The goal of the Transportation industry focus area is to produce graduates who will become recognized leaders in the field through the solution of problems including transportation infrastructure, manufacturing competitiveness, service economies, and global supply chain logistics. This goal will be achieved through relevant industry -inspired applied research and basic research in energy related fields.
Transportation systems include ground-based vehicle systems; underwater vehicles; flight and space vehicles; robotic systems; micro vehicles; intelligent manned and unmanned vehicles; remotely operated vehicle systems; freight transport systems; transportation data gathering and fusion; sensor systems for estimation of vehicle state information; transportation infrastructure; and systems of vehicles acting cooperatively. Two cross-cutting societal issues that will be addressed within this area are next-generation personal transportation systems and optimal strategies for vehicle routing and logistics. The challenges of designing, manufacturing, and supporting modern vehicle systems and all of the associated infra-structure requires teams of professionals and expertise from multiple disciplines. Modern hybrid vehicles, for example, require a full understanding of multiple fields of engineering and technology including chemical, mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering. These systems require a closer coupling of electrical (energy conversion), mechanical (power-train) and chemical (energy storage) engineering than traditional vehicles. Global supply chain logistics and international trade issues associated with the global supply of rare earth elements used in magnets create hugely complex research problems.
Engineering skills from a variety of disciplines are required to address transportation issues and their accompanying societal challenges as the world becomes more flat, and people as well as goods, become more mobile.