I’ve always thought of learning as an evolutionary process. It’s not about achieving a certain level of education, but about sharing knowledge with others to achieve something greater than what could be accomplished alone. Fostered by teamwork, it’s a cycle of professional development that’s constantly evolving, always rewarding and never completed. Learning, then, is about building on knowledge in a new way.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has set the transportation research agenda in the United States for a century, now. By drawing on the brightest minds — and providing ample opportunity for idea exchange via meetings, online resources and vast and varied cooperative research programs — TRB keeps the wheel of intellectual innovation turning. And while many results from TRB-sponsored research are aimed at finding local-level answers, they often solve worldwide problems. Longer pavement life, more efficient operational design, improved traffic safety, enhanced mobility, a healthier public — there’s no area of transportation research that TRB hasn’t transformed for the better. And, since transportation touches every aspect of our lives, that means the work TRB does is vitally important to every one of us, every day.
Yet TRB is made up of people, not simply research areas. It’s fueled by volunteers from across the research community. And those professionals are educated at institutions of higher learning, like Texas A&M University, and — to further that education mission — trained at applied research-focused agencies, like the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). TRB, TTI and Texas A&M — together with all our sister institutions around the world — keep the wheel of discovery turning.
From primary schools to universities, educational institutions kindle the fire of curiosity in young minds. Research institutes like TTI channel that passion, transforming today’s students into tomorrow’s experts. That professional growth often results from experience with national research projects funded through TRB, which then encourages established and budding professionals alike to attend its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Each year, the board invites attendees to share their research findings with colleagues through some 4,000 meetings, poster sessions and presentations. Exhibit floor interactions immerse up-and-coming professionals in thousands of years of expertise they likely wouldn’t have access to back home. Social gatherings encourage them to make connections that can last a lifetime. Yesterday’s graduate students are today’s mentors, paying forward their opportunities to the latest generation of learned professionals.
For a century, TRB has been the clearinghouse for transportation research innovations, helping to build our global transportation network and advancing the global economy. And working with its university and research partners, TRB has fueled the engine of education by setting a national research agenda that encourages excellence by constantly refining good ideas into great solutions.
Happy 100th birthday, TRB. Here’s to the next century of learning together. Now, about those flying cars….