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The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute Research Activities

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Transportation Infrastructure Program

The Transportation Infrastructure Program (TIP) at the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute focuses on the analysis, design, behavior, and evaluation of transportation-related structures. Facilities enable a full range of scale and full-size testing of steel, concrete, wood, masonry, and composite structures and subassemblies, including in-situ bridge and structural monitoring and evaluation; load testing; bridge instrumentation; and non-destructive evaluations. Expertise includes testing and evaluation of the effects of materials, construction practices, design parameters, static/dynamic/repeated loadings, environmental effects and life-cycle costs.

Transportation Operations Program

The Transportation Operations Program (TOP) conducts research in a broad array of essential domains, including highway geometric design, traffic engineering and operations, human factors and highway safety, transportation planning, transportation economics and policy, highway infrastructure management, Geographic Information Systems, and public transit.

Vehicle Systems and Safety Program

The Vehicle Systems and Safety Program studies the design, simulation, and testing of vehicle components and of vehicles interacting with their environment. Facilities maintained by the program permit research and testing on buses, trucks, trains and locomotives, and automobiles, including hybrid, electric, and other alternative-fuel vehicles.

A major center of the program is the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center, whose founding focus is to evaluate new model buses as required by federal law to be eligible for federal funding. Analyses examine safety, structural integrity, durability, performance, maintainability, noise, fuel economy, brake performance, emissions, and alternative fuel systems.

The only university-owned crash-testing facility in the northeastern United States, the Crash Safety Research Center (CSRC) investigates crashworthiness. The center provides researchers with the means to analyze issues related to occupant safety and crash-related injuries; vehicle and highway apparatus design, testing, and analysis; and crash-related data and literature. CSRC also offers educational and training opportunities for students, transportation officials, and the public.

The Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) Center, one of ten Department of Energy (DOE) GATE Centers nationwide, operates an Advanced Energy Storage Center focusing on in-vehicle, high-power, energy storage systems and provides stipend-supported graduate engineering fellowships.

The Hydrogen & Hybrid Vehicle Research Lab harnesses Penn State's unique research and testing capabilities related to vehicle design, performance, and reliability for the long-term development of hydrogen- and fuel cell-powered vehicles, enabling an ideal collaboration for the realization of zero-emission technologies as envisioned by the Department of Energy.

The Electrochemical Engine Center provides a focal point at Penn State for multidisciplinary research on cutting edge electrochemical power devices such as fuel cells and advanced batteries.