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11 In addition to the LTAP/TTAP centers and their national tise for accomplishing the task of technology transfer. There LTAP organization, the LTAP Clearinghouse provides pro- is now a cadre of technology transfer and implementation gram support to LTAP. The American Public Works Asso- experts available to close the gap between innovation and ciation operates the clearinghouse through a contract with practice. Many of these professionals have acquired their FHWA. The clearinghouse provides technical, publication, expertise from involvement in LTAP/TTAP. Others, espe- and program support for the LTAP/TTAP centers. cially in state DOTs, have increased their knowledge through years of experience in fostering the application of research A number of other players have had a significant influence results. on transportation technology transfer. In 1970 Congress cre- ated the National Highway Institute, an FHWA organization In addition to those knowledgeable about technology that provides training, resource materials, and educational transfer, other professional disciplines have been brought opportunities to the surface transportation community. At into the technology transfer process. Expertise in information about the same time, TRB instituted TRIS. The TRIS data- services, organizational management including the forming base is the most comprehensive bibliographic resource for of alliances and partnerships, and marketing and communi- transportation information. Additionally, AASHTO, TRB, and cations is being brought to bear on technology transfer and other professional organizations such as ITE, ASCE, and ITS implementation of research results. America have created forums for the exchange and transfer of information critical for applying innovation to transportation. Additional Characteristics of the Current Environment CURRENT CONTEXT--TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER IN HIGHWAY TRANSPORTATION For the most part, technology transfer is now recognized as an important part of state research programs. However, recog- Today the transportation community benefits from the expe- nition of the relationship between technology transfer and riences of the past four decades that included creating a foun- achieving agency goals is relatively recent. State DOT research dation for technology transfer and building on it. However, units are continuing to develop this concept. Also, in general, change is increasingly more rapid and technologies can be the state research programs are using the term "implementation vastly more complex and sophisticated. The need still exists, of research results" nearly synonymously with the term tech- and may be more acute, to transfer research results and other nology transfer. Such dual usage appears in this document as new, or new-to-the user, technologies into useful processes, reflecting state DOT practice. products, and practices. There is a general acknowledgement that specific resources are required for accomplishing technology transfer and imple- Two Primary Changes mentation activities and that providing these resources facil- Two changes that occurred in the past decades significantly itates the adoption and deployment of innovations. State DOTs influenced the current environment for technology transfer in are beginning to budget funds and human resources for tech- highway transportation. Foremost, both the resources and nology transfer and implementation of research results. This is expertise applied to technology transfer have increased dra- very different from past practices of relying on the opera- matically. These increases come from greater amounts of tional environment to supply all resources for any implementa- legislated funds for research and related activities, includ- tion or technology transfer activity. Moreover, there is an ing implementation of research results and LTAP/TTAP awareness of the research units being the focus for expertise activities, and from the resources put forth through exter- in technology transfer whether the innovation under consid- nal partnerships--committing technical expertise, facilities, eration is a result of the program's research activities or from equipment, and in some cases additional funding. The sec- some other source. ond primary change is that there are more people involved in technology transfer, especially within state transportation Another characteristic of the current environment includes departments, and they are more broadly distributed throughout not only the more common practice of pushing technology the departments. In the past, those interested in technology out to users, but users seeking innovations and existing solu- transfer were most likely to be located in the research offices. tions to problems by pulling technology into the operational Now, participants come from within operating divisions and setting. Technology transfer no longer is solely the responsi- regional or county offices of the agency, and also more fre- bility of the research group trying to get its results put into quently include senior managers who support the efforts. practice. Increasingly, operational units are lead participants Moreover, others often involved are the partners in academia in bringing innovations to transportation practice. and the private sector, and FHWA or other federal-level orga- nizations (Harder 2003b, pp. 912). There is growing recognition that technology transfer now is both the practitioner's responsibility and the researcher's Another substantial change reflected in the current high- responsibility. The collaborative nature of technology transfer way transportation community is the higher level of exper- is becoming more accepted. In several states, cross-disciplinary
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12 teams of practitioners, researchers, and technology transfer TABLE 1 agents exist as formally structured mechanisms rather than as RESPONDENT'S YEARS OF INVOLVEMENT AND AVERAGE TENURE--TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER/IMPLEMENTATION a hit-or-miss team-forming, ad hoc process. OF RESEARCH State DOT LTAP/TTAP Currently, technology transfer is a more planned and delib- erate process than ever before. The planning of technology Years of Average Average Involvement No. Tenure (years) No. Tenure (years) transfer activities and tracking and monitoring of performance are becoming necessary components of technology transfer and 05 17 3.4 7 2.4 particularly of research results implementation. 614 8 6.3 9 11.1 15 and over 13 19.3 6 17 Today virtually every state DOT uses some of the com- mon tools for technology transfer. These include myriad communications processes from person-to-person venues middle experience level group (6 to 14 years). Retirements to documents, reports, newsletters, brochures, and summa- will occur among the most experienced group, and creating ries to training, demonstrations, showcases, and the Inter- opportunities to share and document their expertise could net. Information dissemination and its availability by means contribute to a collection of successful practices for technol- of the Internet is a remarkable phenomenon for technol- ogy transfer and implementation of research results. ogy transfer. Opportunities are increasing to create valuable resources such as user group communities and best practices Information from the responding LTAP/TTAP centers collections. noted that they are better positioned to retain the current level of knowledge and skills for technology transfer. The distri- The state of the practice of technology transfer also is bution of years of experience has a balance of the new and the becoming more strategic. States and FHWA understand that most experienced, with a strong group in the middle experi- deployment of innovations can be a key to maximizing the ence level group. Five of the seven LTAP/TTAP centers with value of transportation assets. Using technology transfer as a respondents having 5 years or less experience are operated strategic tool to speed innovations into the transportation sys- by state DOTs. This may be an indication of the generally tem is becoming an important management lever. high turnover rate in the state DOT-operated centers or that states are showing high levels of retirement in this area and Although increased resources are being applied to tech- efforts have recently been made to replace this talent. nology transfer and with greater sophistication, there is much yet to be done. Within the state DOTs there are varying Experience matters when considering program invest- degrees of application of technology transfer practices. Incon- ment for technology transfer and implementation of research sistencies abound and the change that technology transfer results. Both state DOTs and LTAP/TTAP centers showed promotes may be difficult for even the most forward-thinking substantially larger technology transfer program investment agencies. Successes follow on the heels of difficult and for respondents having 15 years or greater experience. For lengthy "not quite successes." Processes are not yet recog- those state DOTs, the investment amount was more than nized as best practices and significant challenges still need three times that of respondents having 6 to 14 years experi- resolution. ence and more than double the investment being made by those with experience of 5 years or less. LTAP/TTAP center Profiles of Respondents from Surveys technology transfer investments for the respondents with the most experience were nearly twice that of the respondents' To better understand the perspectives from the synthesis programs with 6 to 14 years experience and greater than twice survey respondents, some general characteristics about the the investments of programs for those having experience of respondents are included in this section. 5 years or less. Table 1 contains a listing of the years of experience of Respondents have carried out or conducted technology respondents from the state DOT and LTAP/TTAP surveys. transfer in a variety of capacities. Thirty of 38 state DOTs, Within the DOTs, the distribution shows a sizeable group almost 80% of the respondents, were (or are) research man- of individuals who are new to the technology transfer area agers, because they performed technology transfer or the within the past 5 years. It also shows that there is a very expe- implementation of research results activities (see Figure 1). rienced group that has been involved with these activities, Technology transfer or implementation duties were also with an average tenure of more than 19 years. A key to main- done as these people worked in other areas of the department, taining a knowledge and skills level for technology transfer such as other central or field offices. Most of the respondents' in state DOTs will be to encourage building on the basic activities in technology transfer or implementation of research experience of those relatively new to technology transfer results was found in the research unit whether one was a activities and to retain the expertise of those who are in the researcher or research manager.
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13 Field Office Field Office Staff Central Office Management 1 Management 3 6 Senior Central Office Management Staff 6 5 Research Researcher Manager 11 30 FIGURE 1 Respondent's role when carrying out technology transfer (state DOT). Thirty-eight respondents, multiple responses permitted. Eight of the state DOT respondents were in agencies that cies. Certainly, if an agency commits resources to a coordi- operate an LTAP center. All eight had respondents that were nating function it might be expected that greater investment researchers or in research management when performing would occur; however, the difference of a factor of 10 is per- technology transfer or implementation of research results. haps more dramatic than one might anticipate. The survey results did not specifically identify the degree to which LTAP was associated with the research unit, but sug- A brief analysis of all LTAP/TTAP centers shows that gested that a direct connection existed among these states' most of the centers are located in organizations apart from the research units and the technology transfer activities of the state DOT that funds them. Approximately 25% of the LTAP LTAP center. centers are operated by state DOTs and 75% are operated by others. Outside of the state DOT, universities are the preferred Additionally, having a role assigned in the DOT for choice for LTAP/TTAP operators, and all TTAP centers are agency-wide coordination of technology transfer or imple- operated by organizations other than the state DOT. mentation of research results showed a strong relationship to larger investment in technology transfer activities. For pro- LTAP/TTAP center respondents had a somewhat different grams with a person or group assigned to coordinate the tech- experience than the state DOT respondents (see Figure 2). nology transfer activities the investment in technology trans- Many of the LTAP and TTAP respondents had functioned fer was 10 times that of agencies that had no such coordination. in the role of technology transfer program manager or staff. Eight DOTs indicated no coordinating function in their agen- They had not participated in technology transfer or imple- Researcher 3 Research Mgmt./Admin. 4 Central Office Staff 4 Central Office Management 5 Senior Management 7 Field Office Tech Transfer Staff/Mgmt. Program Staff 2 14 Tech Transfer Program Manager 15 FIGURE 2 Respondent's role when carrying out technology transfer (LTAP/TTAP). Twenty-two respondents, multiple responses permitted.