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Sweatman prepares for transition to MTC; Flannagan to serve as UMTRI interim director

August 4, 2015

U-M Interim Vice President for Research S. Jack Hu announced today that Dr. Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and the Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), two interdisciplinary units of the U-M Office of Research, has been appointed full-time as director of MTC. As part of this transition, Dr. Carol Flannagan, associate research scientist at UMTRI, has been appointed interim director of UMTRI. Both appointments are effective September 1, 2015.

Launched in 2013, the MTC now has working partnerships with nearly 50 companies as well as with federal, state, and local government. It also just opened Mcity, the world’s first test environment designed expressly to evaluate the safety and performance of connected, automated, and autonomous vehicles. With the unit now fully operational, it requires Dr. Sweatman’s full attention as it moves forward on its ambitious plans for further growth and development.

Sweatman is an international authority on transportation research and development with a specialty in heavy-vehicle-infrastructure interaction, Dr. Sweatman came to UMTRI as director in 2004. He has become widely recognized as a leader in intelligent vehicle systems (ITS), working closely with government and industry in this emerging field. In 2010, he was appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ITS Advisory Committee, and he currently serves on the ITS America Board of Directors. He played a key role in bringing the landmark Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment to UMTRI. This $31 million program was funded by U.S. DOT to test the viability of connected technology by equipping nearly 3,000 private vehicles in Ann Arbor—along with selected intersections, curves, and freeway sites—with devices that collect data that can be used to alert drivers to potentially dangerous situations.

“Peter has demonstrated exceptional leadership in overseeing UMTRI and in guiding the development of the MTC,” said Hu. “His stature in the field of connected and automated vehicles; his strong relationships with government and industry; and his vision for a safer, greener future for mobility will serve the university well as we take the MTC to the next level.”

A national search is under way to find a permanent director for UMTRI, and Hu said he expects the process to be complete by the end of the current calendar year.

During this transition, Flannagan has been appointed UMTRI interim director. Flannagan is associate research scientist in UMTRI’s Biosciences Group and co-director of its Center for the Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation (CMISST). She joined UMTRI in 1991 after completing her Ph.D. in mathematical and experimental psychology at U-M. Her research interests include ergonomics in automotive design and crash database analysis. She has performed extensive analyses of various crash databases to identify injury patterns and trends and to identify predictors of injuries in different types of crashes. In addition, she often provides statistical advice to other UMTRI groups.

“With her strong research background, and her clear grasp of the mission of UMTRI and its unique position among U-M interdisciplinary units, I believe that Carol is the right person to guide us through the period of transition as we search for a new director. I look forward to working with her in the coming months,” said Hu.

Photo: UMTRI’s external advisory board recently presented Peter Sweatman with a special plaque honoring his successful leadership as UMTRI director. “The strong growth that UMTRI has gone through and the solid foundation that has been set for future growth under Peter’s leadership has truly been outstanding,” said Jim Keller, senior manager and chief engineer, Honda R & D Americas, Inc., and chairman of the UMTRI external advisory board. Shown from left are Mike Trentacoste, Ann Dellinger, Chuck Gulash, Jim Keller, Peter Sweatman, Chris Mullen, Adrian Lund, and Warren Hoemann.

Credit: Francine Romine, UMTRI