MATC Thanks Dr. Laurence Rilett for 17 Years as Director

Dr. Aemal Khattak
Dr. Laurence Rilett
Dr. Aemal Khattak
Dr. Aemal Khattak

MATC Thanks Dr. Laurence Rilett for 17 Years as Director, and Welcomes Dr. Aemal Khattak as MATC Director and NTC Interim Director

Spring 2021 was the last semester MATC would be led by Dr. Laurence Rilett. He has served as the director since 2004 and is responsible for its success in gaining University Transportation Centers (UTC) funding and spearheading the many educational outreach programs. In the spring he received the 2021 Frank M. Masters Transportation Engineering Award for “contributions to innovative research on transportation systems and collaborative leadership to develop a diverse workforce in transportation engineering.” His new position marks him as leader of the recently established Auburn University Transportation Research Institute within the College of Engineering.

Under Dr. Rilett’s directorship, MATC was designated as the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Region VII University Transportation Center in 2006, 2011, and 2016. He is responsible for developing the Roads Rails and Race Cars after-school program for middle-school students, a week-long STEM summer academy for Native American high school students, and the Scholars programs designed for students in historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges and universities to advance their education to a higher degree. Rilett’s research focuses on transportation system analysis, mainly divided into Intelligent Transportation Systems applications and large-scale transportation system modeling.

At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Rilett left MATC in the capable hands of Dr. Aemal Khattak to serve as the interim director. Khattak is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and has been part of UNL faculty for 21 years, also serving as MATC Assistant Director. His expertise is in transportation safety engineering and he has extensive leadership experience as the head of multiple research projects that have taken place during his time here. Now Dr. Khattak has been officially appointed as the Director of MATC, and remains the interim director of NTC.

Dr. Khattak’s research interests specialize in Transportation Safety, Transportation Infrastructure Planning, and Intelligent Transportation Systems. He has been part of the Transportation Research Board as an Inaugural Editorial Board Member since 2020 and was a past chair of the Transportation Research Board Standing Committee on Highway/Rail Grade Crossings. Dr. Khattak earned his Bachelor of Science with honors in Civil Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar, Pakistan, his Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD in Transportation Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. In 2015 he received the UNL University-Wide Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2016 he received the UNL College of Engineering Faculty Service Award.

Since acquiring Interim Director and Director status, Dr. Khattak has become involved with MATC’s outreach programs, such as planning of the Tribal Colleges and Universities Scholars Program to take place in the Spring semester. He has also organized a series of webinars for his students and engineering professionals at UNL, hosting NTC Post-Doctoral researcher Dr. Ernest Tufuor, a research scientist at the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center Dr. Shanshan Zhao, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville Professor Dr. Asad Khattak.

As Dr. Aemal Khattak continues his Directorship, he will work closely with the NTC Director, a position that is currently available and will be responsible for the administration and leadership of NTC operations.

Share your News with MATC!

If you are a student, faculty member, or other affiliate of the Mid-America Transportation Center, we are eager to share your news of your work and accomplishments.

Send your information to Madison Schmidt at and it could appear in MATC's website, newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter.