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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 65 · No. 1 > The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program: Preparing for the Future of Transportation

July/Aug 2001
Vol. 65 · No. 1

The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program: Preparing for the Future of Transportation

by Ilene D. Payne, Leslie C. Porter, and Lisa Crye

In the last 50 years, the transportation field has been transformed by rapidly advancing technology, broad organizational changes, and globalization. Each of these developments has presented challenges that only a well-educated, multidisciplinary work force can meet.

Continuing education and training are crucial for current and future transportation professionals, who will need to respond to an even more complex, dynamic environment. The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP) serves as a catalyst for research, training, technology transfer, and enhancing the capabilities of professionals in industry and academia.

Dr. Oey.
Dr. Oey of the University of Texas in Austin discusses a technical issue with two DDETFP recipients at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in January 2001.

Initiated in December 1991 by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), DDETFP became operational during the summer of 1992. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) reauthorized the program through September 2003. DDETFP is administered by the National Highway Institute, which is a part of the Federal Highway Administration, for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Dr. Tooley and Dr. Payne.
Dr. Melissa S. Tooley, P.E., director of the Mack-Blackwell Rural Transportation Center at the University of Arkansas, talks with Dr. Ilene D. Payne, director of the Universities and Grants Programs, at the TRB annual meeting in January 2001. When Dr. Tooley was a doctoral candidate, she was also an Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship recipient.

DDETFP awards $2 million annually in six fellowship award categories to undergraduates, graduate students, and selected faculty. In the last decade, about 2,000 fellowships, worth $20 million, have been awarded.

The six award categories can be divided into two groups: "nationally competed awards" and "campus-based awards." The nationally competed awards include the Eisenhower Graduate Fellowships, the Eisenhower Grants for Research Fellowships, and the Eisenhower Faculty Fellowships. The campus-based awards provide students at minority institutions of higher education (MIHE) - historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI), and tribal colleges (TC) - with opportunities to enter careers in transportation, and these awards can channel students into the nationally competed graduate, research, and faculty fellowships.

Each of these awards addresses the requirements of a rapidly changing transportation field, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of modern transportation and extending professional expertise beyond the traditional areas of engineering and science.

Modern professionals understand how their work affects communities and the environment. They seek an interdisciplinary approach to transportation research, and they develop the skills to communicate with all parties in a project.

At the same time, because of the emphasis on intermodalism - a comprehensive transportation system that includes all modes of transportation in efforts to meet increasingly complex social needs - the disciplines related to transportation have greatly expanded. DDETFP makes awards in nearly 70 areas of study - from airway science and logistics to public policy analysis and urban technological planning. Consequently, all of the "modal" administrations within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) - including the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Maritime Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration - and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics have participated in DDETFP.

Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program Award Categories

The Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program has six award categories to enable the program to attract the nation's brightest minds to the transportation field by providing both students and college faculty with opportunities to expand and deepen their understanding of transportation-related fields of study and to retain top talent in the U.S. transportation industry:

Graduate Fellowships enable students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in transportation-related fields at universities of their choice.

Grants for Research Fellowships acquaint undergraduate and graduate students with transportation research, development, and technology transfer at U.S. Department of Transportation facilities.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Fellowships provide students with additional opportunities to enter careers in transportation and serve as a feeder for other Eisenhower fellowships.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions Fellowships provide students with additional opportunities to enter careers in transportation. They also serve as a feeder for other Eisenhower fellowships.

Tribal Colleges Fellowships identify transportation-related activities and provide student and faculty fellowship opportunities. In addition, they serve as a feeder for other Eisenhower fellowships.

Faculty Fellowships give faculty in transportation fields the opportunity to enhance and update their transportation knowledge, including attendance at conferences, courses, seminars, and workshops.

Keeping Pace With Advancing Technology

Each year, the modal administrations within DOT generate current research topics. The topics are announced by the Universities and Grants Programs, and students - from college juniors to doctoral candidates and faculty - complete transportation research projects.

Eisenhower Fellowship recipients apply cutting-edge technology skills to current research across the full range of needs in the transportation industry. By linking education, research, and technology, it's a win-win-win situation; the recipients, the universities, and the transportation industry all benefit substantially. Recipients have the opportunity to work on current research and receive academic credit, tuition, fees, and a monthly stipend based on their educational level. A larger number of universities are able to compete for research projects based on current transportation industry needs. And the transportation industry, including DOT, receives current research from potential researchers whose technical skills are up-to-the-minute.

Life-Long Learning

Changes in technology and the organizational environment demand that transportation professionals be responsive to a complex, dynamic environment. While newly developed transportation technologies that employ the latest in telecommunications, information systems, and electronics are being developed, the organizational environment is also undergoing change. In addition, state transportation agencies have moved toward intermodal and seamless-transportation planning to address regional public transportation needs, freight movement, and environmental and societal concerns. Future transportation professionals must understand innovative management techniques and communicate with a broad range of constituencies - from fellow workers to community leaders. Current professionals are faced with maintaining their knowledge and skills in the face of rapid technological and policy changes.

Because DDETFP provides opportunities not only for current students but also for professionals in the industry and academia to upgrade and enhance their skills, it is a critical link in addressing transportation work force issues. The graduate fellowships provide tuition and a monthly stipend to master's degree and doctoral candidates conducting transportation-related research at the university of their choice. Fellowships range from $50,000 to $140,000 depending on educational level and university.

The Eisenhower Faculty Fellowships enable professionals to enhance their skills and rehone their technical edge by pursuing cross-disciplinary education and by attending conferences, symposia, and other technical meetings. These fellowships have an inherent value to the students of these faculty, as well as to the recipients themselves.

Because faculty advisors are instrumental to the entire program and can have a tremendous effect on students, a consideration in the evaluation of candidates for the Faculty Fellowships is the candidate's documentation of the fellowship's projected benefits to his/her students, the university, and himself.

Interfacing With the Research Community

Each January, DDETFP is showcased in a daylong special session and reception at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). The five-day TRB meeting, which is attended by 8,000 to 10,000 professionals from all over the world, features about 550 presentations and panel discussions. Most transportation professionals consider the meeting to be "the place to be if you're involved in transportation." Participation in the information-sharing sessions keeps Eisenhower Faculty Fellowship recipients abreast of the latest developments and provides new information that they can share with their students and other faculty.

Fellowship recipients present their research results at the TRB meeting. The interdisciplinary nature of student presentations broadens each year - from intelligent transportation systems and traffic volume to the use of church buses to move people to and from employment.

Networking and Partnering for the Future Since the inception of DDETFP, additional transportation education programs have been developed. FHWA encourages the recipients and applicants in all of the academic programs to consider a career in transportation or transportation studies.

The Universities and Grants Programs (UGP) staff are partners with the staff of other academic programs in DOT, such as the University Transportation Centers Program, Garrett A. Morgan Transportation and Technology Futures Program, Summer Transportation Intern Program for Diverse Groups, and the National Summer Transportation Institutes for Secondary Students. UGP is also pursuing partnerships with other government programs and with representatives of the private sector and academia to help students to acquire the requisite education to enter careers in the transportation field.

Both the government and the private sector are seeking workers with appropriate skills, and an increasing number of businesses are requesting the assistance of the UGP staff to locate prospective employees who have cutting-edge transportation-technology skills.

The Eisenhower Fellowships are continuing to provide a prime opportunity to enter the transportation education pipeline. More than 2,000 former DDETFP recipients are now working in the public and private sectors and in academia, and they are catalysts for creative public-private partnerships as they take their place in the new generation of transportation professionals.

References:

Peter A. Manning. "Transportation Workforce for the 21st Century - A Challenge to Education," , Transportation Strategic Planning and Analysis Office, John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass.

Committee on Transportation Research and Development Intermodal Transportation Science and Technology Strategy Team. "Elements of the Transportation Science and Technology Strategy," Chapter 4 of Transportation Science and Technology Strategy, National Science and Technology Council, Washington, D.C., September 1997.

Joseph M. Sussman. "Educating the New Transportation Professional," ITS Quarterly, Summer 1995.

Joseph M. Sussman. "The New Transportation Faculty, The Evolution to Engineering Systems," Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 10, 1999.

Fred Hempel. "Draft Review of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program," unpublished paper, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 1999.


Ilene D. Payne, Ph.D., is the director of the Universities and Grants Programs. The program is part of the National Highway Institute, Office of Professional Development, Federal Highway Administration. Dr. Payne's primary responsibility is the administration and management of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program. She maintains contact with more than 700 colleges and universities nationally. In addition, she serves as FHWA's liaison to the University Transportation Centers Program and serves as FHWA's advisor on academic issues. Dr. Payne has a bachelor's degree from Howard University in East Asian studies, a master's degree in human resource development from Bowie State University, and a doctorate in organizational development from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leslie C. Porter is the program manager of the Universities and Grants Programs. She is employed by Basic Technologies International Corp., and she supervises the Universities and Grants Programs contract staff. Her primary responsibility is the implementation of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program. She maintains communication with thousands of students, faculty, and staff at more than 700 colleges and universities. She is also responsible for program research, reports, and the development of private, public, and institutional partnerships to maintain and promote FHWA recruitment, retention, and diversification. She has been involved in the transportation industry for more than 18 years and came to the University and Grants Programs in November 2000 from a position at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Her career includes urban and transportation planning, environmental impact analysis (socioeconomic impacts), bus and rail planning, academic outreach, special events planning, and marketing. Porter has a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Boston University.

Lisa Crye is a freelance writer and editor. She has written for publications as varied as Science and The Arlington Historical Journal, and she edits newsletters and a research journal. Her work has focused on business, environmental, medical, and government contract issues.

For more information about the Universities and Grants Programs, check www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov (and click on Universities and Grants Programs) or contact the director, Dr. Ilene Payne, by mail at 4600 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22203; by e-mail at Ilene.Payne@fhwa.dot.gov; or by telephone at (703) 235-0538.

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