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Civil Engineering




  • APRIL The new U.S. Climate Data Initiative includes a partnership involving the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with Google, the University of Idaho and the Desert Research Institute. The partnership means a toolbox overflowing with resources for Ayse Kilic, associate professor with UNL’s Department of Civil Engineering and the School of Natural Resources, who’s eager to connect the public with the partnership’s benefits. Kilic, who produces advanced high-resolution models for water use mapping and flash flooding prediction, will use the resources to share important water information to help communities better understand how water availability is connected to climatic changes.
  • MARCH UNL-Creighton prions research involving Associate Professor Shannon Bartelt-Hunt earned media attention when the two universities advanced to the 2014 NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament.
    UNL’s Nebraska Transportation Center partners in new rail safety center

    The Nebraska Transportation Center, a Board of Regents approved center in the UNL College of Engineering, is a partner with the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and Texas A & M University (TAMU) in a $3 million U.S. Department of Transportation sponsored University Transportation Center for Railway Safety. NTC will receive approximately $900,000 as their share of the research, education and technology transfer activities. The kick-off event was in Edinburg, Tex. on Feb. 10.

    The center will conduct research on how to make railways safer for both operators and the traveling public. Each partner will focus on specific components of the railway system: UNL will focus on operations safety, UTPA will focus mechanical components, and TAMU will focus on civil infrastructure.

    Railroads are becoming an increasingly important component of the U.S. freight system” said Laurence Rilett, P.E. who will serve as UNL’s Associate Director of the Center. “This center will allow Nebraska Engineering students and faculty to engage in cutting edge research as they pertain to railway safety. The focus for the first year will be on at-grade railway crossing safety which is of particular importance to the citizens of Nebraska given that we host the largest railway freight corridor in the world.”

    One of the unique features of the UTC for Railway Safety is the educational component. Undergraduate students from UTPA will be spending the summer in the COE as part of the center’s Research Experience for Undergraduate Students program. In the summer of 2014, four undergraduate engineering students from UTPA will travel to UNL to work on various NTC railway-related research projects for a 10-week period.

    Megan Seymour was awarded an Honorable Mention in UNL’s Folsom Distinguished Master’s Thesis competition. Her work, "Transport of Engineered Nanomaterials in Porous Media: Groundwater Remediation Applications and Effects of Particle Shape,” had earned the UNL Department of Civil Engineering's 2013 Outstanding Thesis Award and was nominated for UNL recognition by her adviser, Assistant Professor Yusong Li. Seymour, who graduated in December 2012, now works as an environmental engineer with HDR in Omaha.

    Professor Libby Jones, who serves as co-adviser to the Engineers Without Borders University of Nebraska Student Chapter (EWB-NU), received EWB-USA's Peter J. Bosscher Faculty Advisor Award for Outstanding Leadership. Student chapter members praised her level of encouragement, inspiration and ability to help them navigate both at the university level and across cultures with their community partnership in Madagascar.



    University of Nebraska's Engineers Without Borders student chapter was announced as the 2013 EWB-USA Regional Premier Chapter at the Midwest Regional Conference in Lawrence, Kan. The student chapter is made up of engineering students in programs at both Lincoln and Omaha; students in other majors are also welcome. The chapter formed in 2008, making it relatively new among 225 national chapters, according to faculty co-adviser Libby Jones, associate professor of civil engineering. EWB-NU entered a five-year commitment with Kianjavato, Madagascar: a remote community in the African island nation’s interior where Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo operates a field station near a threatened ecosystem that is home to critically endangered lemurs.

    Site work began in 2010, when four students began evaluations for sustainable solar power and water filter projects with the villagers in 2010. Visits have since happened annually, with biosand water filters built and solar panels installed at local schools. READ THE UNL STORY

    Assistant Professor Anuj Sharma worked with HDR on a service activity, studying the "Economic Framework for Feature Selection in Healing Garden: Evaluation at Women's Hospital." The work won a merit award from the American Society of Landscape Architects' Great Plains Chapter.

    Professor Emeritus Istvan Bogardi was invited to participate in the Budapest Water Summit, Oct. 8-11. He describes the forum as a gathering of "a prestigious group of water scientists from all over the world." He adds that this opportunity enables him to represent and utilize his 25 years of teaching and research experience at UNL.

  • SEPTEMBER Professor Mohamed Dahab was appointed to the Nebraska Environmental Quality Council for a term lasting through June 22, 2017.

    The Environmental Quality Council (EQC) is a 17-member public body appointed by the governor to represent specific interests and adopt regulations that are then administered by the NDEQ. Members are appointed to serve staggered 4-year terms. The EQC meets quarterly and holds public hearings on proposed regulations.

    This year, a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering students will pilot a free-flying vehicle--like the radio-controlled helicopters popular as holiday gifts--not to escape their courses, but to help NASA research. Selected university teams will perform experiments on reduced gravity missions flying from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, July 26-Aug. 3, during the 2013 NASA SEED Microgravity University. UNL's 2013 assigned project, ARGOS and Microgravity Free Flyer Evaluation, will explore the ability of the Active Response Gravity Offload System to provide a microgravity environment for a free-flying vehicle. READ THE UNL MICROGRAVITY STORY / NASA REDUCED GRAVITY SITE


UNL student engineers work in pollution prevention

August, 2012
  • After a summer working with industry or seasoned agricultural producers, students in UNL’s Partners in Pollution Prevention program ended their experiences with presentations on their P3 accomplishments. Bruce Dvorak, P3 program director and professor and interim chair of UNL’s Department of Civil Engineering, was in the audience adding up the potential benefit of this year’s P3 efforts.The P3 program, which focuses on sustainability, just completed its 15th year. An outreach assistance program operated by the University of Nebraska Extension and the UNL College of Engineering, it is funded by the USEPA Region 7, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, and a wide variety of businesses and industrial partners. READ MORE.

American Road & Transportation Builders Association honors CIVE's Schurr, Mohlman

July, 2012

ARTBA's “Women Leaders in Transportation Design & Construction” event awarded two UNL civil engineers with recognition.

  • The Ethel S. Birchland Lifetime Achievement Award--named after ARTBA’s executive director from the mid-1920s--is given to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, long-term service in the industry’s public or private sectors and dedication to the advancement of innovation and other women leaders. Nebraska Engineering faculty member Karen Schurr, P.E., was applauded for her leadership and work with students: in teaching at UNL and in her prior service with the Nebraska Department of Roads.
  • The Future Industry Spotlight Award celebrates students who have achieved an outstanding academic record and demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills within and outside of the academic environment. Carrie Mohlman is pursuing a master’s of science in civil engineering at UNL with a focus on transportation. As a graduate research assistant maintaining a 4.0 grade average, she conducts research on commercial driver fatigue and compiles commodity flow surveys for counties in Nebraska. She also volunteers with the “Road, Rails and Racecars” afterschool mentoring program for middle school students, which encourages young adults to explore careers in the transportation field.

CIVE Students Receive Recognition and Fellowships

June, 2012

Several Civil Engineering undergraduate and graduate students recently received special recognition, awards and funding:

  • Amy Jewell, a senior from Omaha, was selected as a NASA Nebraska Space Fellow for a summer 2012 internship at Boeing in Seattle, Wash.
  • Johnny Chacon, a junior, was selected in May 2012 as a scholarship recipient from the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA). He received the PB Rail Engineering Scholarship from the association.
  • Carrie Mohlman, who is pursuing a master's degree in civil engineering with an emphasis on transportation engineering, received a 2012 Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Award from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bartelt-Hunt Earns NSF CAREER Award

March, 2012

Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, assistant professor of civil engineering, is shedding light on the complex interaction between prions and soil. A five-year, $413,883 Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation supports this research. Also known as a CAREER award, this is NSF's most prestigious award for outstanding pre-tenure faculty and supports their development as researchers and teacher-scholars.


Dr. Green Visits NTC During UNL's Research Fair

November 28, 2011

Dr. Johney Green visited the Nebraska Transportation Center (NTC) this past month. Green is the director of transportation science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Green and other research dignitaries were at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a part of the annual Research Fair. UNL highlights various research activities across multiple disciplines at the university each year during the fair.

Nebraska Safety Council Teaches Culler Middle School Students About Distracted Driving

November 28, 2011

The Nebraska Safety Council educated students at Culler Middle School this past Thursday about the dangers of distracted driving. Culler is one of the four LPS schools involved in NTC's after-school program "Roads, Rails and Race Cars." Mr. Tracey Webb, who is the driving safety programs director for the council, demonstrated the effects of distracted driving using its new SIDNE go-cart.

NTC's After-School Program Expands to Three Area Schools

November 28, 2011

Seventh grade science teacher Mary Herrington dreamed bringing hope to her middle school students. At Culler Middle School, where she teaches, faculty learned that most of their students lacked hope according to a Gallup poll. With the reported lack of hopelessness, Herrington wanted to bring a program to restore the hope in the classroom. Her dreams came true after she submitted a proposal to the Nebraska Transportation Center (NTC) to establish a transportation engineering club at Culler. The club, better known as "Roads, Rails and Race Cars," was added to Lincoln Public Schools Community Learning Centers program last year.

UNL Graduate Student Contributes to Innovative Transportation Research

November 28, 2011

Meet first-year University of Nebraska-Lincoln doctoral student Sunil Gyawali. Gyawali hails from Nepal, but completed his master's degree at North Dakota State University. He is now working with Assistant Professor Anuj Sharma on a Mid-America Transportation Center (MATC) research project evaluating driver behavior in stressful driving conditions. Some may say it's a chance of a lifetime. Some may say he's lucky. Either way, first-year doctoral University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Sunil Gyawali gets to add his participation an innovative transportation research project to his resume.

Transportation Research Meets Psychology at NTC

November 28, 2011

It is not too often that the worlds of transportation engineering and psychology collide, but that is what is happening at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nebraska Transportation Center (NTC). Assistant Professor Anuj Sharma, Ph.D., and his team researchers are studying the effects of various traffic conditions on driver behavior. They are looking for indications of changes in the drivers’ stress levels such as when the traffic light is about to change.

Micozzi Pays a Visit to NTC

November 23, 2011

The Nebraska Transportation Center (NTC) had the opportunity of hosting Ms. Martine Micozzi. She is a Senior Program Officer of Transportation Research Board. Ms. Micozzi came to learn more about the current research projects and educational initiatives of NTC and the Mid-America Transportation Center (MATC) earlier this fall. NTC Director Dr. Laurence Rilett gave Micozzi an overview NTC’s and MATC’s focuses for the upcoming year. He highlighted initiatives such as increasing multi-disciplinary research efforts and student research activities.

Summer Institute Brings Engineering Education to K-12 Teachers and Students

June 28, 2011

NTC Director Dr. Larry Rilett teamed up with Dr. Gina Kunz and Dr. Gwen Nugent of the Nebraska Center for Research on Youth, Families, and Schools (CYFS) for the sixth incarnation of the popular Professional Development Science and Math Summer Technology Institute. The summer institute is a unique opportunity for middle and high school math and science teachers to learn about transportation engineering and incorporate core math and science concepts into transportation-based lesson plans.

Roads, Rails, and Race Cars After-School Program for Junior High Students

May 19, 2011

NTC graduate students have been key in the launch of a transportation engineering-focused after-school program at Culler Middle School in Lincoln this past fall. With support from the US Department of Transportation and partnering with science teacher Mary Herrington and UNL's Center for Children, Youth, Families, and Schools, the program introduces middle school students to engineering with hands-on activities.

Dr. Cho Receives NSF CAREER Award

May 03, 2011

Dr. Yong K. Cho has received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his work developing an innovative method to build real-time virtual 3-D models of construction work sites. Dr. Cho, an assistant professor in UNL's Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, received the 5-year award in the amount of $400,000 as part of the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program. The goal of his work is to create models that enable automatic construction equipment to safely and effectively perform work zone tasks. As the construction industry deals with a shortage of skilled workers, automatic equipment is increasingly important for supplementing this lack. Still, Cho says, "the goal is not to replace people with construction robots. We want to provide precise, effective, and safe ways to help humans perform jobs that can often be very dangerous." NTC extends enthusiastic congratulations to Dr. Cho for his well-deserved recognition.

Dr. Bartelt-Hunt Awarded Funding for Environmental Research

April 14, 2011

Dr. Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, assistant professor of civil engineering, has been awarded funding for the project, "Evaluation of the Environmental Impacts of Bridge Deck Runoff" from the Nebraska Department of Roads. Bartelt-Hunt's unique proposal was chosen as a highly prioritized project for the state.

Highways and bridge surfaces are often identified as major contributors to stormwater runoff. While there is some information available on roadway runoff, few studies have focused on bridge deck runoff. There is no information available regarding the impacts of bridge deck runoff on receiving waters in Nebraska. Due to the cost, maintenance, and design issues associated with implementing structural controls for bridge deck runoff, it is important to develop a better understanding of the relationship between bridge deck runoff and potential impacts to receiving streams. This project will evaluate the quality of bridge deck runoff and determine its effect on surface water bodies in Nebraska.

Dr. Bartelt-Hunt's latest research project has potential for major impact on new bridge construction projects and retrofits. Development of design criteria for when protective measures are necessary to protect in-stream water quality and aquatic life would provide guidance in construction of new bridges or retrofits of existing bridges across the state.

Dr. Bartelt-Hunt received her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia and completed her post-doctoral training at North Carolina State University under the direction of Dr. Morton Barlaz. She has been an assistant professor at UNL since 2006. She was the recipient of the 2010 Edgerton Innovation Award, the 2010 UNL College of Engineering Multidisciplinary Research Award, and the 2011 Dean's Award for Excellence in Graduate Education. Her research interests are focused on the physicochemical fate of contaminants including pharmaceuticals, hormones and prions in soil and water systems and contaminant fate and transport in landfills.

Anuj Sharma Discusses Energy Research at Mayoral Press Conference

March 03, 2011

The City of Lincoln spends over $72,000 annually on energy to power the city's traffic signals. NTC researchers are working to change that, however, by testing a solar/wind hybrid power generator installed on existing traffic signal infrastructure. Assistant Professor Anuj Sharma, Associate Professor Libby Jones, Assistant Professor Wei Qiao and Professor Larry Rilett's project, sponsored by the US Department of Transportation and the Mid-America Transportation Center, is an initiative to move toward "energy-plus" roadways that actually generate more energy than is needed to power the signal, and the excess can be supplied back to the main grid.

At a special press conference on Thursday, March 3, at UNL's Whittier Research Center, mayor Chris Beutler discussed the city's initiatives to develop and implement sustainable energy systems through partnering with researchers and Lincoln Electric Systems. At the press conference, Dr. Sharma discussed the benefits behind the technology and his hopes for advances in energy-plus roadways in the future. For the full story from the Lincoln Journal Star, please click here:

Research Recommendations for Roundabout Negotiation Now in Revised Driver’s Manual

January 16, 2011

Drivers who have encountered a roundabout and felt uncertain about the correct course of action are not alone, it seems. Dr. Aemal Khattak, associate professor of Civil Engineering, with Karen Schurr, Civil Engineering lecturer, and Dr. Ram Bishu, professor of Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, conducted a survey of five Nebraska cities (Lincoln, Omaha, Blair, Norfolk, and Plattsmouth) in order to determine roundabout elements and identify characteristics of drivers who are more likely to incorrectly navigate roundabouts. This project, titled "Investigation and mitigation of driver confusion at modern roundabouts" was sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Roads.


Dr. Azizinamini Receives AISC Special Achievement Award

December 06, 2010

Atorod Azizinamini has been selected by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) to receive the AISC Special Achievement Award for the development of the Folded Plate Girder System for steel bridges. A Special Achievement Award provides special recognition to individuals who demonstrated notable singular or multiple achievements in structural steel design, construction, research or education. Dr. Azizinamini will be presented with the award at the AISC National Steel Conference to be held on May 11-14, 2011 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Grand Island 8th-graders learn about traffic engineering

December 06, 2010

Eighth-graders at Barr Middle School will know why understanding traffic signals is so important. University of Nebraska graduate student Ben Grone, a transportation engineering student, was at Barr on Friday teaching students how to collect and use data. "We are trying to get them some hands-on experience with collecting data," he said. "By getting speeds of actual cars outside of the school, we are able to tie their math lesson into how that is applicable in a career."

State Engineer Monty Fredrickson Discusses State's Current Transportation Issues

November 23, 2010

MATC hosted the Director of the Nebraska Department of Roads, Monty Fredrickson, for a special edition of the Seminar Series on October 29th. Mr. Fredrickson began his presentation with a video that introduced the NDOR organization. The video examined the four key components of the organization's goals: Planning, Design, Construction, and Maintenance. The video explained how each of these four components is processed through NDOR. The presentation also described NDOR's responsibilities to the public: managing upwards of 2,100 employees, handling more than 10,000 miles of Nebraska roads, and how they and the Nebraska State Highway Commission work as public liaisons.

MATC Fall Semester Seminar Series: Jim Knott, NDOR Design Engineer

October 05, 2010

This fall semester, MATC is bringing a number of expert speakers from the transportation engineering community to students and faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska-Omaha. Speakers thus far have included Dr. Virginia Baldwin, head of the Engineering Library and Associate Professor at UNL; Dr. Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research; and Mr. Jim Knott, the Nebraska Department of Roads Design Engineer.

Most recently, Mr. Knott was the featured speaker on Friday, October 1st. He discussed the challenges faced by NDOR as their engineers strive to choose the right projects as revenues are declining but costs are escalating. Over the next three years, a $3 billion gap will emerge between needs and actual available funding.

Furthermore, needs are measured based only on preservation of existing roads, not new constructions. A proposed project may consume 10% of its total cost just in creating the preliminary design; that is, before it is even chosen as a viable endeavor, which can equal millions of dollars. Every project must be carefully considered based on cost/benefit analysis, Knott explained.

UNL Reopens Whittier as Research, Child Care Facility

September 29, 2010

City and university leaders hailed the reopening of the Whittier Research Center at a public open house and dedication. The building at 19th and Vine streets is now home to three UNL research teams and the University Children's Center, which is housed in a smaller building just to the north.

The center's first occupants are the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, the Nebraska Transportation Center and the Water for Food Institute.

"All of us have waited for this moment for a long time," said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. "It shows what can be done when reality collides with vision."

Built in 1923, Whittier was considered the first building in the United States constructed specifically for a junior high school. The Lincoln Board of Education voted in March 1977 to close the school.

Thirty years later, NU regents approved plans to renovate Whittier into a state-of-the-art child care and research facility.

Work began in September 2008 and included renovation of the three-story main building for research space, with heating, air conditioning, new windows and modern infrastructure.

The UNL Office of Research and Economic Development provided half the funding for the $20 million renovation; the remainder was funded by private gifts to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

MATC Scholars Program welcomes underrepresented students to graduate studies with resources for success

September 24, 2010

The UNL Mid-America Transportation Center hosted its first annual MATC Scholars Program, Sept. 23-24, to recruit undergraduate students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics to graduate studies.

The program focuses on providing underrepresented students with support skills for pursuing higher-level degrees and research interests, with session topics that included finding a faculty mentor, understanding research funding processes, and how to choose a graduate program. The 25 students involved in this year's meeting arrived from institutions around the nation, including Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La., Tennessee State University, and University of Maryland - Eastern Shore.

TRB Webinar Moderated by Dr. Aemal Khattak - "Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety 101: A Primer on Grade Crossing Safety"

September 13, 2010

On Thursday, September 16, 2010, Dr. Aemal Khattak, associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, moderated a TRB webinar that explored ways for municipal, county, and regional planners to improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings. Session presenters included Dr. Khattak, UNL; Jason Field, Moffatt & Nichol; Terry Byrne, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB); and Steve Laffey, Illinois Commerce Commission. Panelists highlighted topics including quiet zones, diagnostics, communications and agreements, as well as education and enforcement programs.

Dr. Khattak noted that the webinar was a success and was followed by many questions from the viewers. The session was recorded by TRB and those interested in obtaining a link can email Reggie Gillum at

MATC Students Go to Orlando for AREMA Conference

September 13, 2010

MATC graduate students Anna Rakoczy, Przemyslaw Rakoczy, and Benjamin Grone had the opportunity to attend the AREMA 2010 Annual Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Florida from August 29-31st. AREMA is the acronym for the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. Included as part of this conference was the 5th Annual Meet the Next Generation event, in which current students learn about the rail industry from experienced industry professionals and establish relationships with potential employers. Grone described the event as an important and informative one, as some transportation engineering students may initially overlook the rail industry when considering career options. According to Grone, however, this event demonstrated to students the ways in which almost all engineering specializations have a place in the thriving rail industry, which is of particular importance in Nebraska.

MATC Student Wins ASCE National Scholarship

September 13, 2010

John Coburn, an undergraduate civil engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was awarded the 2010 Samuel Fletcher Tapman ASCE Student Chapter Scholarship by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The award recognizes Coburn as an exemplary student member of a local ASCE student chapter based on his educational plan, academic performance and standing, potential for development, leadership capacity, and ASCE activities. Coburn has also worked as a MATC intern for the past two summers. Congratulations to Mr. Coburn for this recognition.


Midwest Roadside Safety Guardrail Nationally Honored

November 05, 2009

The Roadway Safety Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration on Nov. 5 recognized UNL's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility's "Development of Midwest Guardrail System for Special Applications" program for its efforts to innovate by designing safer and lower cost new highway guardrails that keep motorists on roads during crashes.

Buildings, Bridges and Barriers: Engineering for K-12

September 14, 2009

"What is an engineer?" is a question that many middle and high school students cannot answer. A collaborative team of UNL engineers (Dr. Larry Rilett) and educators (Drs. Gina Kunz and Gwen Nugent), together with the Nebraska Department of Education (Tony Glenn), are helping middle and high school students and their teachers understand engineering and the real life math, science, and technology applications that are the essence of this field. When we approach a stop light, cross a street, drive across a bridge, or survive a car accident, we can appreciate the reality of engineering in practice.

IRF Essay Student Winner - Jeff Thiele

January 12, 2009

Congratulations to Civil Engineering graduate student Jeff Thiele, one of the five winners of the International Road Federation's annual student essay competition. An international panel of judges graded essays submitted under five separate categories. Jeff Thiele's essay won the "Innovative Financing" category.


Lincoln Math Teacher Receives Presidential Award

May 01, 2008

Please join us in congratulating Jerel Welker, high school mathematics teacher at Southwest High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, recipient of the 2007 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Mr. Welker participated in the 2006 UNL Professional Development Science and Math Summer Technology Institute, co-sponsored by the Nebraska Transportation Center in the College of Engineering and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Mr. Welker stated that he was able to incorporate information he received during the Summer Institute as part of his application for this award.