RailTEC Alum to Lead Mexican Rail Regulatory Agency

Alejandro Alvarez Reyes

Former RailTEC graduate student, Alejandro Álvarez Reyes, will be heading the Mexican Railway Transport Regulatory Agency (ARTF) as of December 1, 2018. Alejandro graduated with his master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2017 where he was involved with the Infrastructure Group as a graduate research assistant. Alejandro has been involved in the Mexican rail industry for more than eighteen years and started his career at the Class I railroad, Ferromex. Before coming to the University of Illinois he was involved with consulting companies for four years overseeing railway projects. He holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where he has been an associate lecturer in railroads since 2011.

RISEN Scholars Present Hay Seminar

November 2018: RailTEC was mentioned in the Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering Network (RISEN) November 2018 Newsletter. On September 28, 2018, two RISEN scholars gave a presentation on “Railway Track Superstructure Research at Tampere University of Technology, Finland” for the William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Seminar. The newsletter mentions they will soon be interviewed for the RISEN YouTube channel. Click here to see the newsletter.

Celebrating the 20th RREC

The Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC) celebrated its 20th annual conference this year on October 23-24, 2018. This two day conference, held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, had over 500 people registered who had the opportunity to hear 70 different presentations and visit with 58 exhibitors. The conference has seen significant growth since the first event in 1999 that had 150 attendees, 40 presentations and 9 exhibitors. Sponsorships have also increased from five in the first year to 36 this year. Professor and George Krambles Faculty Fellow Christopher Barkan received a plaque recognizing his service to the conference from environmental representatives of the railroad industry. Keynote Speaker for the conference was Michael Rush of the AAR. Save the date for the 21st RREC on October 22-23, 2019.

Historic Steam Locomotive Lab

Historic Steam Locomotive Lab

The old Locomotive Testing Laboratory, originally a star attraction on campus and a state-of-the-art laboratory when it was built in 1912, was torn down on August 11 and 12, 2018 due to structural concerns. The building was designed to test bearings of steam locomotives under load as measured by a built-in dynamometer. It was said to be one of only three such facilities in the United States. Research was performed here from 1913 until the mid-forties, at which point it was converted into the aeronautical laboratory. RailTEC research is now conducted at the 3,500 sq. ft. Research And Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) in the Harry Schnabel, Jr. building on the CERL campus, while the administrative offices are in Newmark Lab. The building was recently featured in a News-Gazette column by journalist Tom Kacich. Click here to read his article.

2018 RailTEC Short Course

RailTEC Short Course 2018 participants

The Railroad Engineering Short Course, held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus on August 6 – 10, 2018, focused on track systems and infrastructure components; locomotives, rolling stock and mechanical components; rail project design and construction; and track structural analysis. The 17 participants this year engaged in  interactive lectures, relevant case studies and small group discussions to learn about practical aspects 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, next year’s class is scheduled for August 5-9, 2019.

Fourth RailTEC Alumnus Receives “Rising Star” Award

Xiang Liu

Dr. Xiang Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Rutgers University and Director of the Rutgers Rail Program, was named by Progressive Railroading magazine as a recipient of their “Rising Stars” award. This award recognizes people under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in the North American railroad industry. Liu is the fourth RailTEC alumni to receive this award since its inception six years ago. Other RailTEC winners were: Kevin Day (2014), Riley Edwards (2015) and Rapik Saat (2016). Liu was one of 20 individuals chosen out of more than 150 nominations. He received both an M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering with a focus on rail engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This year’s honorees were chosen based on their contributions to the railroad industry, career achievements, demonstrated leadership, professional association activity or community involvement. All the recipients were honored on Sunday, 22 July 2018 in Chicago.

Railway Engineering Educators Symposium

July 2018: The Railway Engineering Educators Symposium (REES) marked its 10th anniversary with a conference on June 26 – 27, 2018 in Columbia, South Carolina. RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, Tyler Dick, was one of the presenters this year as well as at the original symposium on June 9 – 11, 2008 on the University of Illinois campus. REES provides faculty with materials, gives presentations, hosts discussions of the material, and organizes other activities intended to educate the attendees about rail transportation engineering.  This symposium was a direct result of the need for a new generation of capable, well-educated railway engineering professionals to plan, design, build, maintain, and operate the rail transportation system.  REES was so appreciated that in 2015 a Passenger Railway Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES) version was designed to encourage more transit content in existing engineering courses. P-REES and REES are offered in alternating years.

RailTEC Welcomes K-12 Students

STEAM Summer Camp

On Friday 15 June RailTEC faculty and students welcomed 11 students from the Summer STEAMcation camp by Next Generation School. This innovative summer program provides real-world experiences for students in grades 4-6 in the Champaign-Urbana area. Camp the week of June 11 was titled “Zoom Zoom Invent!” and focused on exploring the latest and greatest in transportation and the scientific investigations of transportation technology. On the day the students spent with RailTEC, they focused on railroad planning, construction and safety, as well as investigating the physics of rail transportation. Click here for more pictures. Click here to see our video.

Locomotive Testing Laboratory

Now being decommissioned, most recently the building housed an aeronautical lab complete with a wind tunnel.

June 2018: The old Locomotive Testing Laboratory on campus, originally built in 1912, is slated for demolition this summer due to structural concerns. This once state-of-the-art laboratory was previously a star attraction on campus. The building was recently featured in a News-Gazette column by journalist Tom Kacich. Click here to read the entire article. Current Illinois rail research is conducted at the 3,500 sq. ft. Research And Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) in the Harry Schnabel, Jr. building on the CERL campus, while the administrative offices are in Newmark Lab.

CRRC Visit

Faculty and students from Illinois’ Chinese-American Railway Transportation Joint Research Center

May 2018: Faculty and students from UIUC’s Chinese-American Railway Transportation Joint Research Center (CART-JRC) gathered at the Engineering Hall on May 18, 2018 to welcome a delegation from the CRRC Institute that was led by CRRC Vice President Mr. Bangcheng Sun, and engineers Mr. Yin Tian, Dr. Boge Wen, and Mr. Junen Yi. During the visit, the delegation from rolling stock manufacturer CRRC attended presentations on CRRC-funded railway research projects and toured several research laboratories.  The delegation is pictured with UIUC Provost and Vice Chancellor Andreas Cangellaris along with faculty and students involved in research for CRRC.  During the visit, RailTEC Executive Director and Professor, Christopher Barkan presented an overview of RailTEC’s strong collaborations with the railway industry while Senior Research Engineer Tyler Dick presented updates on his two CRRC-funded railway research projects.  More details on CART-JRC can be found at the center’s website.