History of the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute
The Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI) was created in April, 2007 with funding provided in the 2005 federal SAFETEA-LU transportation legislation. The University of Memphis received funding for two separate programs. This funding, with the required matching funds from government and private sector sources, approached $7 million. The monies have been used to establish IFTI, support education programs, conduct research and provide outreach/technology transfer in the area of freight transportation and logistics.
Since its inception, IFTI has brought together public, private, and academic sectors to identify and address critical issues impacting freight movement across the mid-south and the nation. The Institute works to advance research and education on a wide range of topics related to the physical transfer of goods and associated information, core transportation infrastructure, technology innovations, natural and man-made hazards, business practices, and policy and regulatory matters that impact one or more modes of freight transport.
The Institute continues to support and leverage the work of affiliated centers and researchers and manages transportation-related partnerships with Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, other academic institutions, and key public and industry organizations. Affiliated centers involve faculty from a range of engineering and business disciplines and routinely engage in research, education, and outreach activities related to their focused research area. Cross-center collaborations and partnerships that form the Institute's focus relate to broad themes of safety and security, efficiency and productivity, and business continuity and recovery, and their intersecting points of capacity and congestion and finance and policy systems.
The centers that operated under the auspices of the Institute included:
The Center for Intermodal Freight Transportation Studies
The Center for Advanced Intermodal Technologies
The CN - E. Hunter Harrison Center for Intermodal Safety and Emergency Preparedness
In June, 2011, the initial federal funding ended. IFTI received notification in January, 2012 that the proposal submitted by a consortium of ten universities headed by the University of Wisconsin, Madison Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) was funded for one year by the U.S. DOT at $3.5 million. The University of Memphis is serving as the southern hub for the team. Other schools in the southern hub are Vanderbilt University, The University of Alabama, Huntsville, and the University of Southern Mississippi. The consortium must match the grant dollar for dollar with non-federal sources and complete all work within two years.
IFTI developed a strategic plan to guide the institute as it transitions into the future. The strategic plan sets forth a series of goals in the key result areas of education, research, and outreach/technology transfer for IFTI for 2012, 2015, and 2020. It contains supporting information regarding the resources needed to achieve these goals, the potential sources for these resources, and it identifies IFTI personnel responsible for meeting these goals.