2022 was a year of growth, innovation and achievement in the College of Engineering

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Though not scheduled to open until early 2024, Kiewit Hall takes its place as what University of Nebraska President Ted Carter called one of City Campus' "landmarks."
Though not scheduled to open until early 2024, Kiewit Hall takes its place as what University of Nebraska President Ted Carter called one of City Campus' "landmarks."

With the future sharply in focus, the College of Engineering experienced another year of growth and milestones in 2022, including construction projects that will expand educational capabilities and research that is gaining attention around the world and even in outer space. 

A beam-signing ceremony marked a major milestone in the construction of Kiewit Hall, a $115 million building focused on undergraduate education. University of Nebraska President Ted Carter said the building, which will open in 2024, has already established itself as a landmark, both in a physical sense and for what it represents.

“This amazing structure will be one of the centerpieces as you come onto campus,” Carter said. “I've heard from Nebraskans how important it is that we, as a university system, be hand-in-glove with the business community and how we're going to build out the future professions, particularly in engineering and STEM-based fields for the great state of Nebraska.” 

Also, 2022 was highlighted by myriad successes for the Nebraska Engineering community. Among those were four National Science Foundation Early Career Award Program grants, faculty and student research projects preparing for missions into space, and students making impacts through educational innovations and outreach programs.

Here is a look at some of the big 2022 stories from the College of Engineering:


The signed beam is lifted into place atop Kiewit Hall.

Construction of the privately funded, $115 million Kiewit Hall reached a major milestone on Aug. 31 as a special beam-signing ceremony was held. – Sept. 2

The College of Engineering added 13 new faculty for the 2022-23 academic year, increasing total faculty hires to 67 over the past six years. – Sept. 7

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln received a $2 million gift from alumna Kit Schmoker and her late husband, university alumnus Dick Schmoker, for an endowed faculty chair in systems engineering. – Nov. 1

Ten faculty were honored with new named professorships; the college currently has 28 named professorships. Five additional college faculty have university professorships. – Nov. 22


Forty first-year students were chosen for the inaugural cohort of the Peter Kiewit Foundation Engineering Academy.

Chosen from more than 170 applications for the 2022-23 academic year, 10 first-year students in the College of Engineering comprise the second cohort of the Kiewit Scholars Program. – Sept. 12

Forty first-year students – including 10 based on Scott Campus in Omaha – have been chosen for the inaugural cohort of the Peter Kiewit Foundation Engineering Academy. – Sept. 23


Four Nebraska Engineering faculty earned NSF CAREER Awards in 2022 - (clockwise from top left) Jae Sung Park, Ruiguo Yang, Nicole Iverson, and Wei Bao.

With a five-year, $508,780 award Jae Sung Park aims to discover patterns or orders in turbulent flows of gases and liquids and then develop methods of exploiting those orders to mitigate their impact. – Feb. 4

Wei Bao received a five-year, $756,713 grant to support finding a way to make quantum simulators function at room temperature. – Feb. 16

Ruiguo Yang was awarded a five-year, $540,000 grant to examine how cell-cell junctions respond to various strains, a study that could shed light on the mechanics of diseases like cancer, genetic mutations in the heart, and autoimmune skin conditions. – April 13

A five-year, $550,000 grant enables Nicole Iverson to develop ways to use carbon nanotubes as sensors that can help in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. – April 27


Benjamin Riggan and the WatchID team work to develop whole-body biometric identification systems.

A three-year, $450,000 AFOSR Young Investigator grant helps Keegan Moore work backward to develop better computer models. – Jan. 10

Hongfeng Yu and Tian Gao are part of a UNL team that developed an imaging system that could help capture the nutritional value of seeds from myriad crops by first capturing the invisible wavelengths reflecting from them. – Feb. 4

Josephine Lau received a two-year, $556,000 grant from the Nebraska Department of Education to study the efficacy and impact of air-cleaning devices and how they affect the environments and performance of K-12 students. – Feb. 17

Research conducted by Mathias Schubert "planted the seed" that grew into an international collaboration on a new class of materials that could change the way the world uses electricity and on emerging technologies. – March 3

Rajib Saha and Niaz Bahar Chowdhury are studying how corn roots adapt to insufficient nitrogen, with an eye toward making genetic tweaks that might increase plant growth and yields without excessive application of fertilizer. – March 15

Faculty and students working with femtosecond lasers in the Center for Electro-Optics and Functionalized Surfaces are creating water-repellant surfaces to minimize power lines from freezing and whipping in the wind. – March 25

Jinying Zhu and Fadi Alsaleem have received a three-year, $800,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a dual-sensing, health-monitoring system for spent nuclear fuel canisters. – April 11

Eric Markvicka and his research team won the DMD 5MP competition for their "electronic nose," a sensing device worn on the skin that can identify organic compounds in exhaled breath or skin excretions. – April 22

Wei Bao’s team developed a new photonics device that could get scientists closer to the "holy grail" of quantum materials – finding the global minimum of mathematical formulas at room temperature. – June 20

Benjamin Riggan and the WatchID team of researchers from across the U.S. are working in a competitive federal research grant program to develop software systems for whole-body biometric identification. – June 21

The Midwest Roadside Safety Facility received a donated database of detailed data for electric vehicles from Caresoft Global, a vehicle data benchmarking organization. – June 22

Jeffrey Shield and a team of materials researchers show that larger grains of hafnium oxide produce higher-quality, more reliable ferroelectricity, a “significant breakthrough” in data-encoding material. – July 12

Tirthankar Roy is part on a team of National Drought Mitigation Center researchers working on a $1 million grant from U.S. Air Force Weather to study links between weather/climate and civil unrest. – July 12

Keegan Moore is part of a UNL-UNO gait study collaboration working on $473,720 in grants and using cutting-edge technology to determine why walking requires more energy as people age. – July 19

The Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab, led by Justin Bradley, is developing an algorithm for the Army to control drone swarms for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance missions. – July 22

Shane Farritor’s team was invited by NASA to prepare a miniaturized surgical robot for a 2024 mission that will include testing aboard the International Space Station. – Aug. 2

Eric Markvicka is part of a team that gained international attention for an octopus-inspired glove that gives divers a more reliable grasp on objects underwater. – Aug. 2

Mohammad Hasan is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to help undergraduate studentsimprove their academic performance and strengthen the pipeline of college graduates prepared for STEM jobs. – Aug. 2

With the help of supercomputers from the Holland Computing Center, a team of civil and environmental engineers is analyzing historical data from the Sandhills to predict the impact of climate change on herbicide runoff. – Aug. 4

A five-year, $1.6 million National Institutes of Health grant is enabling Rebecca Wachs to isolate causes of low-back pain. – Aug. 11

Christine Wittich leads a national effort to gather information on how state departments of transportation use social media during emergencies and develop best practices for crisis communications. – Aug. 17 

Jae Sung Park and Yusong Li are working on a three-year, $418,120 NSF grant to learn how ultrasmall particles can better move through confined fluid flows in transport systems, such as pipes. – Aug. 22

A Nebraska Environmental Trust grant helps Bruce Dvorak seek a more environmentally sensitive process of ethanol production by reducing the amounts of water and energy used and cutting air emissions. – Aug. 22

Santosh Pitla leads a team from multiple University of Nebraska institutions to improve the cybersecurity of autonomous farm vehicles such as tractors and robots. – Aug. 28

President Biden announced $25 million in funding for Nebraska’s new Heartland Robotics Cluster, which includes the College of Engineering, through the American Rescue Plan Regional Challenge. – Sept. 2

Leading-edge technology developed by University of Nebraska researchers to monitor the health of rural bridges in Nebraska was chosen as a winner of the NATO Innovation Challenge. – Oct. 28

Rajib Saha is part of a team seeking to bioengineer a common defense mechanism most plants develop naturally to protect against environmental stresses, such as drought, ultraviolet rays and insects. – Nov. 3

A team of faculty from multiple departments in the College of Engineering is working to design a next-generation wireless network for agricultural fields. – Nov. 9

More than $1.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy will allow two engineering teams to expand innovative energy-related research in partnership with national laboratories. – Nov. 29


Marilyn Wolf receives the 2022 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award.

Andrew Hamann was selected to receive the 2022 American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy Career Development Award. – Jan. 28

Carl Nelson, whose work has resulted in 12 patents in surgical robotics and rehabilitation engineering, was elected a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors. – Feb. 11

Angela Pannier was elected to the 2022 Class of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows. – March 9

Shane Farritor was selected as the inaugural winner of the University of Nebraska system's Faculty Intellectual Property Innovation and Commercialization Award. – April 15

Ronald Faller and Leen-Kiat Soh were named as Willa Cather/Charles Bessey professors by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. – April 26

Tian Zhang was selected as an American Society of Civil Engineers Distinguished Member, the highest honor awarded by the society. – May 13

At the annual American Society of Engineering Education conference, engineering faculty and staff earned a spate of awards, including Heidi Diefes-Dux being named a Fellow Member and Jena Asgarpoor receiving the Keating Award. – July 8

School of Computing Director Marilyn Wolf was honored with the 2022 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award, which recognizes inspirational teaching of graduate students in IEEE fields of interest. – Aug. 11

Six college faculty and six engineering graduate students were selected to the 2022-23 class of Nebraska Governance and Technology Center fellows. – Aug. 16

Congrui “Grace” Jin was awarded a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award to support research using microorganisms to develop concrete that can heal its own cracks. – Oct. 13

Civil and environmental engineering researchers earned the American Society of Civil Engineers 2022 T.Y. Lin Award for a paper that proposes flexural design recommendations for precast, pretensioned ultrahigh-performance concrete applications. – Oct. 28

Ronald Faller, Willa Cather Research Professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, was selected as a National Academy of Inventors Fellow. – Dec. 8 


Cassie Perry (left) and Mary Ankenbauer compete in the Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Case Competition.

Riley Ruskamp, a graduate research assistant at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, received a Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Transportation. – March 25

Ian Tempelmeyer, a graduate student in biological systems engineering, won first place in the Engineering Pitch Competition for a robotic system with a planter attachment to aid corn farmers. – April 8

Sarah Altman, a junior in biological systems engineering, earned a Goldwater Scholarship to support her pursuit of a research career. – April 15

Three engineering undergraduate students were on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s first-ever national championship debate team. – April 21

Aaron Haake, a senior in mechanical engineering, and Mark Nail, a mechanical engineering alum, received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards. – April 21

Undergraduates Mary Ankenbauer and Cassie Perry reached the semifinals of the Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Case Competition. – April 26

Evan Palmer, a senior software engineering major, was awarded a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. – May 4

Software engineering student Adrian Pilkington earned a Fulbright Award to teach English in France. – May 11

Jazmin Ley, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics, earned a Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Laboratory Residency Graduate Fellowship and a Milton E. Mohr fellowship. – June 15

A team of students from the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction received the $25,000 grand prize of the 2022 NCEES Engineering Education Award. – July 6

Brandi Brown, a biological engineering postdoctoral student, received a USDA Postdoctoral Fellowship to develop a microbe that can be fed renewable feedstocks to create biodegradable plastics. – July 22

Architectural engineering doctoral student Samuel Underwood nearly swept all of the major 2022 student awards from the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA. – Aug. 5

A team of engineering students took first place in an international robotics competition held at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting. – Aug. 10

Sam Gibson, a senior majoring in mechanical and materials engineering, was chosen to receive the American Society of Mechanical Engineers International Standards & Certification Scholar Award. – Sept. 16

Youra Moeun, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering, received the American Institute of Chemical Engineering Women in Chemical Engineering Mentorship Excellence Award. – Dec. 9

Arafat Alam, a doctoral student in civil engineering, was selected for the Transportation Research Board’s 2022-23 Airport Cooperative Research Program Graduate Research Award. – Dec. 16

Kazi Albab Hussain, a doctoral student in civil engineering, was chosen as a 2022-23 Buffett Early Childhood Institute Graduate Scholar and received a $25,000 award. – Dec. 16 


An engineering student works on a GoBabyGo! car.

Doctoral student Sam Murray developed and taught Electrical and Computer Engineering's embedded systems class, which features integrated circuit solutions developed in the department. – March 25

Seven engineering students participated in GoBabyGo!, in which future engineers and health professionals customize electric cars to meet the needs of children with mobility issues. – April 6

Nebraska Engineering’s Spring 2022 graduates included the first two members of the Women in Engineering and Multicultural Engineering Program cohorts:  Samantha Corey (civil engineering) from WIE and Rainier Sarreal (computer engineering) from MEP. – May 11

Less than a year before its solar panel payload will fly on a NASA mission, the CubeSat team of College of Engineering students and Nebraska middle and high school students tested it by launching a balloon nearly 20 miles into the sky. – June 11

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