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Mid-America Transportation Center



December 2018

MATC’s 2018 Scholars Program is featured in Nebraska Indian Community College’s newsletter. View newsletter.


October 26, 2018

MATC was invited to the October Nebraska Commission on Indian Affair (NCIA)’s quarterly meeting to provide an update on the center’s recent educational outreach programs for Native American students. NCIA partners with the center to host the Sovereign Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy, and NCIA provides guidance on MATC’s Scholars Program for Native American undergraduates and Roads, Rails, and Race Cars after-school program for 4th-12th grade Native American students at UmoNhoN Nation Public School and Winnebago Public School. MATC director Dr. Laurence Rilett’s overview of the programs and recent enrollment numbers was positively received by the Commissioners. Dr. Rilett and Gabriel Bruguier, MATC Education & Outreach Coordinator and NCIA Commissioner, sought feedback from the group on how the center can continue being responsive to the current needs of Native American communities in Nebraska.


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,, 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.


October 2018

MATC’s educational outreach programs for underrepresented groups are featured in USDOT’s UTC Spotlight newsletter. View newsletter.


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.

MATC hosts 2018 Native Youth Summer Academy

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.

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.

RRRC After School

October 2017

The Roads, Rails, and Race Cars after-school program is featured on the front page of NSTA’s newspaper Reports. View full story.

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.