March 27, 2023
For decades, volunteer participants have been the backbone of VTTI’s research, and we are greatly indebted to the thousands of individuals who have contributed to our studies. These volunteers are critical to advancements in transportation, and they are people just like you! Individuals can volunteer as little or as much as they like—even if it’s just two hours per year, your participation is still invaluable to our research.
People might think that VTTI is only interested in recruiting passenger-vehicle drivers, but we also need volunteers to be pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and truck or heavy-vehicle drivers. Participation can even mean filling out a simple survey in your home, using public transportation, or riding with friends and family! Keep in mind that we need volunteers not just in the Blacksburg, VA, area but also in various locations across the country, wherever we are conducting our research.
Participation might involve: driving a research vehicle on one of our private test tracks, driving on public roads, remaining stationary in a simulator or parked vehicle, completing surveys or participating in focus groups on-site or via Zoom from the privacy of your home, acting as a pedestrian or a passenger, and—most popular of all—taking home and driving one of our research vehicles as your own for a period of time.
We research surface transportation and mobility from every angle! To capture all points of view, we look for a range of ages, abilities, and levels of experience: teens; younger, middle-aged, and older adults; individuals with disabilities (such as the visually impaired); people for whom driving is part of their job, and those who no longer drive at all; from novice drivers to those with decades of driving and life experience!
While participation comes with modest compensation, many volunteers also report that they are happy to contribute to a process that will benefit the public at large. We asked some past volunteers to describe their experience, and this is what they had to say:
“I love the idea of being part of developing new technology.”
“It has been great. I appreciate everything being on time, organized, and sticking to a schedule. All of the research personnel are very professional and respectful of your personal boundaries and ensure you are comfortable every step of the way when participating in a research study.”
“It was a pleasant experience – staff was friendly and the study itself was interesting.”
Our participants also had the following advice for anyone who is thinking of volunteering:
“Pick a study out that interests you so you enjoy the time you spend helping… Once you’ve participated in one study, you’ll appreciate the process… and want to participate in more. The compensation is always a benefit as well.”
“DO IT! It’s fun, educational, and they work with your schedule. Plus, you get paid!”
If you are interested in volunteering for a VTTI study, we would love to add you to our private database for future opportunities; this information is never shared. Each project has a specific set of criteria; volunteers must meet the objectives of the study to be eligible. Eligibility is determined when a member of our team connects with you to go through the brief screening particular to the project. We seek participants of all ages, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and experiences. We encourage inclusion and diversity!
A 10-minute (on average) screening over the phone or a quick online survey is all we need to add you to our database. Privacy is guaranteed, and submitting your information does not obligate you to participate. Most volunteers receive only one to three calls per year to see if they are interested in volunteering for a specific research study. Volunteers may remove themselves from the list at any time.
If you or someone you know is interested, visit our website for more information and a list of our active studies. Still have questions? Please feel free to contact us via phone (540-231-1583) or email (VTTIStudy@vtti.vt.edu).