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Mid-America Transportation Center

MATC honors UNL Student Scott Sorensen as MATC Master’s Student of the Year

Scott Sorensen - UNL MS

For 23-year-old Scott Sorensen, childhood fascinations with building objects and road trips probably seemed irrelevant to his future career choices. And yet today Sorensen is pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in intelligent transportation systems at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “I like engineering because it gives me a chance to solve problems all the time, and it’s fun to help people,” Sorensen said. Sorensen also listed his love for people as another reason he chose his career path, stating that it was a logical choice. “I get a lot of energy from people. I love being happy, and people make me happy,” he said.

After working as an intern for the Mid-America Transportation Center, Sorensen said the experience inspired him to pursue graduate school and realize his desire to work in the field of transportation engineering.

As a MATC intern, he collected field data for a Nebraska Department of Roads project investigating the possible safety risks of broken-back curves and also modeled single and dual-lane roundabouts using infrastructure software. His roundabouts models were also included the current Nebraska Driver’s Manual . As graduate student, his research has focused on modeling and optimization of freight networks as research assistant for MATC. His adviser and MATC Director Laurence Rilett, Ph.D., said he has relied on Sorensen’s “ability to execute projects with competence and efficiency,“ which he referenced Sorensen’s work on a geometric design project.

He currently also holds a 3.89 GPA, which ranks him in the top 5 percent of his class in UNL’s College of Engineering. Sorensen is also pursuing his master’s in community and regional planning in connection with his degree in transportation engineering. He decided to pursue the two after his experiences abroad, where he said he fell in love with public transportation. He said he thought the two degrees would complement each other.

Sorensen has studied abroad in three different countries, including Italy, Egypt and most recently Poland with the National Science Foundation International Research Experience program. Rilett said he was impressed by the academic and leadership qualities that Sorensen demonstrated while on the trip in Poland. “Just to experience other places and other cultures was really cool. I definitely now have the travel bug. I just look forward to the next trip I can take,” Sorensen said. Sorensen said he was pleased with his decision to continue his education at UNL and grateful for all the experience he has had with MATC.

“I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve done in college one bit. I would go back and do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could,” Sorensen said. “I’ve loved every minute here at UNL.” Sorensen also serves as a mentor in NTC’s transportation engineering after-school program . This April, he plans to serve on the Transportation Research Board Public Transportation Marketing and Fare Policy Committee. He expects to graduate spring 2013 and to work as both a professional engineer and certified planner.