Five Students Win National Eisenhower Award

Five students standing in line
From left to right: Jacob DeLone, Ryan Bickhaus, Ricardo Jacome, Michael Sweigard, and Kellon Ronspies.

In Fall 2019 five graduate students, each conducting research at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF), were awarded a Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship. The award is merit based with 150-200 winner annually, making five from the same university a significant acknowledgement.

Applicants, enrolled in any accredited U.S. Institution of higher education, must be pursuing a degree in a full-time program in a transportation-related discipline and have at least one full year remaining in their studies. Winners are selected through a competitive process including a national selection panel and university panels.

MwRSF sponsors many transportation projects headed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) graduate students. These five students are part of projects dealing with guardrails, bridge rails, and test vehicles. Under advisor Dr. John Reid, Ryan Bickhaus is developing guidelines for flaring approach to guardrail transitions away from the traveled roadway. Michael Sweigard is working on the Development of a V2I Guidance System with advisor Dr. Cody Stolle, and Kellon Ronspies is working with Dr. Stolle on MASH Test Vehicle Selection. The prize will go towards the students' individual projects.

Throughout their time at UNL, the grad students have been developing specificity and interests towards their future careers. Jacob DeLone, currently working on the development of a MASH TL-4 open concrete bridge rail at MwRSF, plans to work as a bridge engineer upon graduation on either highway or railway bridges, utilizing his specialization in structural engineering design and analysis. Ricardo Jacome has spent much of his career graduate career developing a V2I guidance system and would like to continue to work at a research institute upon graduation, possibly with the Department of Transportation or other federal agencies.

The students detailed why they chose UNL, saying the professors and opportunity to work and research at MwRSF were major factors. Jacob says, “I knew that at the graduate level these professors’ teaching styles would ensure I develop into a talented and well-rounded engineer, and I would say it definitely has.” The students credit MwRSF researchers and advisors Jennifer Rasmussen (Schmidt), John Reid, and Cody Stolle for the opportunities and guidance generously offered that will lead to their bright careers in transportation.

The five students are currently pursuing Master's degrees. Jacob is pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering, while Ryan, Ricardo, Michael, and Kellon are pursuing Master's in Mechanical Engineering. Ryan and Ricardo are also past Eisenhower winners, and all the students attended the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in January 2020 to network and learn from professionals in the industry.

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