The University of Nebraska hosted a virtual ceremony on May 5th to present the President’s Excellence Awards ORCA, OTICA, and IDEA to six faculty members across the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney, and the Medical Center. MATC and NTC Director, Distinguished Professor, and Keith W. Klaasmeyer Chair Dr. Laurence Rilett was presented the IDEA, standing for Innovation, Development, and Engagement Award, designed to recognize faculty who share their academic expertise with the broader community through diverse outreach.
The ceremony gave an overview of the programs Dr. Rilett has developed and encouraged as the director of the Mid-America Transportation Center. The ceremony included a short video on Dr. Rilett’s accomplishments, mentioning the outreach projects Roads, Rails, and Race Cars after school program, STEM Summer Academy, and MATC Scholars Program. These programs represent the effort to bring STEM knowledge and encouragement to middle school, high school, and college students in diverse groups where “his impact on students and in the community helps develop leaders of the future.”
During the virtual ceremony, Dr. Rilett spoke of his gratitude for receiving the award, saying “it represents some of the most rewarding activities that I’ve done in my career.” Dr. Rilett acknowledged the support of a number of key people including Judy gaiashkibos, Executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, Dr. Judy Perkins from Prairie View A&M University, Dr. Erick Jones from the University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Stephanie Adams from the University of Texas at Dallas, Dr. Luis Vázquez from New Mexico State University, Dr. Chris Cornelius from Iowa State University, and Dr. Michael Oltrogge, President of Nebraska Indian Community College. Dr. Rilett also acknowledged the NTC and MATC staff for their dedicated work. He identified over 200 people that have participated in these programs and because of time limitations could not name them all.
The programs are made possible through the financial support of sponsors, namely the US Department of Transportation, Nebraska Department of Transportation, The Claire Hubbard Foundation, State Farm, and Union Pacific.
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