Research Project Solicitation
MDT's Research Programs are internally-driven applied research, development, and technology transfer (RD&T) programs necessary in connection with the planning, design, construction, management, and maintenance of highway, public transportation, and intermodal transportation systems. You are encouraged to submit your research ideas through this solicitation process. Research ideas can be submitted at any time by anyone; however, they may only be considered once a year during MDT’s annual solicitation. There are other processes for moving research topics forward outside of the annual solicitation if the topic meets certain criteria, such as designation as an administration high priority topics, small project, partnering project, or an experimental feature. Contact the Research Office ( or 406-444-7693.) if you are unsure as to whether your idea meets any of these other criteria.
Funds are limited and are not enough to meet the needs. Given this, research topics approved by MDT must provide real value to MDT. Those with the highest high value, given the below criteria and available funding, will move forward to the technical panel stage.
- Priority research focus areas (if any, listed below);
- Scope, budget, and timeline are appropriate for available resources (limited funds need to be allocated to highest priorities) and timeliness/urgency of topic;
- Importance (e.g., federal or state initiative or compliance);
- Benefits and pay-off (including as they relate to MDT’s mission and "strategic plan"; e.g., return on investment, cost/lives savings, etc.);
- Implementability; and
- Feasibility/probability of success/risk (What is success?)
Priority Research Focus Areas: None at this time.
The MDT solicitation for research topics is a two-stage process.
The first stage involves the completion of the Stage 1: Research Idea Form. This form is relatively short and intended to provide MDT enough information to identify a project champion and to conduct a literature search on the topic. The Stage 1: Research Idea Form is due March 31st of each year and can be submitted via the Stage 1: Research Project Idea Form. The completed form should be emailed to . Research staff will send an email acknowledgement once received. If you do not receive an email acknowledgement, please contact .
Research project champions are any MDT staff who feel strongly about the potential research to be involved with the research from the idea stage through implementation and the development of performance measures, as applicable. The champion typically chairs the project technical panel if the project moves forward to this stage. For ideas submitted by MDT staff, typically, the submitter or someone else in their area is the project champion. MDT staff is encouraged to reach out to research staff, university staff, and others to discuss problems, as opposed to research needs. Once these problems are identified, potential for research solution(s) can be identified. Likewise, individuals interested in conducting research for MDT should make connections with MDT staff in their area of expertise to discuss MDT issues and the potential for research solution(s), matching researcher areas of expertise to MDT research needs. This person or someone else in the same MDT area typically becomes the project champion. The champion field is not required to be completed when the Stage 1 form is submitted. If an external submittal does not include a champion, research staff will attempt to identify one. If a champion is not identified by the submitter or research staff, the idea does not move forward and the submitter is notified.
Once a research idea has a champion, a literature search will be conducted to determine if there is any related ongoing or completed research. If there is, the research project idea will be evaluated in this context and a determination will be made as to whether the idea or some variation thereof, including implementation and deployment projects, will move forward to Stage 2.
The second stage involves the completion of the Stage 2: Research Topic Statement Form and can be completed by anyone, likely the original submitter or the project champion. This form includes the results of the Stage 1 literature search and contains instructions for each field, which are required, except for the last field: XVIII, Sponsor(s). Sponsor(s) are district or division administrators or higher and are over the area(s) that are impacted by the research and will implement the results of the research. Sponsor(s) agree the issue should be investigated and agree to ensure implementation of research results, as appropriate. The sponsor field is not required to be completed when the Stage 2 form is submitted. If an external submittal does not include a sponsor, research staff will attempt to identify one. If a sponsor is not identified by the submitter or research staff, the idea does not move forward and the submitter is notified. The Stage 2: Research Topic Statement Form is due by April 30th of each year and can be submitted via the Stage 2: Research Topic Statement Form. Research staff will send an email acknowledgement once received. If you do not receive an email acknowledgement, please contact .
The importance of this form cannot be overstated. This form, along with a champion presentation to the MDT Research Review Committee, in May of each year, will be used to rank the priority of research topics based on the above criteria and determine which projects will move forward to the technical panel stage and which will not move forward.
Research Topic Statements become the property of MDT and no entity is guaranteed to receive research contracts for their topic statements. However, if a public entity submits a research topic statement, the technical panel, if the project moves forward to the technical panel stage, will consider recommending the funding for that public entity first.