Calling them “bold ideas with big impact for Nebraskans,” University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter Tuesday presented a series of university proposals focused on workforce development, healthcare, and research and innovation for state leaders to consider for American Rescue Plan funding.
Carter, in testimony before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, said the federal relief dollars present a unique opportunity to invest in initiatives that will not only help Nebraska recover from the pandemic, but grow the state’s economic competitiveness and quality of life for generations to come.
“The chancellors and I have spent months talking about what we as Nebraska’s public university system could bring forward that would have the most meaningful and long-lasting impact for the people of our state,” Carter said. “These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to change the trajectory for Nebraska for years to come – solutions our university is uniquely positioned to deliver.
“We look forward to working closely with our elected leaders in the weeks and months ahead to advance our state through strategic use of these recovery dollars.”
Among the proposals from each of the system campuses, three proposals were put forward by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
“As Nebraska’s metropolitan university, UNO is uniquely positioned to drive economic growth and quality of life across the Omaha area,” said UNO Chancellor Joanne Li. “We have a special opportunity to further elevate UNO’s work in areas where we are already a recognized leader – areas like biomechanics, counterterrorism research and STEM education – to make an even greater impact in our community and around the world. We at UNO look forward to continued engagement with our elected leaders throughout this important process for our state’s future.”
UNO Biomechanics Research – World-Leading Work in Health and Human Sciences
Estimated proposal cost: $16 million
Building on leading research through UNO’s Department of Biomechanics and the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability, as well as $20 million in funding through the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), this funding would expand cardiovascular device manufacturing and testing capabilities as well as soft tissue imaging and analysis.
This would be accomplished through new academic and industry collaboration opportunities, expanded research collaborations with federal partners, a new research core to attract research funding from biomedical industry sources, and provide for equipment required for deep tissue scanning and research of human arteries.
Funding would also support the Health & Kinesiology Research, Engagement, and Community Hub (REACH) initiative which aims to expand research, workforce development, and community collaboration capabilities. This would also provide for facility renovations to consolidate teaching and research labs, provide a dedicated entrance for the School of Health & Kinesiology on the southeast corner of Dodge Campus, and alleviate research subject privacy concerns through a separate entrance.
UNO Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) TRAIL Center
Estimated proposal cost: $5 million
The STEM TRAIL Center at UNO aims to improve human potential through lifelong learning and expand the STEM workforce in Nebraska. This proposal would provide for the renovation and building of an innovative space to house the center and better meet demand for its programming that supports P-12 teachers, entrepreneurs, informal educators, and community partners.
This one-time funding opportunity would support several of STEM TRAIL Center’s key initiatives, including:
- Expanding technical skills common to a variety of STEM professions to make re-skilling Nebraska’s workforce easier
- Supporting P-12 teachers though professional development in addition to partnerships with the Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium (MOEC) and community partners
- Expanding training opportunities for informal educators through partnerships with Collective for Youth and dozens of before and after school programs in Omaha
- Developing a mentored, entrepreneurial pipeline to help students take University-derived technology and launch small businesses with faculty mentorship.
This proposal would enhance the center’s competitiveness for federal grants, provide the center with a dedicated space on campus, expand space available for community events, and secure UNO as a national and international model for STEM excellence.
UNO National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education (NCITE) Center
Estimated proposal cost: $4 million
Established in 2020 through a historic 10-year, $36 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security, NCITE serves as the national academic hub focused on bolstering counterterrorism efforts and terrorism and targeted violence prevention. The goal of NCITE is to translate relevant research into tools for front line Homeland Security professionals and help build a workforce pipeline for STEM and Homeland Security fields.
A $4 million investment through American Rescue Plan Act funding would be used to create labs and spaces within NCITE to increase its research technology capacity. This includes:
- The NCITE Safe Communities Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab, a public-facing lab which can be used to conduct studies focused on innovations to keep communities safe.
- The Militant and Radical Violent Extremist Leadership Lab (MARVEL) to empower collaborative research among experts in extremism to study how organizational leadership and resources can predict and thwart terrorism.
- The NCITE Experiential Security Innovation and Events Space to bring together NCITE researchers, students, community partners, and future generations to experience NCITE’s collaborative research.
Detailed information on proposals from UNO as well as the other University of Nebraska System campuses can be found on the NU website.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.