Special Committee on Research and Innovation


AASHTO Liaison
Glenn Page, Associate Program Director, Project Delivery
gpage@aashto.org

RAC NEW MEMBER GUIDE​


Get a broad overview of the responsibilities and benefits of being a RAC member. Refer to Frequently ​Asked Questions page for specific questions. 

   RAC 101 PowerPoint     

Table of Contents​

First things first​…

Your agency’s CEO should inform AASHTO when you are newly appointed to RAC. ​That makes your membership “official” and will get you onto the RAC Roster, and the regional and national listservs.

You’ll know your appointment has been confirmed when you receive a letter of welcome from the RAC Secretary. (See sample email.) Shortly thereafter, your regional Chair will contact you to assign a mentor​ who will help familiarize you with the role, responsibilities, resources, and activities of RAC.

Note that once you are nominated, you can request to be added ​to the regional and national listservs, prior to receiving the official appointment letter from AASHTO. In addition, you can be added to the RAC Roster, with the designation of “Unofficia​l Member”; this designation will be removed once the official appointment letter is received and your membership is official.

What is RAC and what do we do?

The Research Advisory Committee (RAC) to the AASHTO Special Committee on Research and Innovation (R&I) ​supports the activities of R&I and is committed to being a proactive committee promoting quality and excellence in research, and in the application of research findings to improve state transportation systems. Each AASHTO Member Department is represented on RAC.

Aside from their activities on a national level, RAC members usually work closely with other members in the same AASHTO region on issues affecting them directly. See the RAC Roster for a list of current members from each region. Also, more information about the AASHTO regions is available on the Regional RAC page.
The business of RAC is guided by a set of operating guidelines​.

More about RAC duties.

​RAC responsibilities specifically identified by R&I include the following:

  • Work with the AASHTO Member Departments to facilitate the development of research problem statements for consideration by R&I and incorporation into the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP).
  • Participate in rating NCHRP problem statements each year and provide the results to R&I for its annual selection procedure.
  • Undertake an organized program to identify ongoing and planned state-controlled research being sponsored by Member Departments.
  • Provide advice and recommendations on transportation research matters to R&I.
  • Serve as a resource to Member Department research managers regarding the conduct of research and technology transfer activities.
  • Be an advocate for transportation research by promoting the value of research, the implementation of research results, the transfer of new technologies, and the benefits of peer exchanges.

History

The concept of RAC was developed during a meeting of the Task Force on AASHTO Organization which met during the summer of 1987.

​Shortly following the 1987 Annual Meeting, AASHTO established the Special Committee on Research and Innovation (R&I) to replace the then operating Select Committee on Research. A feature of the new R&I was the charge:

“The Standing Committee shall also have a Research Advisory Committee, and each Member Department shall be entitled to representation thereon. The President of the Association shall designate a Chairman and Vice Chairman for the Research Advisory Committee.”

Most AASHTO Standing Committees, including RA​C​, have representatives from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The membership of R&I, however, comprises a Chair, Vice-Chair, and four members from each of the four AASHTO geographic regions. Of these latter 16 members, half are senior executives of AASHTO Member Departments and half are state DOT research engineers or specialists. ​

​The creation of RAC provided a forum for representatives of research activities from all Member Departments. It was AASHTO’s intention to have RAC facilitate R&I’s work.

How does RAC work? 

​RAC is governed by a leadership board comprised of the national and regional chairs and vice chairs, as well as ex officio members from TRB, AASHTO, FHWA and OST-R (formerly RITA). The RAC leadership board conducts the daily business of RAC.

 

Much of the volunteer work of RAC takes place within its task forces. Visit the Task Forces page for more information. The activities and accomplishments of the task forces are reported regularly on the website. Each AASHTO region is represented on every task force.

 

When does RAC meet?

RAC meets twice a year as a full committee.

  • Summer meeting – A multi-day (typically four days) meeting takes place in the summer, hosted by one of the four RAC regions in rotating order.
  • Winter meeting – A three hour meeting during the TRB annual meeting in January provides an opportunity to report on activities and current issues.
  • RAC leadership, Regions and Task Forces hold regular conference calls throughout the year.

How can RAC membership help me?​

RAC membership brings with it a wealth of res​ou​rces​ that can help you do your job as a research manager. The most valuable asset may be the contacts you make with other RAC members and transportation professionals.

More…

How to conduct a Peer Exchange.

​During the peer exchange, you and your staff will convene a meeting with peers to exchange ideas on topics selected by the host. A periodic peer exchange is required by federal legislation and provides a valuable tool for a state to evaluate improve the quality and effectiveness of its research management processes. ​

Straining the alphabet soup – who are all these guys?

If you are new to transportation research, you may well be getting overwhelmed by the number of acronyms and abbreviations you are faced with. Don’t worry – this will become second nature in no time. In the meantime, check out the list of acronyms on the site. Also, take a look at this Map of U.S. Highway Research Organization Relationships.

More​…

What are my responsibilities and opportunities as a RAC member?

You can contribute to the body of knowledge and help RAC achieve its mission and goals.

As RAC member, you are responsible for submitting information about your DOTs research work to the Research in Progress (RiP) and Transportation Research International Documentation (TRID) databases​.

RAC membership allows you to help steer the nation’s research agenda through participation in national research programs such as the NCHRP. You can submit problem statements, provide review comments and rankings on all problem statements submitted, and serve on project panels to help guide the work.
If you receive a survey through the RAC listserv, please take the time to have it completed by the right people in your DOT.
To really help with the day to day work of RAC, consider joining one of the task forces as a member or friend.

Are you also the TRB State Representative?​

More than 80% of RAC members are also their agency’s official TRB State Representative. A set of guides and resources for TRB State Representatives​ is available on the TRB Website.

I’ve got a lot more questions… 

The RAC R​oster is a great way to contact all RAC members.
Many RAC members use the listserv frequently to surve​y the current state of practice in a given subject area. The results will be posted on the website for others to benefit.
Always feel free to contact another RAC member in a nearby state or across the country. You’ll find everyone is willing to help.

In closing…

We hope this brief introduction to RAC was helpful to you. Please feel free to contact the Webmaster​​ or the RAC Secretary if we can be of any further assistance to you.