News Archive


Congratulations to the RailTEC teaching team of J. Riley Edwards and Conrad Ruppert, Jr. for being ranked as Excellent by their students in the CEE 409 – Railroad Track Engineering course for Fall 2019. These lists are compiled by the University on a semester basis and reflect student ratings of instruction. The ratings are based on Instructor and Course Evaluation (ICES) questionnaire forms maintained by Measurement and Evaluation, Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning. Click here to see a complete listing.

Riley Edwards


Conrad Ruppert, Jr.

Twelve AREMA Scholarships Awarded

Over a third of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) Educational Foundation 2020 scholarships were awarded to RailTEC students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Illinois won 12 of the 34 awarded scholarships. Congratulations to the following Illinois winners: Sina Anesteh, Josue Cesar Bastos, Christopher Bauer, Chung-Lin (James) Chan, Matt Parkes, Isaias Colombani, Camila Pereira Silva, Adrian Diaz de Rivera, Matheus Trizotto, Daniel Holmes, Lee Evans and Geordie Roscoe. 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.



Administrator Batory Visits RailTEC

Ronald L. Batory, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), visited the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday, February 7, 2020. While on campus, he discussed rail education and research through meetings with campus administration, faculty and students, and learned about RailTEC and NURail. Administrator Batory’s William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Seminar was warmly received by approximately 70 attendees. His visit culminated with a tour of RailTEC’s Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) which the FRA helped fund. Administrator Batory is a career professional with more than 45 years of field and system experience in the railroad industry and was nominated in 2017 by President Donald Trump for his current position.

RailTEC participation at 99th Annual TRB Meeting

RailTEC students, faculty and alumni had an impressive showing at the 99th Annual Transportation Research Board meeting on January 12 – 16, 2020 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C. They were referenced over 50 times in the TRB schedule, including 26 authors. Click here for a guide to RailTEC contributions at TRB.

Current RailTEC students at RailTEC’s TRB alumni dinner reception.
TRB session on Precision Scheduled Railroading. Three of the four speakers were affiliated with RailTEC.
(L-R) Alumni Yung-Cheng (Rex) Lai, Tyler Dick (also a current RailTEC employee) and Fernando Moreu.
A portion of the RailTEC faculty, students and alumni at the 99th TRB Annual Meeting in January 2020.
RailTEC alumni, Bryan Sooter, giving his presentation on “Effect of Automatic Train Protection Technologies on Railroad Accident Prevention” with Chen-Yu Lin looking on.
Speaking to a standing room only crowd were (L-R) UI alumni, Michael O’Malley, President of the Railway Supply Institute, and Avery Grimes, Patriot Rail Co. They were on the 2020 TRB panel titled “The Future of North American Freight Rail Transportation”.
RailTEC website homepage photo collage

RailTEC Receives 2019 NRC Educational Grant

Each year the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association’s (NRC) Education Committee allows colleges and universities with rail education programs to apply for the NRC Educational Grant Program. After receiving a record number of applications, the NRC Education Committee selected RailTEC as one of its two 2019 recepients. NRC said that both RailTEC and the other winner, Michigan Technological University, “displayed exemplary educational programs, and showcased how their respective programs not only educate the next generation, but also how they prepare the students for industry advancements”. As a grant recipient, Tyler Dick was invited to attend the 2020 NRC conference in San Diego on January 5 – 8 to represent RailTEC and speak on railway education and outreach activities. Click here to read the NRC grant announcement.

FRA Director Allahyar Hosted by RailTEC

RailTEC hosted Dr. Maryam Allahyar, Director, Office of Research, Development & Technology, Federal Railroad Administration on December 5, 2019. Dr. Allahyar received an overview of both RailTEC and the National University Rail (NURail) Center, visited the graduate students office to learn about their individual research, and was briefed on RailTEC and affiliated faculty research. In addition, she toured the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) and was given an overview of infrastructure research being conducted there.

Former RailTEC Student Selected for Young Alumnus Achievement Award

Dr. Xiang Liu

RailTEC is pleased to announce that Dr. Xiang Liu, a RailTEC alumnus, has been selected to receive the 2020 Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association Young Alumnus Achievement Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize professional accomplishments or unique contributions to society of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil and Environmental Engineering graduates. Dr. Liu will be recognized on Thursday, 12 March 2020 at the CEE Chicago Alumni Dinner at the Union League Club in Chicago. He received his PhD from Illinois in December 2013 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rutgers University.

Successful PhD Defense

From Left to Right: Dr. Ray Benekohal (Illinois/CEE), Dr. Christopher Barkan (Illinois/CEE), Brandon Wang, Dr. Rapik Saat (American Association of Railroads) with Dr. Feng Liang (Illinois/Statistics) on the laptop.


Brandon Wang, a RailTEC graduate student, successfully defended his PhD dissertation on Friday, 8 November. It was titled “Quantitative Analyses of Freight Train Derailments”. Brandon was advised by Professor and George Krambles Faculty Fellow Dr. Christopher Barkan. Also on his committee were Dr. Ray Benekohal (Illinois/CEE), Dr. Rapik Saat (American Association of Railroads) and Dr. Feng Liang (Illinois/Statistics). Congratulations, Brandon!

21st Railroad Environmental Conference

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The 21st Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC) was held on October 22-23, 2019 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Over 500 registered attendees had the opportunity to hear 65 thought-provoking presentations by railroaders, consulting engineers, academics and others involved in all aspects of railroad environmental topics. There were also 25 poster presentations and 56 exhibitors. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) awarded the 2019 North American Environmental Employee Excellence Award to Brian Zacker, an environmental field services senior manager at CSX. AAR’s award recognizes leading contributions to environmental responsibility and excellence in the industry, and is considered the highest honor for rail industry environmental professionals. Mark your calendars now for the 22nd annual RREC conference, which will be held on October 27-28, 2020.

2019 Railroad Environmental Conference

Railway Interchange 2019

RailTEC faculty, staff and students attended the Railway Interchange (RI) conference on September 22 – 25, 2019 in Minneapolis, MN. Between the faculty, student and alumni presentations at the event, RailTEC had representation in every AREMA session on Monday and Tuesday of the conference. Graduate student Tom Roadcap gave a presentation on “Field Experience and Academic Inquiry to Understand Broken Spike Failures in Railroad Fastening Systems” while research engineer Arthur Lima talked about “Fatigue Performance Characterization of Direct Fixation Systems Under Heavy Rail Transit Loading Conditions”.  RailTEC students competed in the student quiz bowl where Illinois teams took two out of the top four spots. Students also attended the poster competition as well as networked with people and companies involved in the rail industry. RI is the largest railway exhibition and technical conference in North America and is attended by nearly 9,000 rail industry professionals from around the globe.

Adrian Diaz de Rivera (center) puzzles over the answer to a question in the Student Quiz Bowl. Teammates Tom Roadcap (left) and Daniel Holmes (right) look on.
Arthur Lima giving his presentation on Tuesday, September 24.
Camila Pereira talking with an industry representative at AREMA’s Meet the Next Generation Event at the Railway Interchange conference.