Russ Fine, Director UAB UTC
You can’t fix a problem unless you know it exists. You can’t fix it if no one knows how. And you can’t fix it, even if you know it exists and you know how to fix it, if there’s no one with the time and skill to do the job.
Recognition of those facts was behind the creation of the University Transportation Centers by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) in 1987, as part of its effort to reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes on the nation’s highways. And recognition of its track record of excellence in research, innovation, and education was behind the UAB-ICRC’s selection as one of eight new University Transportation Centers (http://utc.dot.gov) funded in 2006 through DOT’s Centers of Excellence initiative.
The goals of the UTC program are to fund research examining transportation problems; to spread knowledge of the research results through education and publications; and to increase the numbers of undergraduate and graduate students in transportation-related majors. UAB is well equipped to meet all of those goals:
- The UAB-ICRC has produced highly regarded research in the transportation-related arena for more than a decade, and a number of research projects ongoing at the UAB hospital and medical school will also contribute knowledge that can improve transportation safety.
- The UAB-ICRC has long emphasized dissemination of its research, with dozens of publications, presentations, abstracts, and symposia produced each year.
- UAB’s School of Public Health, School of Engineering, and School of Medicine offer advanced degrees in various fields of health science research, ensuring a consistent pool of students with potential to pursue transportation related careers or research agendas.
The UTC at UAB is the only one in the US associated with a medical school, and its biomechanical research emphasis is likewise unique to the UTC program. The $2 million funding will support research from FY 2006 through FY 2009. In accord with the unique theme “Traffic Safety and Injury Control,” the specific research to be funded is being determined as the UAB-UTC leadership implements the Strategic Plan with guidance from the Advisory Board and funding agency, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (http://www.rita.dot.gov).
It is my privilege to serve as the UAB-UTC’s founding Director and Principal Investigator. Similarly, it is my privilege and good fortune to be able to serve alongside two outstanding Associate Directors, Dr. Jay Goldman and Mr. Jeff Foster. Dr. Goldman who already serves the UAB Injury Control Research Center as its Associate Director for Research and Scientific Oversight, has assumed those duties in the newly formed UTC as well. Dr. Goldman also serves as the SCIB Assistant Director. He is a Distinguished Service Professor and Dean Emeritus of the UAB School of Engineering and a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and of Health Services Administration at UAB.
Mr. Foster is the Associate Director for Administration and Finance at the new UAB-UTC. He comes to the UTC appointment after having worked with the UAB-SCIB for several years, including serving as a project manager.
As it progresses in solidifying research aims and conducting projects and programs, the UAB-UTC draws guidance from its directors and advisory board. Comprised of engineers, physicians and other transportation/transit safety professionals, these Advisory Board members help steer the UTC at UAB into the forefront of traffic safety and injury control.
Finally, we would be gravely remiss to overlook this opportunity to acknowledge and thank United States Senator Richard Shelby for the critically essential role he has played in matters related to this country’s transportation system infrastructure in general and highway and traffic safety in particular.
If not for US Senator Richard Shelby the UAB University Transportation Center would not and could not have been established. We owe our very existence to Senator Shelby’s unparalleled commitment to our nation’s highway, transit, traffic and motor vehicle safety programs, especially those being conducted at UAB. Moreover, there is no way to accurately estimate the tens of thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle operators and occupants who are alive today because of the challenges we have been able to pursue and conquer … all because Senator Richard Shelby made it possible for us to do so. There is no way we can express, adequately, our appreciation to him other than to say “Thank You” to a truly great American and friend, United States Senator, Richard Shelby.
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Benjamin Barton, PhD
Director, Idaho Child Safety Lab