Incoming Auburn transportation director honored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Published: Mar 30, 2021 3:06 PM

By Chris Anthony

Laurence Rilett, the incoming director of the Auburn University Transportation Research Institute, has earned one of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s highest faculty honors.

Rilett was one of three University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty to receive the President’s Excellence Awards. He was honored with an Innovation, Development and Engagement Award, which recognizes faculty who have extended their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university, enriching the broader community.

At Nebraska, Rilett serves as professor of civil and environmental engineering, Keith W. Klaasmeyer Chair in Engineering and Technology and director of the Nebraska Transportation Center and Mid-America Transportation Center. 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln wrote:

Rilett, known for his research in transportation system analysis, has said his centers’ outreach programs are the most gratifying part of his work. He works extensively with K-12 students, many of them from underrepresented backgrounds, to interest them in college and STEM fields. He led the development of “Roads, Rails and Race Cars,” an after-school program for middle schoolers that has served more than 12,500 students, including, after a recent expansion, students on the Omaha, Winnebago and Santee Sioux Reservations. He also collaborated with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs on a STEM summer academy for Native American high school students. Rilett also created the Mid-America Transportation Center’s Scholars Program, which provides mentorship to undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to help them navigate the graduate school recruitment, admissions and completion process.

Rilett will join Auburn Engineering later this year and hold the Ginn Distinguished Professorship. As the inaugural director of the Transportation Research Institute, Rilett is tasked with fostering continued growth and expansion of Auburn’s rich history of excellence in transportation research.

Established earlier this year, the Transportation Research Institute provides a unified presence and strategic direction for promoting the renowned transportation-related research conducted within the academic departments and research centers in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. There are four units under the Transportation Research Institute umbrella — the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) and its affiliated asphalt test track, the Highway Research Center (HRC), the Alabama Transportation Assistance Program (ATAP) and the GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory (GAVLAB).

Read more about Rilett’s appointment and the Transportation Research Institute.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips,, 334.844.2444
Laurence Rilett

Laurence Rilett

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