OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Chuck Hagel, who served as Secretary of Defense for three years in the Obama administration, got a first-hand look at the technology at UNO's N-CITE center, which includes robots and a state-of-the-art, i-Pad-like device.
“It really is cutting edge. This community, this state should be very proud,” said Hagel.
These devices are more than just toys. Staff and students at the N-CITE Center use the tools to learn more about terrorists, how to stop them and even to help prevent humanitarian crises around the world.
“This work that they're doing here represents the future of the world, future of our country,” said Hagel.
Hagel tells 3 News Now, with a rising population and continuing climate concerns, the work they’re doing in Omaha could shape the nation and the world for decades.
“It’s affecting us all so the work they’re doing here is really critical because we don’t terrorism and we don’t want conflict to start ruling all the decisions that world leaders have to make for the good of the country,” said Hagel.
While N-CITE has a network of partner institutions around the US, it’s centered in Omaha.
Hagel says due to its strong community ties and relatively small population, Nebraska is uniquely positioned to lead in areas like counter-terrorism.
“It doesn't mean that we’re better people than anybody else but it gives us kind of a view of the world that’s not necessarily shared by the east coast, west coast,” said Hagel.
Finally, Hagel had a chance to speak with students and staff in a more intimate setting, answering questions, and giving advice that could only come from the 75-year old elder statesman.
“You’ve got to get up every morning with something, some purpose, belief, belief in something,” said Hagel
Hagel also mentioned this week’s passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who he knew for a long time. He called Powell one of the greatest public servants the United States has ever had.