AUTC Partnerships

page last updated: 26 February 2015

The Alaska University Transportation Center maintains active collaborations with a variety of government, private sector, academic, and other research partners. Allowing AUTC and its stakeholders to benefit from pooled resources, combined topical expertise, and unique regional/geographical locations, these partnerships continue to grow along with the Center’s evolving projects.

Here are some of our partners…


Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities: A founding partner of AUTC, Alaska DOT&PF is a primary partner for nearly all AUTC projects. Innovatively developing Alaska solutions to Alaska Challenges, the department oversees the state’s road, rail, air, and maritime transportation systems. The department manages 254 airports, 11 ferries serving 33 communities, 5,700 miles of highway, and 660 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. 

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation: Under Commissioner Larry Hartig, the DEC’s mission is conserving, improving, and protecting Alaska’s natural resources and environment to enhance the health, safety, economic, and social well-being of Alaskans. As an AUTC research partner, DEC partnered is a partner on projects with strong connections to ecosystems and infrastructure. Their ongoing partnership with David Barnes, for instance, involves his work testing dust palliatives on rural Alaska’s unpaved roads (see AUTC #410036). This work is helping develop improvements in the quality of life for rural Alaskans by reducing the fugitive dust problem, while preventing excessive maintenance costs associated with surface replacement. 

Alaska Marine Highway System: With 11 ferry vessels, the AMHS transports an average of 312,000 passengers and 98,000 vehicles per year, servicing 33 communities in Alaska including Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. AMHS is also a key partner for AUTC’s work on Maritime transportation. For example, they partnered with University of Alaska Anchorage researcher Andrew Metzger on a project examining the load environment on ferry berthing and landing facilities in Alaska and Washington (AUTC #309001), and continue to play a role in his work.

California Department of Transportation Caltrans: manages more than 50,000 miles of highway and freeway lanes, and permits more than 400 public use airports and special use hospital heliports and other infrastructure to serve the transportation needs of over 30 million residents. Caltrans has been a valuable partner on AUTC projects, including a project led by Chico State’s Gary Hicks (AUTC #410038) to assist Alaska transportation planners and local agencies with identifying pavement preservation treatments suitable for specific environmental regions in the state.

Idaho Transportation Department A fellow cold-climate mountainous state, Idaho shares many of Alaska’s uncommon transportation challenges. Integrating rail, roadway, airport, and other commercial infrastructure to facilitate the safe, efficient movement of people and goods amidst these challenges makes Idaho one of a few states with such shared transportation experiences.

Minnesota Department of Transportation MnDOT shares Alaska’s unique interests in both cold-weather transportation research, as well as emerging technologies for urban transportation and commercial waterways.

Montana Department of Transportation With many geographic and climatic similarities to Alaska, Montana DOT is a useful partner for AUTC’s projects. In collaboration with the Western Transportation Institute in Bozeman, Montana, Xianming Shi is currently leading a project to Develop Locally Sourced Salt Brine Additive for Anti-Icing (See: AUTC #510006).

Ohio Department of Transportation ODOT is currently a collaborator in an AUTC project with Washington State University on Over-height Vehicle Collision Protection and Detection Systems for Cold Region Highway Bridges (See: AUTC (#510024)

Oklahoma Transportation Center A fellow member of the National University Transportation Center collective, OkTC brings a high level of expertise in several shared areas of research interest, including: Intelligent traffic systems, freight movement and forecasting, sensor development, and emerging material technologies.

Oregon Department of Transportation: ODOT has been a project partner as well as a fellow AASHTO member. The department partnered on a project with AUTC Director Billy Connor to develop a reliable, cost-effective corrosion monitoring system from existing reinforced concrete transportation structures. To learn more about this work, visit the project’s update page, here.

Washington State Department of Transportation: WSDOT operates and maintains 18,500 state highway lane miles, 20 maritime highway ferry terminals, and 3,600 bridge structures including the four longest floating bridges in the United States.  Operating a robust, multi-modal transportation system, the department has been a valuable partner for AUTC projects as the state shares many climatic, geographic, infrastructure, and environmental similarities with Alaska. WSDOT’s interest in chemical deicing technology, for instance, led to a partnership with AUTC and Montana State University to identify, evaluate, and synthesize the best practices to minimize the corrosive effects of deicer corrosion on winter vehicles and equipment (AUTC #410005).

Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works The Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works shares many geographic, infrastructure, and climate-related similarities with Alaska, making it a valuable research partner. AUTC’s Yuri Shur, for example, led a two-phase research project with the agency examining permafrost related damage to the Alaska Highway, which crosses through the Yukon Territory (See: AUTC # 107054, and AUTC # 309035).

Federal Agencies:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) AASHTO is a national advocate on transportation public policy issues and offers services and support to states to improve their ability to serve the public through their transportation programs. With numerous subject matter committees and a wide variety of public sector membership, AASHTO also provides research and guidance on a number of policy and regulatory issues. For example, AASHTO offers guideline provisions on seismic strain limits for steel and other materials used to support bridge structures, a topic investigated in a recent project led by Mervyn Kowalski titled “Strain Limits for Concrete Filled Steel Tubes in AASHTO Seismic Provisions,” (AUTC #510001).

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) FHWA plans, constructs, maintains, and preserves the U.S. Interstate System, including highways, bridges, and tunnels. FHWA provides funding, expertise, and regulatory guidance in these efforts, including partnerships with states like Alaska and research organizations like AUTC. AUTC regularly conducts research regarding FHWA regulatory standards, as done with Ming Lee’s “Converting the FMATS Travel Demand Forecasting Model from GRS II to TransCAD” (AUTC #MISC7), and in Pizhong Qiao’s “Over-Height Vehicle Collusion Protection and Detection System for Cold Region Highway Bridges” (AUTC #510024).

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) NASA is one of many co-sponsors for the annual Alaska Airships Conference: Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop. To learn about this year’s event, visit the website here. This unique event brings roughly 100 international attendants from research, government, industry, finance, defense, and geo-spatial fields to advance discussions about airship feasibility in Alaska and other cold regions.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAA works to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts; to share that knowledge and information with others, and conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. This mission has numerous transportation implications for AUTC researchers. Doug Kane’s “Updated Precipitation Frequency Analysis for the State of Alaska” (AUTC #207119), for instance, aims to help Alaska road and bridge construction managers better anticipate rainfall levels and their impact on vital transportation infrastructure in floodplain regions.

U.S. Department of Agriculture The USDA’s Subarctic Agricultural Research Unit (SARU), based in Fairbanks, Alaska, has partnered with AUTC in a past project on integrated roadside vegetation control planning (See: AUTC #107024). Led by researcher David Barnes, the project compared the attenuation of herbicides used to mitigate roadside vegetation in Alaska.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. DOT works to ensure a “fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system” to meet the nation’s “vital national interests” and improve “the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future” (read more here). Through partnership or sponsorship, the agency is involved with many AUTC projects on a variety of transportation issues (learn more about these project here).


Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) AMATS is a multi-agency team which oversees funding, planning, and coordinating efforts supporting federally-sponsored public transit in the Anchorage metropolitan region and nearby Eagle River.

City of Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS) FMATS manages a multi-modal public transit system in the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, Alaska–the urban sectors of Fairbanks North Star Borough. FMATS partnered on a recent AUTC project transferring the organization’s travel demand forecasting models to TransCAD (See: AUTC #MISC7).

Fairbanks North Star Borough: A local government similar to a County, FNSB covers an area of more than 7,300 square miles in Alaska’s interior, and includes a population of nearly 100,000 residents, seated in Fairbanks. FNSB has been a partner on a variety of AUTC projects from those dealing with travel demand forecasting (AUTC #MISC7) as well as improving decision making on road upgrading processes (AUTC #309020).

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Ted Stevens International boast impressive statistics from a transportation point-of-view… 9.5 hours from 90% of industrial economies, number 2 in the U.S. for landed weight of cargo aircraft, and number 5 in the world for cargo through-put, with over 5 million passengers served in a single year (for more stats click here). Cargo and customer capacity of this scale makes Ted Stevens International an integral component of the Alaska economy, and a go-to partner for aviation related research in Alaska.

Private Sector:

Alaska Railroad Corporation: An independent corporation owned by the State of Alaska, ARC operates 656 miles of track, 45 passenger cars, 51 locomotives, 1,381 owned and leased freight cars servicing an annual average of more than 405,000 passengers and 6.33 million tons of freight. Beyond serving as a key stakeholder to AUTC including governing board representation, ARC has partnered with AUTC on numerous projects. One current project led by Yongtao Dong (AUTC # 510015), for example, is identifying, developing, and implementing technologies to provide remote monitoring and on-site evaluation of structural deficiencies in the Klehini River bridge.

Geo Watersheds Scientific (GW Scientific): GW Scientific works with researchers from universities, industry, and agencies to improve the understanding and management of water resources. They bring helpful expertise to AUTC projects, including a current project to investigate the use of Mirafi nylon wicking fabric to prevent damaging frost boils along Alaska’s Dalton Highway (AUTC #510020).

Kansas Structural Composites Inc. (KSCI) KSCI was founded by Jerry Plunkett, an MIT Metallurgy specialist with seven patents and more than 40 materials innovations across a range of product applications. Under his leadership, KSCI’s R&D activities have utilized inter-disciplinary teams of engineers to develop innovations in all-composite FRB vehicle bridges, fabrication technology, FRP honeycomb bridge panels, and other cost-reductive bridge decking applications. In a recent AUTC partner project with Pizhong Qiao (WSU), KSCI helped develop, manufacture, test, and implement Smart Honeycomb Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (S-FRP) sandwich materials for transportation projects (see: AUTC #107018.)

Midwest Industrial Supply Inc. Midwest manufactures environmentally-conscious solutions to problems associated with dust, erosion, ice, and unstable soils for clients in mass transit, railroad, mining, construction, and other industrial sectors. Midwest has been a valuable partner in a growing portfolio of work within AUTC dealing with rural dust reduction and palliative use in Alaska (See: AUTC #410036 & #510019, , #MISC3, #MISC4, and #107019). A recent story in the Anchorage Daily News, which you can view here, discusses these efforts.

Soilworks Soilworks is a global firm providing soil stabilization solutions to industry, commercial, and military customers. Maker of a variety of supporting products, Soilworks partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and State of Alaska to help develop safe, efficient, short term dust control solutions. The company’s Durasoil product is being tested in a project led by AUTC researcher Bob Perkins on Construction Dust Amelioration (See: AUTC #RR10.03).

TenCate Geosynthetics A leader in geotextiles and industrial fabrics, TenCate has collaborated on numerous AUTC projects. The firm partnered with GW Scientific and the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Engineering and Mines on two US Department of Transportation studies to develop the “Use of Mirafi Nylon Wicking Fabric to Help Prevent Frost Boils in the Dalton Highway Beaver Slide Area, Alaska” (See: AUTC #RR10.02 and AUTC #510020).  The company also partnered with AUTC in a similar study using Wicking fabric to displace water buildups underneath pavement surfaces, which leads to potholes, erosion, and other costly maintenance and safety hazards (See: AUTC #MISC6). Tencate recently won an international award for its work, which you can read about here. For recent presentation on the kind of paving TenCate paving fabrics involved in AUTC’s research, click on this link.

TransCanada Corporation: TransCanada has supported research on topics with which AUTC is becoming increasingly specialized, such as permafrost. For example, TransCanada recently partnered on a project led by Xiong Zhang to study several potential thermal erosion mitigation techniques in an effort to better protect ice-rich cut slopes. Learn more about this project here.

Other Research/University:

University of Alaska Anchorage: UAA is an invaluable research partner. From maritime transportation infrastructure research to work on intelligent transportation system design, our partners in Anchorage are a go-to source of complimentary expertise that enhances the value of our research. And as the Alaska University System attempts to keep pace with the state’s growing demands for engineering expertise, UAA and UAF’s Schools of Engineering will continue to lead this effort by helping educate the next generation of Alaska’s workforce.

Chico State University Chico State is home to the California Pavement Preservation Center, a partner in a key area of AUTC research. The Pavement Preservation Center’s Technical Director, Gary Hicks, led a project with the U.S. Department of Transportation, ADOT&PF, and the California Department of Transportation titled “Developing Guidelines for Pavement Preservation Treatments and for Building a Pavement Preservation Program for Alaska” (See here). The project helped state and local agencies identify pavement preservation treatments appropriate for Alaska’s unique environmental regions. Hicks was also a presenter at the 2011 Alaska Asphalt Pavement Summit in Anchorage, sponsored by AUTC and ADOT&PF.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Numerous CEE professors are principal investigators, co-pis, or partners on many AUTC research projects. The Department’s wide variety of represented disciplines makes it an important resource for much of AUTC’s collaborative and applied research.

Harbin Institute of Technology, China HIT is one of six key national universities within China focusing on engineering and science research. HIT partnered with AUTC in a study testing how bridge foundations seated in liquefieable soils react during seismic events (earthquakes), in a project you can learn more about here.

Laval University Laval has been a helpful partner in a study on using Geophysical survey methods like ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity tomography to aid arctic and subarctic transportation planning (See project page here). A project led by Bill Schnabel, AUTC partner and Director of INE’s Water and Environmental Research Center, examined this topic with help from collaborators at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Laval. The team published a recent preliminary draft on AUTC’s website, here.

North Carolina State University: NC State’s College of Engineering supports 28 engineering-related research institutes, centers, and specialized laboratories (learn more here), and is an innovative partner for AUTC’s work. For example, NCSU Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, Mervyn Kowalsky led a project with AUTC (AUTC #410001) to investigate bridge and marine structure design practices aiming to identify improved connection design approaches to produce necessary ductility and energy absorbing capacities required for designs in Alaska. (See another Kowalsky-AUTC collaboration here.)

Texas A&M: Texas A&M is a national leader in engineering research and education. The college recently partnered with AUTC in a study led by Xiong Zhang (AUTC #410025) to develop a method for rapidly determining and analyzing unsaturated soil behavior through a new approach: the Modified A shake table model of a single pipe embedded in a frozen silt layer overlying a liquefiable sand layer adjacent to a river channel.

University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research ISER is a public policy research group with a focus on social and economic analysis in Alaska. As a partner with AUTC’s work, Virginia Fay, a natural resource economist at ISER, led a project examining the impact of price shocks and climate change legislation on energy use and transportation in Alaska (See AUTC #309002).

University of Houston: UH has helped projects that hone AUTC’s specialized research capabilities in areas like pavement preservation. In a recent collaboration, UH and AUTC supported a project led by Zhaohui Yang at UAA to test carbon fiber tape based de-icing technology to develop this environmentally friendly, anti-corrosive, and cost-effective means to improve transportation safety. Learn more about this work here.

Washington State University: A fellow member of AASHTO, WSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers expertise in the areas of Environmental, Geotechnical and Transportation, Hydraulic and Water Resources, and Structural and Materials engineering.  WSU partnered with AUTC in work related to both structural integrity and transportation asset management issues. For example, WSU’s Pizhong Qiao partnered with UAF’s Leroy Hulsey in an ongoing project (AUTC #510024) to examine the use of high energy absorbing materials and smart sensors in protecting against costly bridge damage in cold regions.

Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University-Bozeman: WTI is a project level partner in some of AUTC’s innovative pavement preservation work. For example, WTI researchers collaborated with AUTC’s Jenny Liu to develop and test locally-sourced salt brine additives to determine their suitability for anti-icing during winter maintenance in Alaska. To learn more about this work, visit the project’s update page, here.


Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

Alaska Marine Highway System

Idaho Transportation Department

Minnesota Department of Transportation

Ohio Department of Transportation

Oklahoma Transportation Center

Oregon Department of Transportation

Washington State Department of Transportation

Yukon Highways Public Works


American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Transportation


Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS)

City of Fairbanks

Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS)

Fairbanks North Star Borough

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Private Sector

Alaska Railroad Corporation

Geo Watersheds Scientific (GW Scientific)

Kansas Structural Composites Inc. (KSCI)

Midwest Industrial Supply Inc.


TenCate Geosynthetics

TransCanada Corporation

Other Research/University

Chico State University

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Corrosion and Sustainable Infrastructure Lab, Montana State University-Bozeman

Harbin Institute of Technology, China

Laval University

University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research

University of Houston

University of Mississippi

Water and Environmental Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University-Bozeman