Riley Ruskamp Chosen for 2021 MATC Student of the Year CUTC Award

The annual January Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference in Washington DC takes a night to honor exemplary students from University Transportation Centers (UTC) across the nation. Awards are given at the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) virtual student banquet in which awarded students compile a short video to talk about their area of study or research and future plans.

UTC Outstanding Student of the Year awards are given to candidates based on accomplishments in technical merit and research capability, academic performance, and leadership. Riley Ruskamp was chosen by the MATC selection committee after nomination from his supervisors at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF).

As a student leader at MwRSF, Ruskamp documents crash tests, trains new graduate students, presents research results to state Department of Transportation sponsors of the Midwest Pooled Fund Program, and participates in MwRSF’s outreach efforts by showcasing engineering to disadvantaged youth. “His quiet, humble, yet capable and poignantly thoughtful personality compliments his kindness, compassion, and charisma,” Dr. Cody Stolle, researcher at MwRSF says of Ruskamp. Ruskamp was the top student in Dr. Stolle’s class and sets an example for all student researchers by independently learning and growing as a researcher while leading projects that support the MATC UTC objective of increasing road safety.

Ruskamp’s Master’s advisor Dr. Mojdeh Asadollahi Pajouh nominated Riley after witnessing his leadership on his MATC sponsored Master’s Thesis project. The project aimed to provide state DOTs and transportation communities a high-performance, crashworthy, portable concrete barrier while resolving critical issues with current barriers. The project evaluated new designs of roadside portable barriers to limit deflection while reducing vehicle instability, occupant risk, and exposure to critical outcomes, which was foundational to advancing a next-generation barrier design optimized for safety, economics, and sustainability. Dr. Pajouh describes Ruskamp as “a sharp and talented student with great dedication and work ethic.”

For the TRB conference, Ruskamp prepared a research manuscript titled “Development, Crash Testing, and Evaluation of Portable Concrete Barriers Gap-Spanning Hardware”. The publication also included a presentation touching on the Portable Concrete Barrier (PCB) research. In his video at the awards banquet, Ruskamp briefly shared what he does at MwRSF and thanked Dr. Stolle and Dr. Pajouh for their leadership and nomination.

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