U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Back to Publication List        
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-047    Date:  September 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-047
Date: September 2017


3. Conducting a Successful TRL Assessment

Once the panel members for the TRL Assessment have been identified, goals have been set, timing and location logistics have been confirmed, and the materials have been prepared and distributed, the day of the TRL Assessment is quite straightforward. The PI presents a brief technology overview at the beginning of the TRL Assessment, the panel deliberates the presentation in private, and then the panel discusses its findings with the PI.

It is important to give the panel enough time for a robust discussion, but longer TRL Assessments are not necessarily better. Planners should think about how much time will be needed to discuss the technology in an efficient and focused manner. Assessments should include a well-thought-out agenda. A sample panel meeting agenda is provided in table 6.

Table 6. Example agenda for TRL Assessment panel meeting.


Agenda Item

9:00 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction of Panelists

9:10 a.m.

Overview of TRL Assessment Process

9:20 a.m.

Technology Overview—PI Presentation with Q&A

10:00 a.m.

Technology Readiness Level Deliberation

11:30 a.m.

Discussion of TRL Assessment Results with PI + Q&A

The TRL Assessment process typically begins with a brief welcome and broad overview of the need that the funded research is trying to address. Once this background has been set, the panel facilitator introduces the panelists and gives them an opportunity to share their expertise as it relates to the research project. In the absence of a dedicated facilitator, the project sponsor may take on this role.

After introductions, the panel facilitator provides a brief overview of the TRL Assessment process before the assessment begins. After that is complete, the project PI provides a technology overview presentation, which typically lasts about 60 minutes, depending on the complexity of the research and testing completed. This presentation should detail the technology developed, how the technology was tested, and proposed next steps. If the project features a research team that spans multiple institutions with distinct research foci, it may make sense to have the PI or co-PI leading each strand of the project presentation on their research activities. The technology overview portion of the agenda should include enough time for clarifying questions from the panel, because the PI will not be participating in the actual assessment.

After the PI has completed his or her presentation and answered panelist questions, the PI leaves the room and the panelists begin deliberations. To begin the assessment portion of the agenda, each panelist shares his or her initial TRL score for the project and a short explanation for why he or she decided on that score. This exercise sets a baseline for the panel discussion, and the panel begins to deliberate the TRL questions one by one to determine a final panel score. To increase efficiency, it is typically best to begin the discussion at one level below the lowest initial TRL—for example, the panel can begin its discussion at TRL 4 if the lowest initial TRL score is 5. Determining what work is required to reach a higher TRL score is more important than coming to a consensus on an exact score.

After the panel has concluded its discussions and agreed upon a TRL score for the project, the PI and project team should rejoin the assessment meeting to hear the panel’s findings and have an open discussion about potential next steps for the research. This is an important opportunity for the PI and the panel to discuss the project and the PI to learn the panel’s thoughts on why the technology’s maturity is ranked where it is and how that maturity can be improved.

An example of a TRL assessment Report can be found in appendix C.

It is important to document both the panel’s discussion as well as the subsequent conversation between the panel and the PI. The panel facilitator or a notetaker should complete a TRL Assessment Report after the TRL Assessment has concluded. The TRL Assessment Report should include information about the goals and technology’s operating environment, drawing as necessary from the framing document. The report also should incorporate comments from the discussion at the TRL Assessment, including why the TRL score for the project was selected and any recommendations for future work. The TRL Assessment Report is a useful tool for sharing information about the project with potential funders of additional work. The report also should provide a concise overview of the project and next steps.




Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101