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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-040
Date: March 2005

Office of Research, Development, and Technology FY 2004 Performance Report

I. Who We Are and What We Do

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) is organized into 6 offices with 15 teams of experts in more than 30 transportation-related disciplines. Three research and development (R&D) offices—Operations, Safety, and Infrastructure—conduct R&D to provide continual improvement in their areas of expertise. The Office of Program Development and Evaluation develops and executes policy, budget, program management, and administrative mechanisms to help FHWA carry out a nationwide research and technology (R&T) program. The Office of Research and Technology Services develops and executes a comprehensive RD&T communications strategy and marketing plan that supports FHWA R&T programs and technology transfer and delivery. The Office of Resource Management provides administrative services for RD&T.

RD&T is located at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC), a federally owned and operated research facility in McLean, VA that contains more than 24 indoor and outdoor laboratories (labs) and support facilities. RD&T employs more than 300 Federal and contract transportation researchers, students, and support personnel. RD&T coordinates and collaborates extensively with other FHWA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) offices, State and local government partners, academic organizations, companies in the industry, military research offices, and professional organizations. In addition, RD&T serves as the focal point for FHWA participation in cooperative research activities, such as the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and the Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF) Program.

We continually seek to promote partnerships with State and local governments, academia, and the private sector to quickly and cost-effectively transform new technologies, concepts, and ideas into better transportation systems, processes, and services.

Innovators For a Better Future

To support the FHWA role of "innovators for a better future," FHWA management is committed to:

  • Investing in and conducting transportation research with and on behalf of partners and stakeholders.
  • Creating an environment for and delivering innovation in the transportation community through the development of tools, technology transfer, training, and technical assistance.
  • Continually reevaluating and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of technology and innovation deployment.

In an effort to facilitate and better support the achievement of agency goals in research and technology, a new Office of Corporate Research and Technology is being established.

The bar chart shows 11 categories of occupational specialties at TFHRC and the number of employees in each category.  Each category is represented by a bar on the chart starting with the largest group on the left and the bars getting smaller as the number of employees in each subsequent category gets smaller.  The categories and their numbers are:  engineers 46, transportation specialists 19, administrative personnel 9, program analysts 8, scientists 7, research psychologist 4, engineer technician 2, accountant 1, highway safety specialist 1, operations analyst 1, writer-editor 1.

The organizational change will enable a corporate focus and strategy for investing in and conducting research, and will provide leadership in implementing the Corporate Master Plan for Research and Deployment of Technology & Innovation. As part of a broader communication plan, the Office of Corporate Research and Technology will publish an annual report on agency-wide, corporate R&T activities and initiatives. The RD&T Performance Report provides specific focus on research, development and technology at the TFHRC.

RD&T Workforce

RD&T staff embodies a great deal of specialized scientific and engineering expertise, complemented by a valuable understanding of customer needs. The current workforce consists of 105 Federal employees. The positions represented in this number include: 46 engineers, 19 transportation specialists, 9 administrative personnel, 8 program analysts, 7 scientists, 4 research psychologists, 2 engineering technicians, 1 accountant, 1 highway safety specialist, 1 operations research analyst, 1 writer-editor, and 5 senior executive service managers.

Over the years the makeup of the workforce has shifted as RD&T has increased its use of contractor support to accomplish its mission. Since the early 1980s RD&T has reduced the number of Federal staff performing research and research support activities to around half of the original number of employees, while increasing the number of onsite contractors to approximately 200. In FY 2004, RD&T conducted an analysis of its responses on the FHWA All Employee Survey in order to compare and contrast RD&T responses to overall FHWA employee responses and perceptions, and to provide useful input to the annual RD&T Self Assessment process. The analysis revealed several organizational strengths and areas for improvement. RD&T scored high, 85.2 percent, in the area of customer focus (responsiveness to customer needs). Other strengths were workgroup management, job quality, and communication flow. Items tied to resources (equipment, travel funds, facilities) and staffing levels received lower ratings.

Group photo of the Federal researchers and staff at TFHRC
The Federal researchers and staff at TFHRC

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RD&T Organization

Infrastructure

The Office of Infrastructure R&D (HRDI) focuses on improving the performance of highway infrastructure and significantly reducing associated long-term costs. The comprehensive and coordinated infrastructure research program conducts R&D that cuts across the boundaries of asset management, pavements, and structures. In the structures arena, researchers employ a systems approach to integrate design, construction, durability, maintenance, inspection, and long-term performance into the bridge systems of the future. They work to ensure that highway structures are safe and reliable for all service conditions including potential structural, environmental, and human-generated threats. Structural researchers also study and develop technologies to detect, measure, assess, and control all processes and mechanisms that limit the useful life of highway structures. They develop applications to better preserve, maintain, and manage the Nation's highway bridges. In the pavement area, researchers develop models, procedures, and processes that help transportation specialists predict pavement performance and select designs to optimize pavement performance and life cycle costs. They pursue increased pavement life by developing a better understanding of asphalt and portland cement concrete paving materials and the pavement construction process, and by developing better predictive tools for use in the laboratory and on the roadway. The Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program aims to increase the understanding of why some pavements perform better than others. This information is key to building and maintaining a cost-effective highway system. Advanced infrastructure research focuses on nanoscience technology and computational structural mechanics to improve highway materials and structural performance.

Operations R&D

The Office of Operations R&D (HRDO) conducts research to mitigate congestion and improve safety through better management and operation of the surface transportation system. The Travel Management Team produces various hardware and software tools to analyze operational improvements, reduce congestion on surface streets and freeways, and mitigate delays in work zones. The Enabling Technologies Team is developing infrastructure-based and vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems to warn motorists of potential intersection collisions; promoting safety by developing decision-support tools for winter weather maintenance; and supporting the development and use of safety-enabling technologies such as Dedicated Short-Range Communications and Nationwide Differential Global Positioning Systems (NDGPS).

Safety R&D

The Office of Safety R&D (HRDS) aims to reduce highway crashes and related fatalities and injuries by developing and implementing a program of safety innovations through a nationally coordinated R&T partnership. The focus is on FHWA's priority highway safety improvement objectives related to preventing and mitigating roadway departures, safety management, improving intersections, and protecting pedestrians. This office provides transportation officials and practitioners with improved understanding, information, and state-of-the-art tools to aid informed decisions on highway safety improvements. The office also conducts advanced research to determine new ways to solve highway safety problems and challenges.

Program Development and Evaluation

The Office of Program Development and Evaluation (HRPD) champions the research, development, and technology program and those it serves by developing and executing policy, budget, program management, and evaluation tools to further FHWA's R&T program. HRPD is the focal point for FHWA's participation in cooperative research activities, such as the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and the Transportation Pooled Fund Program (TPF). HRPD also manages the FHWA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and works with the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) to support the University Transportation Center (UTC) program.

Resource Management

The Office of Resource Management (HRRM) provides critical management support services that contribute to RD&T's research and deployment of technology and innovation (T&I) activities. HRRM staff provides advice, assistance, and support for financial management of R&T and general operating expenses funding; acquisition planning and contract administration for research programs and research support activities; human resource management and employee development; information technology support for research and business applications; accountable property management and disposition; and RD&T facilities management—including emergency planning, FHWA continuity of operations support, and physical security.

Research and Technology Services

The Office of Research and Technology Services (HRTS) leads in leveraging T&I deployment, one of the Agency's key business processes. HRTS also provides various marketing and communication services Agencywide, as well as within RD&T. These include planning and executing the FHWA exhibit program; administering the R&T Products Distribution Center; editing, publishing, and distributing RD&T research reports; overseeing RD&T Web pages; and publishing periodicals, like PUBLIC ROADS, that reach customers worldwide. HRTS also supports the implementation of the Corporate Master Plan for Research and Deployment of Technology & Innovation (Corporate Master Plan).

The Performance Management Workgroup
The Performance Management Workgroup

Director for Corporate Research and Technology

In July 2004, Ms. Debra Elston was appointed as the new Director for Corporate Research and Technology (changed from Director for Research, Technology, and Innovation Deployment). This function provides key support to the Associate Administrator for RD&T and the FHWA R&T Leadership Team, primarily through leadership in implementing the Corporate Master Plan. Appendix D provides a list of Market-Ready Technologies and Innovations, one of several corporate strategies intended to raise awareness and speed delivery of proven technologies and innovations.

RD&T Leadership Council

The mission of the RD&T Leadership Council is to continuously improve the RD&T organization and its achievement of the FHWA strategic goals. The Council works on a wide range of issues related to the effective management of RD&T and serves in an advisory capacity to the RD&T Executive Committee (comprised of the Associate Administrator for RD&T, the Director for the Office of Corporate Research and Technology, and the RD&T Office Directors).

The RD&T Leadership Council
The RD&T Leadership Council

Council Goals and Objectives

Develop innovative technologies and approaches to R&T:

  • Set a research agenda that meets customer requirements.
  • Conduct quality research that efficiently and effectively delivers products.
  • Deliver high-value work that is relevant to FHWA and USDOT missions.
  • Balance effectively the cost, time, and risk of R&T projects managed by RD&T.
  • Support dissemination of best practices, solutions, and success stories.

Workgroups Reporting to the Leadership Council:

  • Performance Management.
  • Customer Survey.
  • Information Technology.
  • Communications.
  • Corporate Focus.
Lab Assessment participants receiving a briefing on the hydraulics program.
Lab Assessment participants receiving a briefing on the hydraulics program.

RD&T Around the Community

Not only does this report highlight our accomplishments and success stories in the field of highway research over the past year, but it also conveys how the employees in our organization strive to "give back" by volunteering for important causes and conducting outreach and educational activities that enhance the quality of life for others. Here are a few highlights of the types of activities we participated in over the past year:

A TFHRC employee led a student volunteer group that helped to repair homes for families in southeastern Virginia during Work Camp 2004
A TFHRC employee led a student volunteer group that helped to repair homes for families in southeastern Virginia during "Work Camp 2004."

RD&T supports the annual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) with several creative fundraising and social events, such as the Chili Cook-Off, bake sales, and auctions. Proceeds go to many worthy causes and a special donation is made to the Oklahoma City Scholarship Fund, which benefits the family members of FHWA employees who lost their lives in the Murrah Building tragedy. In December, RD&T was recognized for exceeding 100 percent of its monetary goal for the CFC.

Carl Andersen sorts through shoe donations for children in Afghanistan.
Carl Andersen sorts through shoe donations for children in Afghanistan. The donations were made at the request of his brother, who is deployed there.

Throughout the year RD&T employees are involved in various community service projects sponsored by civic and religious organizations. An RD&T team leader, Aramis López, was nominated for the prestigious USDOT Secretary's Award for Volunteer Service as a result of his work to help provide safe wood burning stoves for impoverished families in Guatemala.

A TFHRC employee helped build safe wood burning stoves for families in Guatemala that previously used unventilated indoor cooking fires, which led to health complications from smoke inhalation.
A TFHRC employee helped build safe wood burning stoves for families in Guatemala that previously used unventilated indoor cooking fires, which led to health complications from smoke inhalation.

Other RD&T employees are involved in charitable activities such as collecting donations for a Washington, DC area senior center and conducting blood drives to support the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area. Examples such as the "Work Camp 2004" project, which helped to repair homes for families in southeastern Virginia and a highly successful clothing drive for children in Afghanistan, demonstrate just some of the ways that RD&T employees strive to improve the quality of life in their communities and beyond, help develop and mentor youth, and provide vital services to those in need.

TFHRC employee working at annual "CFC Chili Cook-off" fundraiser.
TFHRC employee working at annual "CFC Chili Cook-off" fundraiser.

Outreach and Special Events

Outreach to Students

James Arnold (Office of Operations R&D) was recognized by the Institute of Navigation for his outreach to students visiting ThorpeWood, an environmental center located in Thurmont, MD. Jim educated the students on the benefits of NDGPS. He also demonstrated how NDGPS enhances the ability of transportation engineers and planners to survey and map, develop route guidance and collision avoidance technologies, and even predict weather more accurately. Jim's outreach helped give a vision of the future to what may be the next generation of transportation professionals.

Students at ThorpeWood learned GPS navigation.
Students at ThorpeWood learned GPS navigation.

Future Cities Competition

As part of the annual Future City Competition, FHWA sponsors a special award for the Best Transportation System, which goes to the team that best incorporates transportation elements of moving people and freight in and out of its prototypical future city. FHWA announced the winner of its special award at the Future City national finals during National Engineers Week (February 22-27, 2004) in Washington, DC. A team from the Valley Middle School in Oakland, NJ, was the winner of the 2004 FHWA award. The Valley students named their city "Glacialis," after its frigid location in Antarctica.

Martha Soneira (far left) and Debbie Curtis (far right) at Future Cities award presentation.
Martha Soneira (far left) and Debbie Curtis (far right) at Future Cities award presentation.

Student Volunteer Program

The Student Volunteer program at RD&T focuses on establishing partnerships with local universities that help students to obtain practical experience and conduct meaningful research. The program has been expanded to include a formal agreement with the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Volunteer opportunities have also been set up with students from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD and the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG)

The Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG) is an important part of the USDOT intermodal effort to promote the entry of women, persons with disabilities, and members of diverse groups into transportation careers. The internship program offers interns an exciting 10week agenda of transportation research and work experience to introduce them to the many aspects of the field of transportation. RD&T hosted the entire class of 80 STIPDG students for a briefing and tour of the labs in August. Two of the STIPDG students, Shanea Dangerfield and Megan Mowday, completed 10-week internships with the Office of Program Development and Evaluation.

Western Washington Students Demo Cutting-Edge Vehicle Technology

FHWA helped sponsor a Western Washington University student project to design and build a four passenger, four-wheel drive hybrid vehicle that is able to achieve 21.26 kilometers per liter (50 miles per gallon) average fuel consumption. The vehicle was designed to demonstrate new principles of energy management through the use of composite materials, carbon fiber, and monocoque structural design. Given the name Viking 32, the hybrid vehicle utilizes a compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric hybrid power train and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds. It has a top speed of 161 kilometers per hour (km/h) (100 miles per hour (mi/h)). The Viking 32 received the "Grand Award" for light duty vehicles at the 2004 Tour de Soul competition, sponsored by The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA).

Working with AJ Nedzesky of the Office of Safety R&D, Western Washington University students exhibit the Viking 32 natural gas and electric hybrid at USDOT headquarters, Nassif Building.
Working with AJ Nedzesky of the Office of Safety R&D, Western Washington University students exhibit the Viking 32 natural gas and electric hybrid at USDOT headquarters, Nassif Building.

 

The Viking motor and compressed gas cylinder.
The Viking motor and compressed gas cylinder.

 

The Viking's electric power source.
The Viking's electric power source.

Partnerships to Promote Awareness of Technology

RD&T hosted the Department of Energy/Society of Automotive Engineers Ride-n-Drive event May 11 and 12, 2004. The Ride-n-Drive was an opportunity for the public to experience firsthand the advanced technologies that are either currently being used or contemplated for future production vehicles. Vehicles from manufacturers throughout the world were available for test drives, and each manufacturer had representatives onsite to answer questions concerning the new vehicle technologies.

Visitors examine alternative fuel vehicle.
Visitors examine alternative fuel vehicle.

Pedestrian Accommodation and Delineation Device Demo

TFHRC hosted a Pedestrian Accommodation and Delineation Devices Demonstration. This was an all-day event that included an outdoor demonstration at TFHRC. The demonstration included a variety of innovative delineation devices in a simulated work zone walkway. The U.S. Access Board obtained several volunteers with visual disabilities to walk through the work zone and comment on the effectiveness of the devices. The study helped assess the effect of various delineation and barrier devices on visually impaired pedestrians.

Facility Tours

RD&T conducts facility tours, which create awareness among critical audiences and deliver the message that RD&T research provides innovative, real-world solutions to a number of highway-related problems. Each year, RD&T offers tours to hundreds of guests, such as senior legislative and USDOT decision makers, congressional staffers, international research colleagues, FHWA State and local partners, and members of professional organizations and associations. Guests visit the labs and learn about research projects that benefit our Nation's transportation system.

International visitors toured the TFHRC labs.
International visitors toured the TFHRC labs.

TFHRC on Discovery Science Channel

The Discovery Science Channel filmed a show at TFHRC for its educational television series called "Techknowledge." The segment, called "Safe Highways," featured Michael Trentacoste, Office of Safety R&D staff, and Joseph Hartmann of the Office of Infrastructure R&D. The show highlighted TFHRC's instrumented Field Research

Vehicle, a completely self-contained laboratory that provides the ability to take human-centered-sys-tems research on the road. In addition, the segment highlighted the Office of Infrastructure R&D's recent testing of high performance concrete beams. The show also featured footage of the Highway Driving Simulator. Additional footage and interviews were shot in the Structures Laboratory, highlighting innovative research on the full-size curved bridge girder in the TFHRC Structures Lab. Other background material filmed included the Hydraulics Laboratory and the Accelerated Loading Facility. The show titled "Driven by Design" aired on the Discovery Science Channel in March.

Field Research Vehicle featured on Discovery Channel.
Field Research Vehicle featured on Discovery Channel.

 

Research vehicle instrumentation.
Research vehicle instrumentation.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Training

For the past 7 years, firefighters from two Fairfax County, VA Fire and Rescue Departments used crash dummies to practice removing pinned and trapped motorists from automobile crash tests at the TFHRC Federal Outdoor Impact Lab (FOIL). Normally, these firefighters and rescue workers practice their rescue techniques on junked cars at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. However, using crash-test vehicles from the FOIL provides them with a more challenging training exercise, because the FOIL better simulates actual crash conditions. As a result, firefighters who train at the FOIL improve their equipment skills and their rescue techniques in preparation for real-life emergencies.

Fairfax County firefighters practice extraction techniques using TFHRC crash test vehicles.
Fairfax County firefighters practice extraction techniques using TFHRC crash test vehicles.

Serving in our Nation's Armed Forces

A number of RD&T employees are active members of the military reserves. We are proud to support their service to our country.

TFHRC employee with his unit on the National Mall.
TFHRC employee with his unit on the National Mall.

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