Skip to Main Content

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Michael Carroll visited Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) facilities at Mill 19 in Pittsburgh, Pa., on December 1, to meet with transportation researchers to learn more about Safety21, a US DOT National University Transportation Center (UTC), and opportunities for future collaboration.

Safety21 at CMU is the nation’s only UTC that focuses on safety, one of PennDOT’s chief concerns. The center researches, develops, and deploys connected and autonomous vehicles and integrated transportation technologies. Safety 21’s focus on deployment ensures that its research remains relevant to public and private stakeholders.

A woman and two men standing beside a car

Raj Rajkumar (right) took Michael Carroll and Folake Owoloja for a test ride in a self-driving car.

CMU’s Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and the director of Safety21, presented an overview that underscored CMU’s long-established leadership and achievements in transportation. Afterwards, Secretary Carroll; Erica Dutton, a PennDOT special assistant; and Folake Owoloja, district manager at PennDOT, District 11, met with university researchers to learn how their work aligns with PennDOT’s safety goals.

Tim White, senior vice president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC), provided an update on the Pennsylvania Safety, Transportation and Research Track or PennSTART, a state-of-the-art facility that’s under development in Westmoreland Country. Partnering with PennDOT, the PA Turnpike Commission and CMU, PennSTART will address safety, training and research needs relevant to emergency responders, transportation technology companies, and research institutions while supporting the local economy.

A man and a woman in a car

Secretary Michael Carroll and Folake Owoloja took a test ride in the university’s Level-4 self-driving car.

To close out the visit and demonstrate the capabilities of autonomous vehicles, Rajkumar, who leads CMU’s efforts in this area, took Secretary Carroll and Owoloja for a test ride in the university’s Level-4 self-driving car.

Pictured above: CMU and PaDOT officials discussed how Safety21’s research aligns with Pennsylvania’s safety goals. (Left to right:) Raj Rajkumar, Erica Dutton, Folake Owoloja, and Michael Carroll

For media inquiries, please contact Sherry Stokes at