Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

About CTR: Transportation Solutions to Move Your World

The Center for Transportation Research (CTR) has been a nationally and internationally recognized research entity at The University of Tennessee since 1972. Our group has been the research venue for some of the brightest and most innovative faculty, researchers, and graduate students in the nation’s transportation arena.

Today, CTR has over $10 million in sponsored research under contract, providing increased opportunities for students and researchers. Considering the breadth of our transportation system, the quality of newly graduated transportation students must be of the highest caliber. CTR supports the UT College of Engineering’s responsibility to supply well-educated transportation students to the growing field of transportation professionals.

Transportation research, education, and technology transfer activities are vital if we are to rebuild the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure and encourage solutions to tomorrow’s transportation problems. These initiatives present new technical challenges, involve specialized personnel skills, and require innovative partnerships and management approaches. CTR strives to address these needs for the nation, our region, and our community.

Background & Focus

 The Center for Transportation Research was created in 1970 to foster and facilitate interdisciplinary research, public service, and outreach in the field of transportation at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It began full-time operations in 1972 and since then has contributed greatly to the overall research program of the university. As a research center under the auspices of UT’s College of Engineering, CTR oversees various programs associated with the education, research, training, and workforce aspects of the transportation field.

The center has three goals. The first is to conduct a program of research in transportation that is recognized for its excellence, comprehensiveness, innovation, productivity, and national leadership. The second is to develop and sustain the technical expertise for high quality transportation research by the faculty and students of UT. CTR’s third goal is to serve the transportation research, service, and training needs of state and local government, business, and industry in Tennessee, the Southeast region, and the nation.

Our Value, Mission, and Vision Statements

CTR is dedicated to excellence and integrity in providing effective transportation solutions.

Our mission is to:

  • Harness the full resources of the University of Tennessee in the conduct of transportation research. 
  • Develop and educate the transportation workforce. 
  • Assist and advise operators and users of the transportation system. 

Our vision is to be recognized for excellence in university-based transportation research, education, and service.

CTR Facts & Stats

34 Active Research Projects

Sponsored by 10 Different Local, State, and Federal Agencies

$10 Million

Annual CTR Expenditures

165 CTR People

62 Staff
35 Fellows
33 Affiliated Faculty
35 Visiting Scholars

211 Workshop & Training Courses

Delivered to 4,519 Participants Across Tennessee, the US, and the World

CTR Welcomes New Director Heaslip

Professor Kevin Heaslip has been named the new director of UT’s Center for Transportation Research, effective July 1.

“Now is a great time to be hiring a new director for the Center for Transportation Research with the system and campus focus on future mobility,” said TCE Associate Dean Bill Dunne. “Dr. Kevin Heaslip is a great fit for this role as he brings a history of strong leadership in transportation- and infrastructure-related engineering, which will serve the university and the state well.”

He comes to the Tickle College of Engineering after an eight-year role as a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech.

“The Center for Transportation Research has a long and distinguished history, which positions it well to meet the transportation and mobility challenges of the 21st century,” said Heaslip. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passage means there are great opportunities for CTR to help restore and rehabilitate our transportation system and conduct cutting-edge research that will define the transportation systems of tomorrow.”

Heaslip replaces David Clarke, who retired as director at the end of 2020. Read more…

How CTR Makes a Difference

CTR’s #Getconvinced teen program was awarded 1st place in class 2 at Engineer’s Day 2021. This program, which was started in 2015, promotes teen safety focusing on seatbelt use by letting teens ride the seatbelt convincer along with understanding the dangers of distracted driving using a pedal kart while wearing impaired goggles and navigating an obstacle course. Over 800 high school students were on campus October 19th to experience these activities. The #Getconvinced program has reached over 13,000 teens since its inception, helping them learn ways to navigate safely around large trucks. After riding the convincer, which safely simulates a low-speed crash, one teen remarked: “I couldn’t imagine being in a crash without a seat belt, even if it’s at only 5-10 mph.”

The Tennessee Travel Demand User’s Group (TNMUG) forum was established in January 2004 to exchange information about travel demand modeling and forecasting. The goal of the organization is to improve modeling and forecasting capabilities within the state. TNMUG is a collaboration between the universities, TDOT, FHWA, MPOs, consultants, and other interested parties. The modeling group promotes standard statewide guidelines and validation standards, helps coordinate systematic data collection and processing, organizes and promotes staff member training, and conducts research on selected areas of interest to the group. The members gather three or four times per year for one-day meetings that include extensive technical programs. TNMUG’s objective is to support travel demand modeling research and practices that can be undertaken in a comprehensive and coordinated fashion, resulting in advancing the state of modeling application in Tennessee.

The LEVER Institute is a consortium of micromobility researchers and educators from University of Tennessee, Portland State University, University of North Carolina, Queensland University of Technology, and Monash University. LEVER’s mission is to focus collectively on interdisciplinary research directed at micromobility adoption, system integration, societal impacts, and related policy. They have focused on e-bike research since the early growth in Asia as well as recent technologies that enable more widespread access to micromobility vehicles through shared mobility systems. Some of their current projects focus on safety, sustainability, big data systems, and multimodal complementarity. A recent study by Dr. Chris Cherry and Hongtai Yang found that e-scooter riders compete heavily with traditional bikeshare.

ISSE’s East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition is geared toward outreach, education, and developing partnerships that help drive alternative fuels adoption by fleets in Tennessee and beyond. One of its programs, DRIVE Electric USA, is a $3.6M project that started in 2020, and it helps states across the country develop statewide, branded “Drive Electric” initiatives with subtasks such as fleet and utility engagement, developing major corridor and community charging plans, and educating state and local government officials. The EMPOWER Project, newly-funded by US DOE, will pull together partners in 30 states to develop a nationwide workplace charging initiative to educate and assist over 3,500 workplaces of different sizes and types and get them to install workplace charging for electric vehicles. 

Dr. Alex Rodrigues’ primary research interests lie in the theory-based empirical studies in supply chain management. He has developed quantitative research related to Global/National Logistics Expenditures estimations using neural networks and Global Supply Chain Management Performance Indexes using macroeconomic data. These efforts improve market intelligence, decision-making, and risk mitigation efforts for supply chain professionals. He has also contributed to qualitative research related to Global Logistics Strategy and Operations. The world has observed an increase in international trade and a strengthening of emerging markets, stressing the importance of Low-Cost Country Sourcing (LCCS) research in particular. 


Upcoming Events

October 3-5 | Office of Community Engagement and Outreach 5th Annual Engagement and Outreach Conference | UT Student Union.

Women in Engineering Virtual Information Session | 7 p.m. October 4 | Opportunity for women high school students to learn about engineering at UT.

Zeanah Engineering Complex Dedication
October 14, 3:30–5 pm | reception, building tours, lab showcases | Zeanah Engineering Complex, South Entrance | RSPV

Engineers Day | October 27 on the engineering campus | Potential engineering students meet with current students and interact via competitions and exhibits presented by student organizations.

Drive Electric Tennessee Momentum Summit | November 7 | UT Student Union | Register here.

Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo | November 8 & 9 | UT Student Union | Register here.