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Mid-America Transportation Center

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Students at AISES Dinner

February 19, 2018

Members of MATC, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA), and the University of Nebraska Inter-Tribal Exchange (UNITE) hosted a dinner to discuss the possibility of forming an American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AISES is a national organization dedicated to increasing Native representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers. The evening began with a meet and greet as UNL Native students networked with leaders in the Native community. MATC Director Dr. Laurence Rilett welcomed attendees and introduced tribal elder Phyllis Stone, who provided the blessing for the meal. Dr. Christopher Cornelius, UNL Professor of Chemical Engineering and MATC Education and Diversity Coordinator, spoke about his experience as a Native student in higher education and the potential for creating change. Following his keynote address, Dr. Cornelius led a discussion with attendees about forming an AISES chapter. Mr. Gabriel Bruguier, MATC Education and Outreach Coordinator, shared opportunities with the students to get involved with MATC’s Native American STEM educational outreach programs, including the summer leadership academy and the after-school program in Winnebago and Macy, Nebraska. MATC is looking forward to seeing what these new partnerships will produce!

Tiffany Trevino

January 2018

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.

2017 MATC Scholra's Program

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.

RRRC Expansion Fall 2017

August 2017

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.

Sovereign Native Youth Leadership Academy

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.