Lab Spotlight

Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

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The following article is part of an occasional series of profiles on FLC Northeast Region member laboratories.

The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) is a federal, fee-for-service Center of Excellence within the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), located in Cambridge, Mass. A leader in global, multimodal transportation innovation, Volpe Center applies its unique multidisciplinary technical capabilities in support of national transportation goals and priorities. The Center has provided critical support to U.S. DOT modal administrations and offices, other federal agencies, state and local organizations, foreign governments and entities, and the private sector. An anchor presence in Kendall Square since 1970, the Volpe Center has been a good neighbor as well as a stable contributor to the region’s economy.

An Economic Engine in New England

  • Over 1,600 federal employees and contractors.
  • 119th largest employer in Massachusetts and one of the ten largest in Cambridge.
  • 10,000 visitors annually contribute to the economy through accommodations, meals, and transportation.
  • Attracted over $240 million in new work in 2009.
  • Manages U.S. DOT’s multimillion dollar nationwide Small Business Innovation Research program.
  • Member of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce since 1994.

Intellectual Impact

Talent Recruitment and Retention

  • In 2009, the Volpe Center hired more than 50 new staff members and 25 student co-ops, including engineers, operations research and transportation analysts, and IT specialists from 30 colleges and universities.
  • Member of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Industry Affiliates.

Leader in Transportation

  • Volpe Center staff published and presented more than 80 technical papers in 2009.
  • Over 200 Volpe Center employees are involved with national and international transportation committees.
  • The Volpe Center hosts forums for academia, industry, and government to address critical transportation issues.

Volpe Center Library and Information Center

  • The Volpe Center houses a significant wealth of transportation literature.

In the Community

One of the Largest Volunteer Programs in Cambridge

  • Lunch Buddies Reading Program at Kennedy-Longfellow Elementary School in Cambridge.
  • Science Olympiad Program at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.
  • Satellite supporter of Cambridge Learning Center English as a Second Language through Kendall Square Learning Project.

A Tradition of Giving

  • Volpe Center staffers have contributed more than one million dollars to charities through the Combined Federal Campaign since 2000.
  • Through the Feds Feed Families campaign, the Volpe Center helped stock food pantries at three local Cambridge charities.
  • The Volpe Center has been a member of the Greater Boston Federal Executive Board since 1990.

Environmental Leadership

  • The Volpe Center has fostered a culture of recycling and reuse through its greening initiatives.
  • The Massachusetts Recycling Coalition recognized the Volpe Center for its outstanding contributions to recycling.
  • The City of Cambridge named Volpe Center the Go Green Award winner for waste reduction in the large business category. A recent energy audit determined that the Volpe Center’s energy consumption performance is better than 75 percent of contemporary buildings.

Volpe Day Care Center

  • The Volpe Center houses an accredited day care center that is open to the community.

Recent Accolades

  • Air Transport World’s Joseph S. Murphy Industry Service Awardwas presented to the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), which is supported by the Volpe Center on behalf of the FAA.
  • The prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ash Institute at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, for work in global maritime domain awareness.
  • The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Northeast Region’s Regional Laboratory Award.
  • The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s Guardian of the Seawayaward.

The Robert J. Collier Commemorative Medallionfrom the National Aeronautic Association for contributing to the advancement of Federal Aviation Administration programs.

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