It gives me immense pleasure to serve our region as director of the Southern Plains Transportation Center (SPTC). The complex and diverse nature of the impact of weather extremes to our transportation and freight infrastructure is evident in our roadways, bridges and waterways. Recent severe droughts have resulted in losses worth nearly $9 billion annually to managed systems in Oklahoma and Texas alone, including transportation and freight infrastructure. Extreme summer temperatures, flash floods and large numbers of freeze-thaw cycles, coupled with poor soils in most Region 6 states, create monumental challenges to transportation infrastructure health and to public safety.

Consequently, Climate Adaptive Transportation and Freight Infrastructure is the primary focus of SPTC’s research, education and workforce enhancement goals. With eight academic institutions in the SPTC consortium, two international collaborators, and strong connections with the state departments of transportation, the private sector, and institutional level transportation centers, we find ourselves well-equipped to tackle these challenges.  In addition to addressing critical regional and national needs, access to unique resources (e.g., the National Weather Center, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, the Oklahoma Mesonet, the West Texas Mesonet, and the Radar Innovations Laboratory) and tremendous opportunity to engage under-represented groups (particularly, Hispanic, Native American, African American, Women, and First-in-the-Family-to-Attend-College) make this focus important and timely.

I am excited about creating opportunity for collaborations that will cross state and institutional borders, resulting in a synergy of ideas. I look forward to fostering future engineers who will continue the good work we begin at SPTC. I am confident the problems our experienced faculty, students and researchers solve here will have a lasting impact in Region 6 and in the nation.

Musharraf Zaman
Director, Southern Plains Transportation Center
David Ross Boyd Professor and Aaron Alexander Professor of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering
Alumni Chair Professor of Petroleum and Geological Engineering
The University of Oklahoma
Liaison, Oklahoma Transportation Center