MIT to study environment, transportation challenge

Posted on March 4, 2009

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched Transportation@MIT, a coordinated effort to address the environmental impact of the world's ever-increasing demand for transportation. The new initiative will knit together the wide-ranging research already under way at MIT and create new opportunities for education and innovation.

The program's creation comes as the global movement of people and things becomes increasingly unsustainable a problem that cannot be pinned on any one mode of transport. Two-thirds of the world's petroleum consumption is taken up by transportation-related needs. Projections indicate that demand for petroleum, if unchecked, may outstrip supply within a few decades, while carbon dioxide output across the globe could triple by 2050.

"The global transportation challenge is as multi-faceted as a problem could be, and it is hard to think of an institution better equipped to tackle it than MIT," said Dean of Engineering Subra Suresh. "By coordinating our own efforts and leveraging connections among faculty across our schools from researchers exploring efficient new fuels to those studying transportation as a system to those rethinking how our cities are organized we can make important and innovative contributions and encourage the rapid development of new ideas in sustainability, technology, business practices and public policy related to all modes of transportation.

The coordinated initiative on transportation will be led by Associate Dean of Engineering for Academic Affairs Cynthia Barnhart and will draw on the strengths of three schools at MIT: the School of Engineering, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the MIT Sloan School of Management. The School of Engineering at MIT currently attracts over $20 million in transportation-related sponsored research every year.

Transportation@MIT will start as a two-year pilot program with initial support from all three participating schools. Plans are under way for the development of two labs, one in Cambridge and one outside the U.S., where researchers can apply and test new processes, technologies and policies.

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