Established in 1998, the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) is a multidisciplinary organization conducting a wide range of transportation focused activities including research, education and training, outreach, product development and technology transfer.

Consistent with Michigan Tech's reputation as a premier research university, MTTI accomplishes it mission with faculty, students, professional staff, accredited laboratories and years of experience performing projects for a wide range of clients both nationally and internationally.

To date, MTTI has been awarded over $39,257,810 million in external funding for its transportation related activities and research.

Areas of Research

Transportation Structures

Transportation structure research focuses on the built environment including bridges, pavements, geo-technical applications and construction. Projects include the development of optimized structural systems with innovative and durable materials such as ultra-high performance concrete, decision making tools for construction management and investigation of rapid construction techniques to reduce delays in addition to monitoring strategies for bridges, pavements and substructures to extend the service life of the aging transportation infrastructure.

Transportation Materials

Materials used in transportation infrastructure focusing on bridges, pavements and geo-technical applications are currently being investigated including asphalt-based binders and mixes, portland cement and cementitious supplementary materials, portland cement based concrete and aggregates and soils.

Transportation Systems

The systems working group focuses on the planning, design, construction, operations and management of the transportation infrastructure and systems including the highway network, railroads, airports, public transport and waterways.
 
Recent research has been undertaken in traffic safety and control, asset management, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), bicycle facilities, vintage trolleys and trains, automated people mover systems and rail freight transportation.

Transportation and the Environment

The environment working group focuses on the environmental impacts of transportation on ecological systems including vegetation, wildlife and human health as well as the impacts of carbon dioxide emissions, acidification, road de-icers, fugitive dust, smog and other environmental impacts.
 
Research opportunities range from directly assessing the impacts of road on wildlife to the interaction between road construction and weed ecology, construction of wildlife mortality mitigation structures and the effects of new technologies on reduction of runoff contaminants.

Transportation and Society

Societal implications of transportation include historical investigations of the development of transportation, archeological studies of transportation features, and attention to the interaction of society through economics, policy, planning and regulation.
 
Human factors involved in transportation related to communication, safety and social change are areas of study also being researched.

Transportation Technology Transfer

The technology transfer working group focuses on "bridging the gap between research and practice." Technology transfer activities include reports, guides, manuals or handbooks, training workshops, webinars, conferences, e-learning and other forms of communication and outreach to the transportation industry.
 
This group also conducts research and develops sophisticated management tools for the transportation industry including GIS, transportation asset management and project estimation software.

Research Facilities

Aggregate and Geotechnical

The MTTI aggregate and geotechnical research area conducts research and testing in soils, aggregates and rock. The MTTI test facilities have traditional research and testing capabilities in soil testing such as permeability, consolidation and triaxial strength testing as well as more advanced equipment for resilient modulus research, ballast testing and high pressure triaxial testing of rock.

Asphalt Materials Research

The asphalt materials testing capabilities at Michigan Tech include mixture performance and component materials characterization to improve performance of materials used in hot mix asphalt (HMA) and warm mix asphalt (WMA). There are two principal laboratories supporting asphalt research: the Binder Research and Testing Facility, and the Mixture Performance Research and Testing Facility.

Concrete Research

The structural and material testing capabilities of Benedict Laboratory are used for research involving fresh or hardened portland cement concrete and mortars, as well as on-going research with ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) by certified technicians and student researchers. The large, state-of-the-art facility allows for numerous projects to be conducted simultaneously. Researchers can perform a variety of tests on mixtures including semi-adiabatic calorimetry and rapid chloride penetration as well as analyze hardened concrete by using compression and tension load frames, creep framers and a freeze/thaw chamber.

Driving Simulation

Transportation human factors research focuses on the design and enhancement of systems that can respond to the evolving needs of the user. This is accomplished through experimental assessment of the operator’s behavior and performance, and computational models which account for other factors that relate to performance outcomes. Driving simulators are used to assess the effect of vehicle and roadway design on driving performance; service systems, where both service providers and recipients are modeled to maximize value creation in the system; and occupational health and safety, where system design is evaluated to address ergonomic issues in the work place.

Material Characterization

The Materials Characterization Laboratory specializes in characterization of construction materials (e.g. aggregate, cement, fly ash, concrete and asphalt) but also is equipped to characterize metals, polymers or virtually any other solid material. The facility includes all necessary sample preparation equipment, analytical instrumentation and expertise required to perform comprehensive material characterization and failure analyses.

Structural Behavior

The MTTI aggregate and geotechnical research area conducts research and testing in soils, aggregates and rock. The MTTI test facilities have traditional research and testing capabilities in soil testing such as permeability, consolidation and triaxial strength testing as well as more advanced equipment for resilient modulus research, ballast testing and high pressure triaxial testing of rock.

Transportation Programs

Transportation Enterprise Program

The Transportation Enterprise (TE) is a Discovery-based undergraduate educational program that uses industry sponsored projects to serve as the framework and motivation for student learning. The Transportation Enterprise is housed in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department with offices in 109 Dillman Hall.

Rail Transportation Program

The Rail Transportation Program (RTP) was officially established in 2007 within the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute. The multi-disciplinary program uses three integrated activity groups to increase rail exposure and to engage students, faculty and industry partners in rail transportation—Projects and Research, Education, and Events and Extracurricular Activities.

“The vision of Rail Transportation Program is to expand its service to the rail industry by offering an interdisciplinary program in railroad engineering and urban rail transit that will provide opportunities for our students and faculty to participate in the development and operation of rail transportation for the 21st Century.”

Michigan's Local Technical Assistance Program

The Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) serves as the Technology Transfer (T2) effort of the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Professional Development. The LTAP network consists of 57 T2 Centers and serves state, county and local highway and transportation personnel.

The LTAP mission is to bridge the gap between research and practice by conducting training sessions and demonstrations and by serving as a clearinghouse for information related to state-of-the-art technology in the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

LTAP is funded by FHWA, with matching funds from State governments, universities, state highway agencies and other organizations.

Michigan Tech Tribal Technical Assistance Program

The Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) is part of a nationwide effort sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. TTAP explores technology transfer initiatives focusing on technology and information on tribal roads and bridges, tourism, and recreation, and related economic development to tribal transportation and planning personnel. TTAP provides technology transfer through training workshops, a quarterly newsletter, and the operation of free publication and videotape training libraries.

Partnering Centers and Institutes

Michigan Tech Research Institute

MTRI, a research center of Michigan Technological University, is a recognized leader in the research, development and practical application of sensor and information technology to solve critical problems in national security, protecting and evaluating critical infrastructure, bioinformatics, earth sciences and environmental processes.

Center for Science and Environmental Outreach

The GEM Center for Science and Environmental Outreach is a nonprofit team of professionals and volunteers who provide educational programs, technical expertise, and information to schools, organizations, governments, and individuals to promote awareness and informed personal actions and public policy concerning regional environmental issues.

Center for Technology and Training

The Center for Technology & Training (CTT) provides technology transfer, software development and research services to support agencies that manage public infrastructure. With annual funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan Technological University (MTU), the CTT administers Michigan's Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and manages the development and support of software for roadway asset management, project estimating, and project management. The CTT also works under contract with other agencies to complete discrete research and service projects

Center for Structural Durability

The Center for Structural Durability (CSD) explores research in the area of durable structural highway systems including ultra-high performance concrete applications, rapid construction for prestressed concrete bridges, and inspection and repair of transportation systems and bridges using remote sensing and other non-destructive inspection techniques. Structural durability related research helps state DOTs, federal agencies and industry clients achieve their performance goals of safety, mobility, and productivity of the transportation system while developing long-term solutions to improve the resiliency of our nation's transportation structures.

Transportation Materials Research Center

The Transportation Materials Research Center (TMRC) provides technical expertise and state-of-the-art laboratories to support the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) transportation materials research and investigation by maintaining highly qualified technical staff and certified facilities. Specific areas of research include the behavior and performance of materials including asphalt, concrete, unbound aggregate, and soils.