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UGPTI to Honor Transportation Leaders at Annual Banquet Oct. 5 in Fargo

Posted: Sep 25, 2017

The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute will honor transportation leaders in the region at its 22nd Annual Awards Banquet Oct. 5 at the Fargo Holiday Inn. Award winners will include Grant Levi, former director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation; Niles Hushka, retired CEO of engineering firm KLJ, Inc.; and Kathy McCarthy, retired long-time administrative assistant for the Institute. The Institute will also award several scholarships to students interested in transportation.

Grant Levi will receive the John M. Agrey Award. Levi retired as director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation in May, having served as director since 2013. He guided the state's transportation agency during a time when the state was making historic investments in infrastructure to serve the growing energy and agriculture industries. Under his direction, the NDDOT, along with its transportation partners, advanced transportation improvements to increase traffic safety and enhance the quality of life for North Dakota residents.

Levi began his career with the NDDOT in 1980 as a temporary employee and later as a construction engineer in the Valley City District. He continued his career in the Bismarck central office, holding several positions over the years, and later as the Fargo District Engineer. Before being appoint director, Levi served as the NDDOT's deputy director for engineering from 1999 to 2013, overseeing operations, transportation, project development, planning, pre-construction, construction, and maintenance activities. In addition to his work with the state, Levi served on numerous national transportation committees, including six years as chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials materials committee.

Levi earned a B.S. in civil engineering from NDSU in 1982. He is a native of Zeeland, ND. He and his wife, Patty, reside in Bismarck. They have three children and five, soon to be six, grandchildren.

The John M. Agrey Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the state of North Dakota, its citizens, and its business community through involvement in transportation. The award is named for John M. Agrey, a pioneer, innovator and an advocate for transportation in North Dakota. He worked for the North Dakota Public Service Commission for nearly 40 years, demonstrating an untiring dedication for farmers and toward fair freight rates for North Dakota shippers.

Niles Hushka will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his innovative philosophies and creative solutions in the engineering industry and business community. His dedication to high ethical standards, quality work and entrepreneurial spirit has propelled him to lead KLJ, one of the nation's largest, regional, multi-disciplinary engineering and planning firms. Hushka served as president and CEO of KLJ and during his 9-year term led the company from a 300 person local firm to an 800 person regional company.

As a lifelong learner and leader, Hushka is actively involved in the communities KLJ serves. He volunteers his time to educational and community-focused organizations with a goal of generating and sharing positive ideas. Hushka serves on several boards of directors including Blue Cross Blue Shield North Dakota. He is a long-time member of the American Consulting Engineers Council and the National Society of Professional Engineers. He also served as chair of the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association.

He earned his B.S. in civil engineering from NDSU in 1978 and immediately began working for KLJ. During the first 30 years of his career, Hushka planned, surveyed, designed and managed construction for infrastructure improvements across the upper Midwest. His significant field experience allows him to stay connected to and understand the challenges faced by clients.

Hushka's ability to see opportunity and create strategies has led to many successful business ventures allowing him and KLJ to expand beyond traditional engineering. He retired from KLJ in December of 2016 facing health challenges. Hushka currently lives in Bozeman Montana where he continues to create and grow businesses.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have had a distinguished career, exhibiting long-term professional excellence in the field of transportation.

Kathy McCarthy will receive the Chairman's Award. McCarthy was manager and administrative assistant with UGPTI for 25 years. She was responsible for administrative management including supervision and personnel administration, management of the grants and contracts, all fiscal and financial reporting and budget preparation for the Institute, scheduled and coordinated national workshops and conferences, and coordinated activities of the communications and technical support staff. She assisted with the creation and operations of the research and training programs of the UGPTI, and implementation of the graduate education program established in 1994 via the TLN videoconference system.

McCarthy was the professional and friendly face of the UGPTI to visitors, callers or clients and was the go-to person for questions for those both within and outside of UGPTI. She cultivated an excellent working relationship with offices across campus.

McCarthy began her career at NDSU in 1974 working for the NDSU Extension Service until joining the UGPTI in 1990. In 2005, in recognition of her broad vision and knowledge of the UGPTI she was named department manager. She retired December 2016.

Joseph Smith and Joshua Nohner will receive Transportation Engineering scholarships. The scholarship recognizes academic achievement and promotes the education of transportation students at NDSU. Funding for two $1,500 scholarships is provided by the Mountain-Plains Consortium through the University Transportation Centers program of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Smith, from Redwood Falls, MN, is a senior in civil engineering. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and serves as the public relations officer for the NDSU Slopestyle Ski and Snowboard Club. He has been named to the dean's list for each of his five semesters at NDSU. Smith worked in the Redwood County Highway Department after his freshman year at NDSU, sparking an interest in transportation engineering. After graduation he hopes to work for a city, county or engineering firm, specializing in transportation engineering.

Nohner, from Becker, MN, is a senior in civil engineering. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. He has been named to the dean's list for three semesters. He is a student design assistant in the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute's Department of Transportation Support Center. He says the work there has given him an understanding of engineering principles and the fundamentals of highway design. He also plans to pursue a career in transportation engineering.

Ann Denk and Kaci Levorsen will receive Paul E.R. Abrahamson Transportation Scholarships. The scholarship recognizes outstanding students at NDSU with an interest in the transportation and logistics of agricultural products. Funding for two $1,500 scholarships is provided by the Mountain-Plains Consortium through the University Transportation Centers program of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The scholarship is named for Paul Abrahamson, a champion for the agricultural community of North Dakota. Paul devoted his life's work to promoting North Dakota's agricultural products, particularly wheat and durum. He served as the first administrator of the North Dakota Wheat Commission.

Denk is a senior in agricultural economics from Mondovi, WI. She is a member of the NDSU Agribusiness Club, the Sigma Alpha Professional Sorority, the Agricultural Honor Commission, the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the Golden Key Honour Society. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and has been named to the dean's list each of the semesters she has been at NDSU. Denk spent the summer working for Cargill, purchasing soybeans for a crushing plant in Lafayette, IN. She plans to obtain a master's degree and pursue a career in grain merchandising and marketing.

Kaci Levorsen is a senior in agricultural economics and marketing from Elgin, ND. She is the vice president of the NDSU Agriculture Collective, served as treasurer of the NDSU Human Resource Association and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. She is a member of the NDSU Agribusiness Club and the interdenominational Christian organization, CRU, and participates in intramural sports. She has been named to the dean's list each of the semesters that she has been at NDSU and has been accepted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. She plans to pursue a career in which she can assist farmers and ranchers in managing their risk, marketing their commodities, and become more knowledgeable about the financial services available to them.

Emma Keller will receive the Charles E. Herman Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes academic achievement and promotes the education of transportation students with a preference to women and minorities at NDSU. Funding for the $2,000 scholarship is provided by the Charles E. Herman Scholarship Endowment Fund, NDSU Development Foundation.

Keller is a senior in civil engineering from Velva, ND. She is active in her church and community. At NDSU, she is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. She transferred to NDSU in the Fall of 2015 after earning an associate of Science and Associate of Arts degree at Williston State College. At Williston State, she maintained a 4.0 GPA, was named to the president's list every semester and was chosen as student speaker for the 2015 commencement ceremony. She was team captain of the women's basketball team there and was named two times to the All-Conference team and was named an Academic All-American, by the National Junior College Athletic Association. She has been named to the dean's list for each of the semesters that she has been at NDSU and was invited to join the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Golden Key Honour Society, and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She plans to become a transportation engineer with Ackerman Estvold, the civil engineering and architectural consulting firm in Minot where she has been an intern for the last four summers.

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050
(701)231-7767info@ugpti.org