U-M Receives Grant from Alcoa Foundation for Sustainable Transportation Research in Detroit, Beijing

Bernie DeGroat, News Services
Release Date: 

The University of Michigan will receive a $250,000 grant from Alcoa Foundation to support U-M's Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation (SMART) project.

The grant will be used to develop and apply practical solutions to the challenges of sustainable transportation in the Detroit and Beijing regions.

SMART  is a cross-university initiative of the U-M Transportation Research Institute  (UMTRI) and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and is now part of Alcoa Foundation's $4 million Advancing Sustainability Research: Innovative Partnerships for Actionable Solutions initiative that funds 10 global sustainability research projects in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and the United States.

The project will marry knowledge and action on sustainable transportation and related sustainable economic development in two cities that are vastly different and yet face challenges and opportunities that might offer wider lessons for advancing sustainable transportation in other regions and communities around the world.

"Sustainable transportation is especially important today because accelerated urbanization, population growth and globalization pose a range of challenges including environmental ones," said Susan Zielinski, director of U-M's SMART program. "These issues make it critical to develop smart and practical transportation solutions that will sustain our cities, our climate and our environment now and in the future."

SMART takes a systems approach to urban mobility and accessibility, Zielinski says. It uses a public-private innovation approach to engage businesses, governments, nongovernmental organizations and academia in mapping and piloting integrated transportation solutions customized to each region. It also identifies related quality of life benefits and economic opportunities.

"The SMART program builds on a long-standing relationship between Alcoa and the University of Michigan," said Tim Myers, president of Alcoa Wheel & Transportation Products. "Our organizations share a strong commitment to sustainability and this SMART research program will lay a foundation for the future of knowledge and action around sustainable transportation."

The projected outcomes of the SMART initiative are to:

• Mobilize a diverse partnership base required to collectively describe, develop and apply practical and integrated solutions.
• Uncover new data and conceptual frameworks: technical, behavioral, economic and policy-focused.
• Pilot innovations, enhancements and communications approaches that will improve transportation connectivity and sustainability in the Beijing and Detroit regions.

In addition to SMART, the Advancing Sustainability Research: Innovative Partnerships for Actionable Solutions initiative has several partners worldwide. Over the course of two years, partners will create and leverage sustainability research, as well as provide opportunities to develop and share solutions worldwide.

U-M Sustainability fosters a more sustainable world through collaborations across campus and beyond aimed at educating students, generating new knowledge, and minimizing our environmental footprint. Learn more at sustainability.umich.edu.

Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation, is a cross-university project of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Ann Arbor, Mich. SMART undertakes and catalyzes research, demonstration projects (living labs), education and global learning exchange on a range of issues related to the sustainable future of transportation in an urbanizing world.

Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $436 million. Founded more than 50 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $530 million since 1952. In 2010, Alcoa Foundation contributed nearly $20 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, focusing on promoting environmental stewardship, enabling economic and social sustainability, and preparing tomorrow's leaders through education and learning. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa's thousands of employee volunteers, who in 2010 gave more than 720,000 service hours. Through the company's signature Month of Service (October) program, Alcoa employees share their energy, passion and purpose to make a difference in our communities. In 2010, a record 49 percent of Alcoans took part in nearly 1,000 Month of Service events across 24 countries, reaching 59,000 children, serving 17,000 meals, planting 16,000 trees and supporting 3,000 nonprofit organizations. For more information about Alcoa Foundation: www.alcoa.com/foundation.

Institute of International Education
Founded in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) is a private not-for-profit leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. In collaboration with governments, foundations and other sponsors, IIE creates programs of study and training for students, educators and professionals from all sectors. These programs include the flagship Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships administered for the U.S. Department of State. IIE also conducts policy research, provides resources on international exchange opportunities and offers support to students and scholars in danger. For more information: www.iie.org.