The Department of Transportation addresses University Transportation Centers of Excellence in a report dates June 10, 1991 and the FAA has adopted the definition, purpose, and mission as stated.

...Centers are defined as entities with substantive, continuous ties to universities which, in the university context, advance the state of transportation knowledge within a particular area, or areas, of concentration and contribution. Such a center prepares individuals with transportation skills for career service in the functional areas of transportation in which it specializes.

A Center develops and implements transportation programs within a 'theme' best suited for it to make the most significant contribution to the transportation community in its particular region, and…, nationally. The theme provides the overall direction necessary to focus resources in the most effective way.

As the program matures, each Center will further focus its effort to build expertise and achieve excellence so that the Center can become a national resource in a particular area of transportation.

The purposes of the education element of the program are to: build upon the strengths of existing programs at the Centers, create new innovative programs, expand graduate level transportation education in the United States, and increase the opportunities for new entrants into the field of transportation.

The purpose of the research element is to: identify and conduct high quality research that will foster significant advances in transportation science and technology and generate basic, fundamental and applied knowledge in the appropriate disciplines.

The purpose of the technology transfer element is to: ensure that the results of the research program are widely disseminated, applied, implemented and utilized. This effort requires close interaction between the universities and the entire transportation community. Each university will use its Center Advisory Committee to strengthen linkages to the transportation community in its region and obtain feedback on regional problems and issues....

A fundamental goal of the program is to: establish close linkages between education and research activities. These linkages occur through carefully designed programs that provide continuing opportunities for faculty and students to interact in the classroom and on research projects. The outputs of the research programs have direct and indirect applications to the educational activities....

Although the Centers are separate and distinct from each other, the Center Directors shall cooperate in assuring that the total set of programs meet the transportation needs of the Nation. Center Directors shall meet to share improvements at the various Centers and to provide their own 'peer review' of all aspects of the Program. Center Directors shall exchange information about their education, research and technology transfer programs; disseminate the results of their research; and act as a clearinghouse between the Centers and the transportation community....

DOT is firmly committed to achieving diversity in the program and to implementing measures to attract minorities, women and handicapped persons to centers. Each Center shall develop and plan a program of action that will provide incentives and significantly improve opportunities for minorities, women and handicapped persons. Students who receive fellowships, scholarships or stipends at the Centers must be US citizens or must indicate that they intend to remain in the United States after they graduate.

Conclusions

....the Centers program 'provides a unique opportunity for focusing education, research and technology transfer resources in an unprecedented manner, and to substantially promote, upgrade and expand transportation education and research opportunities in America.