structures earthquake engineering programs.

“The world class earthquake engineering laboratory here at the University allows us to investigate bridge seismic performance at a level that no other lab in the country can match,” said Saiid Saiidi, principal investigator for UNR’s portion of the collaborative work.

With a budget of $800,000 over two years, Saiidi will work with fellow civil engineering professor Ahmad Itani, the co-principal investigator, and a group of post-doctoral students and research assistants. The accelerated bridge construction transportation center is led by the Florida International University which, along with Iowa State University, will study other aspects of the bridge technology.

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