MassDOT Process for Soliciting and Selecting Research Projects

MassDOT is currently seeking Principal Investigators (PIs) for two research projects on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS):
1) A UAS Network for Transportation Emergency Response
2) Detecting Subsurface Voids in Roadways using UAS with Infrared Thermal Imaging
Researchers interested in applying as a PI for either of these projects should complete the short PI Interest Statement form and submit it along with a two-page CV for each PI/co-PI to UMass Transportation Center Director Mike Knodler (  no later than THURSDAY, JULY 2ND.  Researchers interested in applying as a PI for both projects should submit a separate interest statement for each. Any questions can be directed to Mike Knodler.  Thank you.

PI Interest Statement Form

A UAS Network for Transportation Emergency Response Project Statement

Detecting Subsurface Voids in Roadways using UAS with Infrared Thermal Imaging Project Statement

MassDOT uses a multi-step process for soliciting and selecting research projects for funding. 

For MassDOT's upcoming spring 2020 Research Project selection cycle (FFY 2021 projects), MassDOT has reached out to potential Project Champions (PCs) and Principal Investigators (PIs) and hosted Research Roundtables to bring state transportation practitioners and academic researchers together.  At the roundtables, academic researchers are able to learn more about MassDOT research priorities and MassDOT personnel hear from researchers about their expertise and work to help address transportation challenges through innovation and research.  

MassDOT holds a Research Problem Statement Solicitation each spring, where MassDOT staff can submit proposed projects for consideration. This year's Research Problem Statement Solicitation ends on Friday, June 5th.   After the solicitation period is over, the submitted Research Problem Statements are reviewed and used to develop a shorter list of potential projects for funding.  A call then goes out to invite academic researchers to apply as PIs for the proposed projects.  Once the PIs for each project are selected, a detailed Scope of Work (SOW) is developed, and funding approval sought by the Federal Highway Administration.  The research projects begin once FHWA approval has been obtained and funding received.    

Here is the presentation MassDOT 2021 New Research Project Orientation, given at the Research Roundtable Kick Off meeting, on April 30th, 2020.


Here is a copy of the slides from the MassDOT presentation at the Research Roundtable Kick Off meeting.  


RESEARCH PROBLEM STATEMENT SOLICITATION  -- The Solicitation Period closed June 5, 2020.

2021 Research Problem Statement Solicitation Form Guidance

2021 Research Problem Statement Solicitation Form

During this stage, Research Problem Statements are submitted to MassDOT for potential funding.  Each Research Problem Statement is submitted by a MassDOT staff person who will serve as Project Champion (PC).   The submitted topics should be related to surface transportation or intermodal transportation.  Also, the Research Problem Statements should address the following:

  • What question(s) is the PC seeking to answer through the project?
  • What deliverables should be part of the project, including any datasets or analytical tools?
  • How will the results of this project be used?
  • How will MassDOT benefit from this project?


During this stage, MassDOT reviews the submitted Research Problem Statements and selects which ones will be advanced for potential funding.  A list of the recently proposed research project statements for 2020 is provided below. You can click on the listed projects for more information on what the studies entail.  


During this stage, MassDOT seeks qualified researchers to conduct studies on the topics that are proposed for research funding. 


During this stage, MassDOT selected the PIs for the proposed projects and works with each PI to develop a detailed Scope of Work (SOW). 

MassDOT FFY 2020 Research Project Statements

Research Project Statements can be viewed by clicking on the project titles listed below. The submission periods for PI (Principal Investigator) Interest Statements for these projects ended in September 2019.  MassDOT has now selected PIs for all the proposed projects.  These projects are expected to take one to two years each.  

FFY 2020 Research Projects with PIs Selected

Post-Fire Damage Inspection of Concrete Structures

A Method for Pavement Marking Inventory and Retroreflectivity Condition Assessment Using Mobile LiDAR  

Future of the Commonwealth's Curb

Flexible Transit for Rural Areas

Extending Service Life of Concrete Sidewalks Exposed to Extreme Weather Conditions through Internal Conditioning and Improved Workmanship

Energy Consumption, Cost, and Emissions of an MBTA Rapid Transit Vehicle

Effectiveness of Bicycle Boxes in Massachusetts

Impact of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) on Road Safety and Implications for Education, Licensing, Registration, and Enforcement

Evaluating the Safety Impacts of Flashing Yellow Permissive Left-Turn Indications in Massachusetts

3D Printing Additive Manufacturing Feasibility for Highway Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance 

Improving the Long-Term Condition of Pavements in Massachusetts and Determining Return on Investment: Implementing the AASHTO Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide - PHASE I  

Understanding Asset Management Systems Utilized by Municipalities in Massachusetts

 Short Sea Shipping in Southeastern Mass