FAMU-FSU seeks local support

Local and state officials are trying to make the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering home of the nation’s newest University Transportation Center.

Congressman Allen Boyd, as well as officials from Florida A&M and other state universities, met today at the College of Engineering to discuss a proposal from last August to request that a research center be implemented in the state’s capital.

“This would make FAMU the first historically black institution to have a University Transportation Center in the nation,” said Carmen Cummings, district representative and communications coordinator for Congressman Allen Boyd.

“It would not only mean a lot to the College of Engineering, it would mean a lot to the Tallahassee area, too,” said Ching-Jen Chen, dean of the College of Engineering.

“We would be bringing in a center, and when we extract resources that come to Tallahassee, we are doing something to help the southside of the community.”

The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering was established in 1982 and currently has 2100 students, 37 percent of which are FAMU students. It has six undergraduate and six graduate programs, whose research brings in $11 million annually, including a traffic engineering program.

UTCs across the nation are the results of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which authorized nearly $200 million for grants to establish the research institutions on June 9, 1998.

The grant allotted for up to 33 universities to hold the research centers across the country.

If approved the UTC at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering will focus its research on safety.

“We think there’s a need here to have a safety center,” Boyd said.

It will also join the other Florida institutions that already have research institutions–the University of Florida, Transportation Research Center and Florida Transportation Technology Transfer; the University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research and National Center for Transit Research; and the University of Central Florida, Center for Advanced Transportation Simulation Systems.

The meeting to discuss plans about getting the proposal through for the UTC was held on Wednesday. Ray Bye, vice president for research at FSU and Wanda Ford, a representative for Dyhana Ziegler, interim vice president for research at FAMU, both expressed their excitement and support of the proposal.

“It’s a great opportunity for the two universities to do something they’re both very good at,” Bye said.

“I think that it will be a success,” Ford said, “we just need the necessary support.”

That support includes that of congress, whom Ford said would lead the way to federal funding for the UTC.

“If we didn’t have (Boyd’s) support, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Ford said.

While Ford, Bye and Chen said they believe Boyd supported the proposal to get the research center, they said Boyd told him he doesn’t have the final say.

Chen said they must also have support from someone in the department of transportation.

Then, funding proposals can begin. As for now, everything is in the preliminary stages and Bye said he isn’t sure when the project, if approved, will be underway.

“It will take at least six to nine months to get funding,” he said, “maybe even a year.”


Tanya Caldwell can be reached at Tanya_Caldwell@yahoo.com


-Carmen Cummings, District Representative/Communications Coordinator for Congressman Boyd, 561-3979

–Allen Boyd, Congressman, Second Congressional District, Florida, 561-3979

–Ray Bye, Vice President for Research, Florida State University, 644-3347

-Ching-Jen Chen, Dean of the College of Engineering, 410-6439