Maritime Transportation Center Receives Additional $1.4 Million Grant

MarTREC researchers are nationally recognized experts in maritime and multimodal transportation, integrating trucking, rail and barge carriers.
Photo by Heather Nachtmann

MarTREC researchers are nationally recognized experts in maritime and multimodal transportation, integrating trucking, rail and barge carriers.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Transportation researchers at the University of Arkansas and their collaborators at five other research institutions will continue to lead the nation in maritime and multimodal transportation research with an additional $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant will be used on a wide range of ongoing research.

The U of A-based Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center, or MarTREC, has received funding from the transportation department since 2013, and the new grant is part of a five-year program that has received a total of $7 million in federal funding and $3.5 million in matching funds.

“Given the link between international trade and gross domestic product, efficient and resilient ports are critical to the nation’s overall economy and the abilities of intermodal carriers to move freight between ports of entry and inland locations,” said Heather Nachtmann, MarTREC director and professor of industrial engineering. “MarTREC researchers are well positioned to advance current understanding and facilitate improved operations within the nation’s multimodal supply chain networks and to inform infrastructure investment decisions to address the aging navigation system and eliminate freight bottlenecks and service delays.”

MarTREC researchers are nationally recognized experts in maritime and multimodal transportation, which integrates trucking, rail and barge carriers. They focus on preserving the existing U.S. transportation system by conducting a multidisciplinary program of maritime and multimodal transportation research, education and technology transfer.

MarTREC researchers design supply-chain networks to optimize resources and minimize congestion on navigable waterways. The work focuses on efficient design and planning for barge containers, shipping cycle times, reliability, safety and environmental preservation. Funding has supported researchers’ work on optimizing routes to relieve congestion and reduce demand on ports, highways and rail systems. Researchers also assess the impact of new global shipping routes, including expanded use of the Panama Canal, on the U.S. transportation system.

Aging infrastructure along the inland waterway navigation system is an increasing concern, said Nachtmann. One MarTREC project, led by Gary Prinz and Clint Wood, assistant professors of civil engineering, is investigating factors that limit lock gate service and inhibit the overall reliability of waterways. Their project addresses fatigue issues within lock gates, identifying critical components and exploring methods for preventing fatigue cracks for the entire service life of the gate.   

MarTREC is seeking new projects through its open request for problem statements. The submission deadline is April 6, and projects must be conducted by U of A faculty. Instructions and forms are located at MarTREC website.

As part of the center’s education and outreach mission, MarTREC sponsors GirlTREC, a summer camp devoted to encouraging girls to consider careers in transportation engineering.

Nationwide, MarTREC is one of 20 centers designated as a Tier 1 University Transportation Center, which refers to the level of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The center is a consortium of researchers from Jackson State University in Mississippi, Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans, Vanderbilt University, Texas A&M University, and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Nachtmann is associate dean for research in the College of Engineering. She holds the Earl J. and Lillian P. Dyess Endowed Chair in Engineering.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Heather Nachtmann, Professor and Associate Dean
College of Engineering
479-575-3484, hln@uark.edu

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

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