Special Committee on Research and Innovation
Keith Platte, P.E., Associate Program Director, Project Delivery
Get a broad overview of the responsibilities and benefits of being a RAC member. Refer to Frequently Asked Questions page for specific questions.
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 “Unofficial Member”; this designation will be removed once the official appointment letter is received and your membership is official.
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.
RAC responsibilities specifically identified by R&I include the following:
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 RAC, 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.
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.
RAC meets twice a year as a full committee.
RAC membership brings with it a wealth of resources 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.
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.
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.
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.