97th Annual TRB
January 2018: In the above photo, RailTEC students attend one of the many sessions at the 97th Annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 7 - 11, 2018. RailTEC faculty, students and alumni were responsible for over 40 separate entries, including 28 presentations, 10 session leaders and 3 committee chairs. Click here for a guide to RailTEC presentations or session chairs. For more photos of the event, please see our conferences attended page.
RailTEC Student Awarded Scholarship
January 2018: Weixi Li, a RailTEC graduate student, has received the WTS Greater Chicago President's Scholarship for the 2017-2018 school year. WTS is an international organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation. Scholarships are given annually to women pursuing careers in the area of transportation. In the photo Weixi Li, left, is pictured with WTS Greater Chicago Chapter Scholarship Chair and RailTEC alumna, Carrie Desmond.
Apply now - Master of Railway Engineering Degree Program
January 2018: Apply by April 15 (international applicants) or May 15 (domestic applicants) for the Engineering Department's new Master of Engineering in Railway Engineering program. This non-thesis master's degree can be earned in 3 semesters. This degree helps address growth in the rail industry which has led to a substantial demand for a new generation of professionals educated in the principles of railway engineering. It provides a broad interdisciplinary education in railway engineering for a variety of professional career-track students. For more program details, click here.
Barkan Receives Hochman Lifetime Achievement Award
January 2018: On Monday, January 8, 2018 Professor and RailTEC Executive Director Dr. Christopher Barkan was awarded the Charles H. Hochman Lifetime Achievement Award by the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on the Transport of Hazardous Materials (TRB AT040). The award was presented at the 97th TRB Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C. on January 7-11, 2018. The award was created to formally recognize outstanding lifetime achievements in hazardous materials transportation research, innovation, regulation, or management. Dr. Barkan is the fourth recipient to receive this award. In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2015 Dr. Barkan was recognized by TRB AT040 with an Outstanding Paper of the Year Award for the research paper titled "Probability Analysis of Multiple-Tank-Car Release Incidents in Railway Hazardous Materials Transportation". The co-authors of the paper are RailTEC alumni, Dr. Xiang Liu and Dr. Rapik Saat.
RailTEC at TRB
January 2018: RailTEC students, faculty and alumni will have a strong showing next week at the 97th Annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 7 - 11, 2018. Overall there are over 40 separate entries, including 28 presentations, 10 session leaders and 3 committee chairs. Click here for a guide to RailTEC presentations or session chairs.
CN Geometry Car Tour
December 2017: AREMA student chapter members braved the cold on Saturday, December 16, 2017 and toured CN's Geometry Car as it passed through Champaign, IL. The students were treated to detailed explanations of the workings both inside and outside the car. For more photos, see our field trips page.
Distinguished Visitors Tour RAIL
Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth
University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones
December 2017: Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth and UI Chancellor Robert Jones met with RailTEC members and toured the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) on Friday, December 15, 2017. In the top photo, Senator Duckworth, right, listens to UI graduate student Tom Roadcap explain how stresses around the bolt-holes at rail joints can lead to cracking while Marcus Dersch, RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, looks on. In the bottom photograph Chancellor Jones poses with members of the RailTEC Infrastructure Group. Click here to see additional photos from the visit as well as see local press coverage.
FRA Project Final Report Published
December 2017: FRA recently published the two-volume final report on RailTEC’s research project titled: Improved Concrete Crosstie and Fastening Systems for US High Speed Passenger Rail and Joint Corridors. This project included field and laboratory experimentation and finite element modeling (FEM) to quantify the performance of crossties and fastening systems and facilitated the proposal of design practice improvements for concrete crossties in North America, some of which have been included recent versions of the AREMA Manual for Railway Engineering. To read Volume 1, click here and for Volume 2, click here.
Monticello Railway Museum Work Days
Group photo from October 7, 2017
Group photo from November 11, 2017
November 2017: Approximately 50 civil engineering students and faculty from CEE 408 (Railway Transportation Engineering) and CEE 409 (Railroad Track Engineering) participated in two work days at the Monticello Railway Museum (MRM) in Monticello, Illinois. On both days the team spent time replacing ties at the museum. Thanks to MRM for the opportunity to provide hands on track work experience for RailTEC students. To see other field trips our students have participated in, click here.
Railroad Environmental Conference
October 2017: The 19th Annual Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC), held October 24 – 25 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, was a success. Almost 500 participants attended two full days of thought-provoking presentations by railroaders, consulting engineers, academics and others involved in all aspects of railroad environmental topics. An article about the conference was featured in the local newspaper, The News-Gazette. To read the article, click here. The 20th RREC dates are October 23-24, 2018. Check back for more details on how this milestone will be celebrated.
High Speed Rail Academic Alliance
TC Kao, third from right, pictured with colleagues at the conference.
September 2017: TC Kao, RailTEC Research Professor and Director – High Speed Rail System, represented RailTEC at the International Union of Railways (UIC) High-Speed Rail Academic Alliance Workshop in London on September 21 – 22, 2017. The conference was organized by Professor Roderick Smith and UIC and was held at Imperial College. TC gave a presentation on the UIUC RailTEC program (as well as NTUs) and participated in the discussions.
Undergraduate Research Fair
Brandon Wang, a RailTEC Ph.D. student, talks with a UIUC undergrad.
September 2017: Eight RailTEC students volunteered to work at the Fall Undergraduate Research Resource Fair on Monday, September 25, 2017 in the Illini Union. This was a great way to spread awareness of the research RailTEC is doing and potentially recruit new students. The resource fair helps engineering undergraduate students gather information on how to get involved in research, meet people from different research laboratories and undergraduate research programs, and listen to their peers talk about their undergraduate research experiences.
September 2017: Congratulations to the 2017 AREMA Quiz Bowl Championship-winning team from the University of Illinois! This is the fourth straight year the UIUC student chapter has won first place. Left to right: Stan Chang, Darkhan Mussanov, Jacob Rajlich, Zezhou Wang, and Wesley Chen. Of the top five winners this year, two were NURail member teams and two were NURail affiliates.
New Master of Engineering in Railway Engineering Degree
September 2017: The Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is offering a new Master of Engineering in Railway Engineering program. This non-thesis master's degree can be earned in 3 semesters and includes an international exchange semester with KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. This degree helps address growth in the rail industry which has led to a substantial demand for a new generation of professionals educated in the principles of railway engineering. It provides a broad interdisciplinary education in railway engineering for a variety of professional career-track students. For more program details, click here.
RailTEC Attending IHHA
August 2017: Two RailTEC faculty and four students are travelling to attend the 11th International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA) Conference in Cape Town South Africa on September 2 – 6, 2017. RailTEC has a total of 11 faculty and student papers and presentations at the conference. To see our IHHA conference booklet, click here. The IHHA conference includes presentations of technical papers in research and development areas such as Rolling Stock and Railway Infrastructure and Operations, and aims to address recent the market downturn characterized by low commodity prices, low GDP growth rates, and slowdown in demand for freight bulk commodities such as coal and iron ore.
RailTEC Short Course
RailTEC Short Course participants touring the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL).
August 2017: Last week RailTEC’s Short Course focusing on Track Systems and Infrastructure Components; Locomotives, Rolling Stock and Mechanical Components; Rail Project Design and Construction was held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus on August 7 – 11, 2017. There were 18 participants in the class. The students eengaged in interactive lectures, relevant case studies and small group discussions to learn about the practical aspect and the science behind railway engineering and transportation concepts. All participants received Professional Development Hours (PDH) and a Certificate of Completion. If you missed the class this year, check back next year for our schedule.
3 PhDs in 3 Months
Congratulations to the 3 RailTEC Ph.D. students who successfully defended their dissertations in a 3 month time period between May and July. Left to right: Alexander Lovett, Sam Chadwick and Mei-Cheng Shih.
NURail Center Site Visit
LaChaundra Graham (foreground) poses for a selfie with NURail Director Dr. Chris Barkan (right) and other members of the research team.
July 2017: LaChaundra Graham, the NURail Center Grant Manager from the USDOT Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research & Technology, visit the Illinois campus on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 for a site visit. During the full day of meetings Ms. Graham listened to presentations on NURail’s research, technology transfer, and education and workforce development projects as well as toured the Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory and the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL). Presentations were given by both Illinois students and researchers, as well as NURail partners from Michigan Technological University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Kentucky. By visiting the University Transportation Centers (UTC) such as NURail, the UTC program office staff can evaluate the current management of UTC’s as well as the UTC’s ability to meet its goals and to adhere to grant requirements.
p-REES Symposium Support
Tyler Dick, Senior Research Engineer and Director of Education, presenting one of his p-REES modules.
July 2017: APTA hosted its second biennial Passenger Railway Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES), July 10-12, 2017, in Los Angeles, California at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College. P-REES’ goal is to encourage engineering faculty to add rail and engineering content to their current courses and curricula. RailTEC sent three faculty members to teach different modules at the symposium. Chris Barkan, Tyler Dick and Conrad Ruppert, Jr. provided practical hands-on engineering information and materials to the attendees.
Over 100 Attend RIVIT Conference
June 2017: One hundred and nineteen attendees participated in the first Rail Infrastructure and Vehicle Inspection Technology (RIVIT) Conference held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus on June 20 – 21, 2017. Twenty nine states, 7 countries and 29 rail companies were represented at the conference. The program is available here. Conference objectives include improving the effectiveness of existing technologies, development and implementation of new technologies, and presenting research on emerging technologies with the potential to be applied to rail transportation.
Rail Insights Conference
C. Tyler Dick, RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, (right) and Dr. Allan Zarembski, Research Professor and Director - Railroad Engineering and Safety Program, University of Delaware, (center) were part of the Leveraging Big Data for Maintenance-of-Way and Safety panel at the 2017 Rail Insights Conference at the Union League Club in Chicago on Wednesday 7 June 2017. The panel was hosted by Mischa Wanek-Libman, RT&S Editor and Railway Age Editor-Engineering, (left). Railway Age also live tweeted several key points and hot topics raised during their discussion.
RailTEC Award Winners
Tom Roadcap with his parents, Janet and George Roadcap.
Brendan Schmit with his family.
Jasmine Munoz with her family.
April 2017: Congratulations go out to three RailTEC students who have been awarded University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil and Environmental Engineering honors this year at the CEE Awards Convocation on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the I-Hotel & conference Center. The winners are:
Thomas Roadcap – both the Ira O. Baker Prize and the Carroll C. Wiley Traveling Award
Brendan Schmit – Norman Carlson Scholarship
Jasmine Munoz - Road Builders Charities Scholarship
Spring 2017 Research
Spring 2017: UIUC cast prototype concrete crossties as a part of a Federal Transit Authority supported project. Researchers are developing more resilient, yet efficiently designed crossties for light, heavy, and commuter rail operations.
AAR Research Review
March 2017: RailTEC staff, alumni and students attended the AAR Research Review in Colorado Springs, CO on 21 – 22 March 2017. Shown above are a group of RailTEC students and research engineers touring the EVRAZ Pueblo Facility on Monday, 20 March. They visited both the Steelmaking and Rail Mills parts of the facility.
Engineering Open House Visitors
March 2017: The NURail Center and RailTEC welcomed Hanson Professional Services Inc. and a group of middle and high school students from Springfield, IL to Engineering Open House (EOH) on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus on Saturday, March 11. EOH is an annual student-led event featuring two days of exhibits and competitions that showcase the engineering students and is open to the public at no cost. Hanson’s group of 50 students and adults spent the day examining a portion of the over 250 interactive exhibits on display. For more photos of the Hanson visit, click here.
Illinois Students Awarded AREMA Scholarships
March 2017: The AREMA Educational Foundation announced its 2017 Scholarship Winners and eleven Illinois students are recipients. The winners this year are: Josue Bastos, Weixi Li, Chen-Yu Lin, Alexander Lovett, Darkhan Mussanov, Sean Pengelly, Alejandro Reyes, Tom Roadcap, Scott Schmidt, Luv Seghal and Brandon Wang. The AREMA Educational Foundation provides scholarships to engineering students who are specializing in the railway industry and supports other educational and training endeavors that help to ensure the future of the profession. For a complete list of names and their awarded scholarships, click here. Congratulations to all!
Roadcap Wins CEE’s Baker Award
February 2017: Congratulations to Tom Roadcap, a 2017 recipient of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department’s Baker Award. Tom started working for RailTEC four years ago as a freshman and his interest in research allowed him to shift from administrative tasks to research activities. The purpose of the Baker award is to recognize outstanding seniors. In addition to superior scholastic achievement, CEE faculty select winners based on a student’s activities in organizations and on personal characteristics that include initiative, reliability, and potential. The Baker Award has been awarded to the top-ranking seniors in civil engineering every spring since 1924. The award is named after Ira O. Baker, a civil engineering faculty member from 1875 to 1925, and Department Head for 39 of the 50 years.
BBC Show Spotlights RAIL Visit
February 2017: The BBC show, “Great American Railroad Journeys”, that RailTEC took part in taping during the fall of 2016, aired on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 on BBC2. Series host Michael Portillo used an 1879 copy of Appleton's Guidebook to the railroads of the United States and Canada, and travelled across the U.S. by train, making stops at important historical sites and learning about influential historical events and famous Americans. Portillo and his production crew visited local railroad sites including RailTEC’s Research & Innovation Laboratory (RAIL). While at RAIL, Portillo was filmed learning how to apply a rail strain gauge to capture the loads from trains that are being imparted into the track, first by cleaning the rail and then by tack welding the gauge onto the rail. Click here to see the RailTEC portion of the show. Click here to see photos from their visit.
100 Years of Railroad Engineeringhere.
RailTEC student, Luv Sehgal (L), with conference organizers.
February 2017: Last month RailTEC student, Luv Sehgal, presented a paper at the 2017 International Technical Seminar organized by the Institution of Permanent Way Engineers (IPWE). The seminar was held in Mumbai, India on 12 – 13 January 2017 and the title of his paper was “Hot Mix Asphalt in Ballasted Railway Track: International Experiences and Inferences”. During the seminar Luv was recognized as the youngest presenter. One of his co-authors, Amit Garg, is a RailTEC alumni.
Meeting and RAIL Tour Mentioned
January 2017: RailTEC’s Research And Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) was mentioned in the November-December 2016 issue of TR News. In the Technical Activities section on page 23, the Rail Group Committee mentions a joint meeting of the Rail Group and the Freight Rail Transportation Committee on the UIUC campus and touring RAIL. Click here to see the photo and text.