NTC researchers discuss train monitoring research conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
January 13-17, 2019
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. from January 13 – 17, 2019. NTC sent 12 students and a number of faculty members to the conference to learn and present their research. Students learned from presentations detailing 3D printing, innovative material testing, and modeling methods for sustainable infrastructure. The exhibit hall presented hands-on experiences for attendees including a driving simulator and autonomous bus demonstration. MATC took advantage of the well-attended conference by hosting a dinner for affiliates from partner research institutions. The vast conference topics allowed for new discoveries students could bring back to their own research, keeping them connected with transportation innovations.
Ricardo Jacome was awarded the SAE Heinz C. Prechter Automotive Excellence Scholarship and the Engineering Recruitment Fellowship. The SAE Heinz C. Prechter scholarship, in particular, is a highly-competitive award that provides young entrepreneurs with $10,000 to fund a creative project to positively impact the automotive industry. Ricardo is a graduate research assistant at the Nebraska Transportation Center’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, where he assists his advisor Dr. Cody Stolle with developing a virtual roadside barrier to improve current warning systems for vehicles leaving the lane or roadway. Ricardo will complete a master’s degree in mechanical engineering next May and looks forward to pursuing a career in the areas of vehicle transportation, dynamics, or controls.
October 10-12, 2018
MATC hosted the 2018 Scholars Program for Native American undergraduates. This year’s program was developed to encourage and assist students to transition from attending two-year tribal and community colleges to four-year degree-granting universities. Native professionals and students from UNL, University of South Dakota, University of Montana, Indianz.com, Vision Maker Media, Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, and University of Nebraska Inter-Tribal Exchange shared their success stories with the students and provided practical advice on how to succeed in a 4-year program and build connections on campus. The participants also visited the Nebraska State Capitol, Chief Standing Bear statue, and Memorial Stadium. MATC’s mission with this annual program is to provide targeted seminars to improve the performance, recruitment, and retention of underrepresented students in STEM and transportation-related fields. This program would not be possible without the generous support of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Union Pacific.
September 22-27, 2018
Mohammed Ebrahim Mohammadi and Ernest Tufuor, NTC graduate research assistants, presented papers at the 60th annual International Highway Engineering Exchange Program (IHEEP) in Lincoln, Nebraska. The event brings together a diverse group of innovators from engineering consulting firms, the technology industry, and all levels of government to network and exchange information for influencing change. Ebrahim received first place for his paper on developing an algorithm for bridge damage detection that is easy, rapid, and applicable for routine and post-disaster assessments. Ebrahim’s paper was completed with Dr. Richard Wood, UNL Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering. Ernest was awarded third place on his paper with advisor and NTC director Dr. Laurence Rilett, which demonstrates a viable methodology for analyzing road safety management and assists with identifying potential emergency medical service locations in underserved areas. Both students gave presentations on their papers during the program.
September 16 - 20, 2018
NTC director Dr. Laurence Rilett was invited to Krynica Zdrój, Poland to present at the 64th Scientific Conference of the Committee of Civil and Water Engineering of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the PZITB Science Committee. Dr. Rilett spoke about the center’s railway-related safety research and explored partnership opportunities with various academic institutions in Poland. Also in attendance were former UNL graduate students Drs. Anna and Przemek Rakoczy, who are currently Principal Investigators for the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo Colorado, and former UNL/NTC faculty member Dr. Andrzej Nowak, who is a Professor at Auburn University.
September 15 - 17, 2018
Eight graduate students, one undergraduate, and one postdoctoral research assistant chaperone from NTC traveled to Chicago to attend the AREMA 2018 conference. The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-way Association events took place the 16 and 17th, but the students received a unique experience of a Union Pacific sponsored field day at one of their sites on the 15th. AREMA's website tells of the conference's ability to provide "an excellent opportunity for members of the railway industry to increase their railroad knowledge, technical expertise, network and a forum for exchanging ideas." Students attending had access to many events, including a multitude of technical sessions for the students to learn from railway professionals. Some of our students participated in a Quiz Bowl that involved questions and answers from various railway industry resources, and two students participated in a poster competition that NTC graduate student Hossein Bahmyari won. A beneficial segment, "Meet the Next Generation", provided prospective employees and students the opportunity to learn about the railway industry as company representatives established relations with potential employees. Students can already look forward to next year's conference September 22-25, 2019 where more learning and networking opportunities await.
July 16 - 26, 2018
This summer, MATC’s Roads, Rails, and Race Cars (RRRC) program teamed up with Eureka!, offered by Girls Inc., to spark middle school girls’ interest in STEM subjects. MATC and Girls Inc. share a common goal to help underrepresented students see that STEM is a part of their everyday lives and that a STEM career is attainable. Gabriel Bruguier, MATC Education and Outreach Coordinator, and Sydney James, UNL undergrad and RRRC mentor, led the group of eighth grade girls in activities such as creating electrical circuits in a lesson about train signals, assembling ovens that use solar energy to cook s’mores and nachos, and conducting strength tests on hand-made bridges and towers to learn about civil engineering. These lessons are part of the RRRC after-school program’s core curriculum, which will be kicking off this fall at several locations in Lincoln as well as Macy and Winnebago, NE.
May 11 - August 10, 2018
In its 23rd year, MATC’s Intern Program is among its largest and most diverse. More than double last year’s number, 16 individuals paired up with leading area transportation organizations, both private and public, such as Alfred Benesch and the Nebraska Department of Transportation. The program began on May 11 at an orientation meeting where Emily Wilber from UNL Career Services spoke about how to make the most of an internship. MATC Director Dr. Laurence Rilett welcomed the new interns, and MATC Research Coordinator Amber Hadenfeldt gave an overview of the program. Over the summer, the interns participated in a variety of important projects that help improve traffic flow or use computer software to re-envision and redesign the layout and components of Midwest transportation. Towards the end of the summer, the interns took a field trip to Omaha to visit Union Pacific, Schemmer Associates, the City of Omaha, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) to get a better taste of both the public and private sectors of engineering. To complete the program, the interns submitted written reports and gave presentations detailing their internship experiences during the closing luncheon on Friday, August 10.
June 24 - 29, 2018
Eighteen high school students participated in MATC and Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA)’s Native Youth Summer Academy this summer, lasting June 24-29. The program consisted of numerous activities and visits to locations exploring careers and studies in the STEM field. They were welcomed on Sunday afternoon at Union College and had a full schedule of activities until leaving Friday afternoon. Days consisted of traveling to various locations in Lincoln and Omaha including Nebraska Innovation Studio, Encompass Architects, Nebraska History Museum, Great Plains Art Museum, and Duncan Aviation. The students worked on remote control boats with Dr. Chris Cornelius, had lunch with the First Lady of Nebraska, and enjoyed helicopter rides with Senator Tom Brewer. On Thursday night they dressed up to attend a formal dinner with multiple guests and a presentation from the keynote speaker, Dr. Cornelius. Many students plan on returning next year for more opportunities and fun.
June 5, 2018
NASCAR drivers Michael Annett and Dalton Sargeant visited NTC’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) Tuesday, June 5 to learn about the barriers keeping their tracks safe. Their morning consisted of touring the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier and Motorsports Exhibits at the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed, followed by a tour and crash test viewing at MwRSF’s Outdoor Proving Grounds. The SAFER Barrier began development in 1998 and by 2005 nearly every track on the IndyCar and NASCAR circuits installed the device. The drivers will be participating in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa 200 and NASCAR Xfinity Series 250 presented by Enogen on June 16-17 at Iowa Speedway, the first and only NASCAR track with the SAFER Barrier being its sole retaining wall. For more information about the crash test, visit: https://engineering.unl.edu/mwrsf-crash-test/.
The Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) developed a non-proprietary barrier to limit the impact of threat vehicles in Entrance Control Facilities (ECFs) as well as provide safe stops for low-speed, non-hostile vehicles. As the first federally-accepted, non-proprietary barrier system in the Department of Defense (DOD) Approved Barrier List it is less expensive to purchase and install than other systems. The barrier has been in development for two years with the completion of full-scale and component testing in December 2017. Although the barrier was developed for military bases, it has potential to be implemented in urban areas and the publication of collected data could help in future research.
April 24, 2018
The Nebraska Transportation Center is congratulating Civil Engineering Ph.D. student Ernest Tufuor for his reception of the ITS Heartland Award. He received the award at the organization’s meeting for his paper on the usage of a Bluetooth-plus-Wi-Fi device for travel time research. The device developed by the Nebraska Transportation Center, referred to as generic Bluetooth (gBT) was compared with a GPS-probe vehicle to determine its data reliability. The study resulted in Bluetooth travel times comparable to that of the Global Positioning System while saving costs and improving modularity and ease of use. Mr. Tufuor acknowledges the success of this project to the innovative and creative ideas of his advisor, Dr. Laurence Rilett.
Tiffany Treviño is the 2017 recipient of the MATC Outstanding Student of the Year award. Ms. Treviño is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), where she conducts research on traffic calming devices, speed tables, roadway curves, and vehicle dynamics. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Ms. Treviño participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates 2015 and 2016 summer program, sponsored by the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety. During this time, she studied finite element analysis, learned new software, and analyzed 1/8 symmetric rail car tank models at NTC. Currently, Ms. Treviño is a Graduate Research Assistant at NTC’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF). Her thesis research investigates the optimal placement of speed tables on roadway curves in order to disrupt or delay threat vehicles without the occupants of non-threat vehicles experiencing excessive discomfort. According to her advisor Dr. Cody Stolle, MwRSF Research Assistant Professor, “Tiffany is an exceptional worker,” who “demonstrates a firm grasp on critical material, integrates new knowledge quickly, completes challenging tasks in a timely manner, and maintains a positive, optimistic, and encouraging attitude.” After completing a Master of Science degree in December 2018, Ms. Treviño plans to begin a career as an engineering professional in the public or private sector.
Jianan Zhou has been selected as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2018 International Road Federation (IRF) Fellow. Jianan is a graduate research assistant at the Nebraska Transportation Center and in the fourth year of his civil engineering Ph.D. program. His research focus includes highway capacity, traffic simulation, and transportation statistics. During the IRF Scholar Program, held January 7-12 in D.C., Jianan will participate in the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, IRF committee meetings, bridge building competitions, and visit the World Bank and Federal Highway Administration. Jianan’s fellowship is sponsored by Lindsay Transportation Solutions, a Nebraska-based company who delivers international expertise and products to improve road maintenance and safety.
September 27 - 30, 2017
Fifty students, faculty, and distinguished guest speakers participated in the fifth iteration of the Mid-America Transportation Center Scholars Program. The goal of the Scholars Program is to promote graduate study among underrepresented groups in the STEM fields. Faculty who lead the core sessions and students come from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions, including Prairie View A&M University, Southern University and A&M College, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Tennessee State University, New Mexico State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and Lincoln University. The curriculum focuses on reasons for pursuing advanced degrees, identifying and selecting a graduate program, budgeting and financing, choosing mentors, and effective communication skills. Guest speakers outline expectations and provide encouragement by sharing their graduate school and professional experiences. The 2017 sessions were held on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, providing students with the opportunity to experience a Big 10 research institution.
September 26 - 27, 2017
NTC graduate student Ahmed Rageh recently had the opportunity to attend and present at the 11th University Transportation Centers Spotlight Conference: Rebuilding and Retrofitting the Transportation Infrastructure in Washington, DC. Ahmed gave a poster presentation titled, “Health Monitoring Schemes for Double-Track Steel Railway Bridges” with Dr. Daniel Linzell, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering Department Chair and Professor. Ahmed is a third-year civil engineering graduate student focused on the structural health monitoring of steel railway bridges. Ahmed attended several sessions during the conference and enjoyed learning about new smart methods and tools for assessing the conditions of roadway bridges. The leading experts in attendance helped him developed a new research goal—predicting structure deficiencies before they occur. His current research involves remotely monitoring and identifying conditions of a Union Pacific double track steel railway truss bridge located in Columbus, Nebraska.
The Mid-America Transportation Center’s after-school program was implemented at two new sites this fall. In support of MATC’s mission to promote STEM careers among underrepresented groups, the Roads, Rails, and Race Cars (RRRC) club was expanded to reach Native American students at UmoNhoN Nation Public Schools and Winnebago Public School. Plans to expand the program to Macy and Winnebago, Nebraska, were developed following the success of the MATC/NCIA Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy last July. After participating in the academy, Michele Barcelona, a special education teacher at UmoNhoN, and Samantha Loutsch, a science teacher at Winnebago, were approached by MATC Education and Outreach Coordinator Gabriel Bruguier to pilot the after-school program in their classrooms. RRRC participants at Macy and Winnebago have since been busy building bridges, towers, gliders, boats, and race cars out of various materials while learning about the science behind these structures. In November, the students were visited by Dr. Christopher Cornelius, UNL Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and MATC Education and Diversity Coordinator. Dr. Cornelius spoke to the students about his experience as a Native American in higher education and lead a lesson on energy. MATC plans to continue growing the after-school program in the coming academic year to reach additional Native American students and schools.
August 21, 2017
NTC’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory captured the 2017 Solar Eclipse while monitoring Lincoln’s roadways.
July 16 - 21, 2017
MATC recently partnered with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs to build the 2017 MATC/NCIA Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy. The academy lasted from July 16-21, and took place mostly at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where students were able to become familiar with the campus layout and opportunities. A central objective of the academy was to help Native American youth engage their potential in leadership in STEM and transportation fields. The group of 11 native students in attendance learned from professors and professionals in STEM fields, while also visiting institutions such as the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Union Pacific, and BNSF railway to learn about potential career opportunities. On Thursday, the students were challenged to utilize critical thinking and teamwork skills to build trailers that could float in water while carrying weight. Simultaneously, the academy emphasized Native American culture and history by including an excursion to the Standing Bear trail, as well as a native experiences panel. During the six day long academy, three teachers, three mentors, and six administrative leaders including Judi gaiashkibos, Larry Rilett, Gabriel Bruguier, Chris Cornelius, Rebekka Herrera-Schlichting, and Scott Shafer interacted with the students and shared their own experiences of getting into leadership in their native communities or the STEM field.
May 25 - August 11, 2017
The Nebraska Transportation Center is hosting Santos Ramos this summer as part of the Mid-America Transportation Center Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Santos is a senior civil engineering student from the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) interested in transportation systems modeling and traffic analysis. As a MATC Summer REU Scholar, he will conduct research for eleven weeks under the guidance of NTC Director Dr. Laurence Rilett, Ph.D. student Ernest Tufuor, and Research Engineer Gabriela Perales. The MATC Summer REU program is a unique opportunity for Santos to gain research experience in the transportation field while becoming familiar with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus and facilities, where he hopes to return after graduation to continue his education in the master’s program. The REU program at Nebraska is an extension of MATC’s Summer Internship Program, and sponsored by the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety.
May 15, 2017
MATC was pleased to welcome participants to the 2017 internship program during the orientation on May 15. The students selected for MATC’s Intern Program will gain professional experience in the transportation field under the mentorship of industry or university sponsors. The orientation was an opportunity for the interns to meet one another and receive advice on having a successful internship. Dr. John Sangster, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, provided individual feedback on students’ resumes and their next steps in higher education or the profession based on their career interests and goals. University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student Sean Murphy shared his experience as a former MATC intern and encouraged the interns to ask their employers questions and emphasized the value of networking. At the close of the program, students will reflect on their internship experience in a written report and oral presentation given during the awards banquet on August 14.
NTC student Ernest Tufuor received one of three Commendation Awards from the College of Engineering Graduate Poster Competition at the 2017 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Spring Research Fair. Ernest, a PhD student in civil engineering, designed his poster presentation for a research project entitled, “In-Vehicle Evaluation of Milled Rumble Strips at Pre- and Post-Chip Sealed Maintenance Periods.” His experiment investigated the relationship between the depth of milled rumble strips and the noise and vibration in a vehicle cab. The research project was completed in collaboration with Dr. Laurence Rilett, NTC Director and Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, and Christopher LeFrois, NTC ITS Sr. Transportation Technology Engineer. Ernest received his award during the annual Engineering Graduate Student Recognition Event on April 28.
March 20, 2017
Dr. Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her team of faculty recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of more than $300,000 to fund the expansion of their summer research program. The project titled, "REU Site: Sustainability of Horizontal Civil Networks in Rural Areas" focuses upon engaging students from outside the university to participate in research about creating sustainable infrastructure in rural areas. Though the project has already completed a successful two-year pilot period, this grant will enable the program to expand to ten students per program for the next three years. During the ten-week session, students will conduct research under the supervision of a faculty mentor, while also participating in professional development seminars and workshops. Other faculty members involved in the project include Drs. Yong-Rak Kim, Joshua Steelman, Yusong Li, Xu Li, Daniel Linzell, John Sangster, and Elizabeth Jones.
March 10, 2017
Kyle Schneweis, Director of the Nebraska Department of Roads, and members of his team visited the Prem S. Paul Research Center at Whittier School for a meeting with Nebraska Transportation Center and Midwest Roadside Safety Facility faculty and staff. The event began with tours of NTC's Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory and MwRSF's Small-Scale Structures & Visualization Laboratories. Drs. Dan Linzell (Structures), Hamid Sharif-Kashani (Computer/Electrical), Ron Faller (Roadside Safety), Eric Thompson (Economics), Shannon Bartelt-Hunt (Environmental/Water Resources), Laurence Rilett (Transportation), and Yong Rak Kim (Geotechnical/Materials) presented on their current research, department facilities, and potential projects. Attendees had the opportunity to become further acquainted and discuss opportunities for collaboration between NDOR and NTC during the luncheon that followed.