The Nebraska Safety Center at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) has been touring college transportation centers in hopes of expanding their capabilities when they move their location on the UNK campus.
During their visit at MATC, center personnel from the administration office and Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) gave presentations and tours over the center’s capabilities, research, and outreach. MATC Director Dr. Aemal Khattak gave an overview of the center’s history and explained the regionalization and funding distribution for University Transportation centers from the US Department of Transportation. Each federal grant lasts approximately five years and has a different research focus. The current period emphasizes transportation safety. Previous and ongoing MATC research has been conducted studying safety at bridges, rail crossings, highways, and more.
Outreach Coordinator Dr. Gabriel Bruguier gave an overview of the various outreach programs MATC offers including the Roads, Rails, and Race Cars after-school program, the Summer Native Youth STEM Leadership Academy, the Tribal Colleges and Universities Scholars Program, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholars Program. These programs all serve the purpose to provide STEM leadership to underrepresented groups of students from kindergarten to post-secondary and encourage students to further their education. Program Coordinator Janet Renoe gave an overview of the MATC Internship Program for undergraduate engineering students. The program connects students with summer internship opportunities in their field and gives them resources to make the most of their experience.
Dr. Karla Lechtenberg gave a presentation on the MATC umbrella organization, the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF). She provided insight into the capabilities of MwRSF given their Visualization and Simulation Lab and their Materials Testing Lab, both of which are available for use outside MwRSF personnel. Current MwRSF research is focused on heavy trucks and work zone safety.
Multiple research projects are conducted each year by professors and students under MATC. Dr. Ernest Tufuor gave a presentation titled “The Sweet Sound of Safety” on his research project testing rumble strips and their effectiveness after road construction. He explained how research benefiting state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) by having a practical application and financial benefits is ideal to get support from the state DOT.
Larissa Sazama gave the visitors a tour of MATC’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) lab and its capabilities for presentations and viewing live traffic footage. She also explained the capabilities of the ITS van and trailer, which have many functions for monitoring traffic and conducting research outside the lab.
The UNK Safety Center was established by Nebraska legislation in 1978. Their website explains “we exist to conserve human and economic resources through safety education and accident prevention.” Their vision is to provide universal safety education to enhance the Nebraska quality of life. Visitors from the center included Finance Director Darla Morris and External Relations and Marketing Director Erin Howard. Also visiting was Dean of the College of Business and Technology Dr. Tim Jares. They shared their center’s current functions, including the driving range that simulates different types of roadways and intersections, and their hopes for the future of their center and possible collaborations. More information on the center can be found at their website.
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