Engineering at Nebraska, Spring 2007
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front and center:
UNL to House Nebraska Transportation Center:

Laurence Rilet
Laurence Rilet
Photo: Tim Randal

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln announced Feb. 19 the establishment of a new state transportation center to better coordinate and fund transportation research.

The Nebraska Transportation Center connects UNL’s existing transportation research programs into one umbrella organization that promises to expand and provide better service to the state.

Laurence Rilett, director of the Mid-America Transportation Center, will also serve as the NTC director. Rilett is a distinguished professor of civil engineering and the inaugural holder of the Keith W. Klaasmeyer Chair in Engineering and Technology at UNL.

The NTC will develop partnerships with state and local governments and Nebraska businesses to foster growth in transportation research. Strengthening academic degree programs and developing new transportation technologies are the center’s other primary goals. The center will initially be housed in Nebraska Hall on the Lincoln campus. The university plans to find a permanent home in the near future.

The NTC will consist of various transportation programs including the Mid-America Transportation Center, the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility and other engineering programs at UNL, as well as structural and safety engineering, transportation systems engineering and technology transfer. NTC will also work with public administration and finance offered at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; safety education programs created at the University of Nebraska at Kearney; and health programs developed at the medical center.

Tackling the increasingly complex problems facing the state’s transportation system means research teams have to be multi-disciplinary in nature.

“In my opinion, the greatest benefit of the NTC is that it will allow transportation researchers from across the University of Nebraska system to more readily collaborate by bringing significant faculty and student resources into a single entity,” Rilett said. “As such, we will be able to attract top quality faculty and students to the University of Nebraska because of the culture of excellence in transportation that we are developing. I have no doubt that NTC will be a significant benefit to the university and the state of Nebraska.”

A number of people were instrumental in the creation of the NTC including Dean David Allen; Dean Sicking, director of the Midwest Roadside Facility and professor of civil engineering; and Prem Paul, UNL’s vice chancellor for research. The Nebraska Department of Roads is providing transportation research funding and some of the initial seed funding for the NTC.

“The NTC will help us address challenges that are unique to our region, and we are confident this partnership will ultimately make our transportation system more efficient and safer,” said John Craig, director of the Nebraska Department of Roads.