Fresno State announced the opening of its new Transportation Institute at a reception in the Henry Madden Library on Sept. 12, exactly one year after the Fresno Council of Governments Policy Board approved the use of nearly $3 million of Measure C New Technology Reserve funds.

The Fresno County Transportation Authority Board gave final approval in December. The institute will open this fall in a temporary space adjacent to the Engineering East building.

“The Transportation Institute is a true joint project between the University and the community. … It also provides opportunities for University students to work with professors, urban planners and engineers on research, the planning process, grant writing and city government,” said Mike Leonardo, director of the Fresno County Transportation Authority.

The Fresno State Transportation Institute is a collaboration between the 15 cities within Fresno County and Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering, Craig School of Business and College of Social Sciences.

“Faculty and students in the Lyles College of Engineering will collaborate with other researchers on advanced transportation technologies, multi-modal and transit systems and more” said Dr. Ram Nunna, dean of the Lyles College. “The focus on Fresno County transportation further strengthens Fresno State’s commitment to be regionally engaged.”

Dr. Robert Harper, dean of the Craig School, said the College is proud to partner with the Lyles College of Engineering and the College of Social Sciences on this interdisciplinary project.

“Transportation issues pervade many of the functional areas of business, including logistics and supply chain strategies, information technology, management and human resources, marketing and branding, as well as accounting and finance,” Harper said. “Interdisciplinary projects supported by the Transportation Institute will provide enriching experiences for both faculty and students while assisting in economic development for the region.”

On Sept. 8, Michelle DenBeste, interim dean of the College of Social Sciences; Michelle Calvarese, chair of the Department of Geography and City and Regional Planning; and McCaffrey Homes announced Fresno State’s new bachelor’s degree program in City and Regional Planning — effective this fall.

“Our newly approved City and Regional Planning program will be a key player in this institute,” DenBeste said. “Planning students will benefit from the opportunity to have hands-on experience working on transportation projects and gaining experience working for city and county government projects. The institute provides opportunities for student-faculty research and for service in the community. Although the Geography and City and Regional Planning program will be most closely aligned with this institute, there are also opportunities for other programs such as sociology and anthropology to partner on some of the research and community projects.”

The Institute will address four measures consistent with the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Community Strategy.

Education: The institute will support the development and offering of undergraduate, graduate, certificate and other professional development programs, workshops and conferences in areas of advanced multimodal and transit systems and other related fields such as city and regional transportation planning, economics and business, among many others.

Research: The institute will incentivize Fresno State students and faculty to pursue and establish innovative research programs that focus on advanced multimodal and transit solutions and optimization of existing systems; facilitating mobility, improving air quality and reducing traffic congestion and energy demand.

Technical Service: The institute will partner with and provide local agencies human resources and technical expertise to facilitate the pursuit of project grants for the development, implementation and operation of advanced multimodal and transit projects in Fresno County.

Public Outreach: The institute will increase public knowledge, acceptance and expectations for advanced multimodal and transit systems. It will organize K-12 and other public outreach and education that will focus on multimodal and transit challenges and local transportation solutions.

The funding will not only support students and faculty researchers as they address topics such as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, safety, energy, congestion and advanced transportation technologies, but also enable them to seek federal and state transportation grants.

“The Fresno County Transportation Authority is excited about the research and educational opportunities that will be provided to students at Fresno State to explore the challenges that face our Valley, state and nation as new technology is introduced to change the way we move people and goods throughout the world,” said Lynne Ashbeck, Fresno County Transportation Authority board member.

Dr. Aly Tawfik, assistant professor of civil engineering at Fresno State, will serve as the institute’s founding director.

The institute will be staffed by faculty fellows, student researchers and post-doctoral researchers. Faculty fellows will be selected in October. The Lyles College has begun the search process to add two new tenure-track faculty members focusing on high-speed rail, freight transportation, air transportation or transportation safety.

An external advisory board will be formed to provide advice and counsel. More information about the institute’s activities and events will be available at

For more information, contact Rebecca Wass, communications specialist, at 530.208.7445 or

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Lyles College of Engineering


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