News Archive

RailTEC Awarded BRIDGE Grant

RailTEC Professor and George Krambles Director Christopher P.L. Barkan and Postdoctoral Research Associate Chen-Yu Lin were recently awarded a BRIDGE Seed Fund initiation grant for their project titled “Creation of An International Benchmark and Index for Railway Safety”.  The main objective of this project is to develop a common safety evaluation index for different railway systems so that safety performance can be evaluated and compared, starting with a cross-Atlantic comparison between the United States and the United Kingdom and ultimately extending to other countries’ railway systems. The indexing system will be composed of two elements – the first being a measure of the transparency/availability of data, and the second will be a weighted measure of safety derived from the data that is publicly available.

The BRIDGE (BiRmingham-lllinois Partnership for Discovery, EnGagement and Education) Seed Fund was founded by the University of Birmingham and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in March 2014. This alliance created a framework for continued collaboration and investment to grow a strategic partnership between the two institutions and is available to support planning visits, workshops, and exchanges with the partner for the purpose of developing the collaboration. Initiation grants encourage wider faculty involvement and expand institutional engagement.

RailTEC Alumnus Named to THSRC Board

RailTEC alumnus, Yung-Cheng (Rex) Lai, was recently invited to be an Independent Director for the Board of Directors at Taiwan High Speed Rail Company (THSRC).  Rex received his MS (Civil Engineering, 2004) and his PhD (Civil Engineering, 2008) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after earning his BS from National Taiwan University. He is currently a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at National Taiwan University and a professor in their Railway Technology Research Center. THSRC manages Taiwan’s high-speed railway that runs approximately 217 miles along the west coast from the capital, Taipei, to the southern city of Kaohsiung at a top speed of 186 mph. It opened for service in 2007.

RailTEC Alums Publish Article in Trains Magazine

Zezhou, Jake and Tom inside the Xi’an North high speed rail station.
Zezhou, Tom and Jake outside of the Xi’an main train station.

Three RailTEC alumni, Tom Roadcap, Jake Branson and Zezhou Wang, have collaborated on their first Trains magazine article. The article discusses the world’s last revenue steam railroad operation, which is dedicated to hauling coal out of deep pit mines in the Gobi Desert. It is found in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, outside a small desert mining town called Sandaoling. Unfortunately the mine does not expect to be open that much longer and, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, our alumni may have been some of the last foreigners to visit. To read their article, click here.

Scholarship Winners

Xinhao Liu
Matthew Parkes

Xinhao Liu and Matthew Parkes are winners of two of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering 2020 scholarship awards.

Xinhao Liu received the CN Railway Transportation Scholarship. This scholarship was established in 2018 to encourage and support student excellence in rail engineering and is presented to an outstanding engineering student on the basis of leadership, scholastic performance, and demonstrated accomplishments and interest in railroad transportation at Illinois. It was created as part of CN’s support for RailTEC’s educational programs.

The Norman Carlson Scholarship Fund went to Matthew Parkes.  Established in 2005, the Carlson Scholarship encourages students to pursue careers in the rail industry. Carlson graduated from the UIUC College of Commerce and Business Administration in 1964, has spent his career in service to the railroad industry, and has written and published extensively on the history and technology of railways. Congratulations to both students!

RailTEC COVID-19 Update

While the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily adjusted how people are working, RailTEC faculty, staff and students are continuing to focus on what they do best – education, research and service. From converting desktops to workbenches, re-purposing kitchen tables to office desks, to teaching class to an empty room full of virtual students, we are applying innovate ways to continue to inspire student interest in rail while meeting the needs of our research sponsors. Stay well and we’re looking forward to reconnecting in person when safe to do so. In the meantime, feel free to contact any of our employees via email or by phone.

Chris Barkan
Adrian Diaz de Rivera
Christian Khachaturian
Tyler Dick


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.


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.