Newswise — New Mexico State University is a member of a consortium of universities that have received a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to establish a regional transportation research center. NMSU’s Civil Engineering Department is a member of the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States, or Tran-SET, which is led by Louisiana State University.

The emphasis for Tran-SET is to improve transportation infrastructure through innovative materials and technology. Tran-SET has been awarded a five-year grant and nearly $2.5 million for the fiscal year from the Transportation Department’s University Transportation Centers, or UTCs, program. Craig Newtson, civil engineering professor, is NMSU’s principal investigator. The Tran-SET announcement marks the third research center consortium for NMSU civil engineering.

“This is a great opportunity for NMSU,” said Newtson, who will represent NMSU on Tran-SET’s leadership team. “It’s prestigious funding and it’s great to have it come in. This is the first time we’ve had UTC funding for quite some time. It’s good to get back into that group.”

According to Newtson, the priorities of the center are to fund and conduct research that focuses on extending the life of transportation infrastructure, preserving the environment and preserving the existing transportation system.

“Researchers at NMSU will also be active in research projects most likely related to concrete materials, durability and geo-technical engineering,” he said. “From my work, the focus is on improving durability of civil engineering or transportation infrastructure, pavement, bridges and things along that line.”

The region for Tran-SET includes Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In addition to NMSU and LSU, the consortium includes Arkansas State University, Baton Rouge Community College, Navajo Technical University, Oklahoma State University, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University, University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Arlington and University of Texas at San Antonio.