RailTEC at TRB
January 2019: RailTEC faculty, students and alumni will attend the 98th Annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 13 – 17, 2019. This group will have a strong presence at the conference with 37 presentations, 3 session chairs, 4 committee chairs and 18 committee members. Professor Christopher Barkan will be appointed an Emeritus Member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee AR000 Rail Group. Click here to see our guide to RailTEC presentations at TRB.
RailTEC Graduate Student Wins Second in Poster Contest
University of Illinois RailTEC systems group faculty and students recently attended the 2018 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix AZ where Tyler Dick, Wesley Chen, Stan Chang and Adrian Diaz de Rivera all presented their current railway simulation research projects. Adrian Diaz de Rivera won second place in the 2018 INFORMS Railway Applications Section Student Poster Contest for his poster entitled “Line Capacity and Performance of North American Freight Railway Lines Under Advanced PTC”. The team of Mohammad Amin Nabian, Negin Alemazkoor and Hadi Meidani won second place (out of 40 teams) in the 2018 INFORMS Railway Applications Section Problem Solving Competition for using bi-level random forests to predict passenger train delay.
RISEN Scholars Present Hay Seminar
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.
2018 RailTEC Short Course
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.
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. To see photos of the building during the last walk through, please click The building was recently featured in a News-Gazette column by journalist Tom Kacich. Click here to read his article.
Fourth RailTEC alum named “Rising Star”
July 2018: 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
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.
Locomotive Testing Laboratory
Formally dedicated in 1913, this lab was one of three research facilities in the U.S. at the time.
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.
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 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 .
2018 International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium
Attendees of the Symposium listen to Riley Edwards, RailTEC Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer, give his welcome and safety briefing.
May 2018: The 2018 International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium on May 15 – 17, 2018 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was bigger and better than previous symposiums. Over 150 attendees represented 11 countries and 26 states. The objective of the symposium was to further international communication and collaboration on design and performance challenges and solutions for crossties and fastening systems. The symposium included technical presentations, research discussion topics and technical tours that focused on the state of the art in timber, concrete, steel, and composite crosstie and fastening system design, performance, research, modeling, and inspection.
RailTEC at JRC
Pictured: Senior Research Engineer, Conrad Ruppert, Jr., and graduate student, Yubing Liang.
April 2018: RailTEC faculty and students attended the 2018 Joint Rail Conference (JRC) in Pittsburgh, PA on April 18 – 20. In addition to current and former RailTEC faculty and students giving almost 30 presentations, they also held four of the ten Technical Program Committee spots, four of the 11 Organizing and Planning Committee seats, and were three of the Track Organizers. JRC is an international conference and the premier technical event in the U.S.A. including all disciplines for freight and passenger rail transportation; mechanical, electrical, civil, and systems engineering, as well as rail safety, planning, design, manufacturing, financing, operations, and management. Please click here to see photos from the event.
RailTEC Student Wins Fulbright Award
April 2018: RailTEC Graduate Research Assistant Tom Roadcap was recently awarded a prestigious Fulbright Research Award. Fulbrighters have the opportunity to meet, work, live with, and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, and at home. Tom’s work will be carried out at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) under the guidance of Professor Stephan Freudenstein, and will focus on railroad track infrastructure research. During the 8-10 month study period Tom will live in Munich, Germany and will attend lectures at TUM and build relationships in academia and within the European rail industry.
CEE Awards Convocation 2018 RailTEC Winners
Pictured with Professor and RailTEC Executive Director Chris Barkan are (l-r) Weixi Li, Geordie Roscoe and Jasmine Munoz.
April 2018: Congratulations to the four RailTEC students who were awarded University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil and Environmental Engineering honors this year at the CEE Awards Convocation on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. The winners are:
Weixi Li – Charles E. DeLeuw Travel Award. (Enables an outstanding civil engineering student to inspect urban public transportation systems in foreign countries.)
Jasmine Munoz – Norman Carlson Scholarship. (Encourages students to pursue careers in the rail industry.)
Andi Li – Wayne C. Teng Scholarship. (Demonstrates potential strength for defining and solving a wide range of civil engineering problems.)
Geordie Roscoe – CN Railway Transportation Scholarship. (Encourages and supports student excellence in rail engineering.)
Ballast research highlighted in RT&S
April 2018: Illinois ballast research was recently highlighted in the March 2018 issue of Railway Track & Structures (RT&S) Magazine. Supported through AAR’s Technology Outreach research program, this research developed a new approach to inspecting railroad ballast and measuring its condition in the field. This innovative technique uses cross-section digital images of ballast and a machine vision system to measure the size of ballast particles and estimate ballast degradation. Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI) performed investigative field work at their Facility for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST) near Pueblo, CO. Click here to read the article.
RailTEC Students Awarded AREMA Scholarships
March 2018: The AREMA Educational Foundation recently announced the winners of their 2018 scholarships. Twelve of the 32 AREMA scholarships given went to students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The scholarships won by Illinois students this year collectively total over $36,000. The winners are:
Josue Cesar Bastos
Arthur de Oliveira Lima
Ricardo J. Quiros Orozco
Thomas A. Roadcap
Bryan C. Sooter (online MS student)
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!
Excellent RailTEC Teachers
March 2018: Congratulations are in store for the three RailTEC instructors who taught classes in Fall 2017. Chris Barkan (CEE 408 – Railroad Transportation Engineering), Tyler Dick (CEE 598 – Railway Terminal Design and Operations) and Conrad Ruppert, Jr. (CEE 409 – Railroad Track Engineering) were all rated as excellent or outstanding on the University of Illinois’ “List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students“. These lists are compiled 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.
RailTEC Visiting Scholar
Chris Barkan (L) with visiting scholar Hiroto Sunahara (R)
March 2018: RailTEC is honored to have Hiroto Sunahara, an employee of Central Japan Railway Company (JRC), as a visiting scholar for the 2017 – 2018 academic year. Mr. Sunahara is an Assistant Manager with the Construction Department, Civil Engineering Section, in their Tokyo office. JRC has a plan to construct a new HSR line between Tokyo and Osaka, and to introduce a superconducting maglev system as a passenger line. In an effort to reduce construction and operation costs, JRC is developing a new method of maintaining this huge infrastructure while still securing soundness and boosting efficiency. While in the United States, Hiroto is researching ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and IoT (Internet of Things) for potential use of this technology at JRC.
RailTEC Student Wins Gold Spike
February 2018: Bryan Sooter, an online RailTEC MS student, received a 2017 Gold Spike as part of a team award presented to Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) train dispatchers. The press release from ARRC stated the dispatchers received the award for their “sustained level of excellent performance and team-driven professional development”. These annual awards recognize ARRC’s top employees who demonstrate the railroad’s values of safety, service excellence, integrity, sustainability, teamwork and leadership.
RailTEC Welcomes New Employee
February 2018: RailTEC is excited to announce that Arthur de Oliveira Lima has joined their staff. As an Experimentation Engineer, Arthur will be managing laboratory and field experimentation relating to ballast mats, under tie pads, crossties and fasteners, and other track infrastructure related components. He has his BS in Civil Engineering from Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil and received his MS in Civil Engineering from Illinois in December 2017.
Historic Gathering of Presidents
February 2018: On February 1, in conjunction with a visit by BNSF, five AREMA Student Chapter presidents were in attendance at the first student chapter meeting of the year. Flanked by AREMA Student Chapter Advisor, Tyler Dick and Professor Chris Barkan, shown in order of their presidency from left to right: Brennan Caughron, Bill Lygiros (both now with BNSF), Tom Roadcap, outgoing president Nao Nishio, and incoming president Jake Branson. Jake was sworn in according to tradition by taking the oath of office with his hand on William Hay’s textbook, Railroad Engineering (also in photo).
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
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
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
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
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.
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 traveling 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 receive a copy of our IHHA conference booklet, send an email to RailTEC-Central@illinois.edu. 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
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
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
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
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 Opne 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 Engineering
February 2017: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has had a long and distinguished history of railroad engineering. Above are a few pictures from the University of Illinois Archives dating from the 1910’s that show the first early railroad lab on campus. For additional photos, click here.
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.
Rail Infrastructure and Vehicle Inspection Technology Conference Announced
December 2016: A new Rail Infrastructure and Vehicle Inspection Technology (RIVIT) Conference will be held on 20-21 June 2017 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Its 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. Topic areas include: Infrastructure, Rolling Stock, Technologies, Analytics including both Freight and Passenger & Transit. Technical tours for attendees will include viewing inspection vehicles, tour test laboratories and visit rail-related manufacturing facilities. The conference will provide ample time to meet and engage in discussions with experts in the field. Exhibitor and supporter opportunities will be available. The call for abstracts has been announced and are due by 3 February 2017.
Chadwick named 2016 NURail Student of the Year
December 2016: Two students were selected as the 2016 NURail Student of the Year. Samantha Chadwick, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) PhD student, received this award for Grant DTRT12-G-UTC18, and Steven Landry, a Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) PhD student, was the winner under Grant DTRT13-G-UTC52. As recipients of this award, they will receive an honorarium from NURail in recognition of their outstanding technical research, record of publications and presentation, academic performance, and professional leadership plus the cost of attendance to the 96th TRB Annual Meeting, two free registrations to the CUTC Banquet, and a certificate from US DOT. To read more about Sam and Steve, click here.
IDOT Secretary Visits RAIL
December 2016: Mr. Randy Blankenhorn, Secretary of Transportation for the State of Illinois, was the guest speaker for the UIUC Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers on Thursday, December 1, 2016. In addition to speaking to the students, Mr. Blankenhorn took the time to visit RailTEC’s Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL). Riley Edwards, RailTEC Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer, said, “We were excited and honored to have Secretary Blankenhorn visit RAIL. We had a very productive conversation, and he seemed very interested in the types of research questions that we are answering at RAIL. As a part of our tour, we also discussed rail-related challenges and research needs going forward specific to the state of Illinois.”
November 2016: RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, C. Tyler Dick, is co-editor of the latest issue of the INFORMS Railway Applications Section (RAS) Newsletter. RAS helps advance the application of operations research and analytics to railroad problems. In addition to an update from RAS, an agenda for the Nashville meeting and a problem solving competition, the 2016 newsletter contains articles Tyler wrote about the National University Rail (NURail) Center, K-12 STEM Outreach and Local Versus Global Optimums. Click here to read the newsletter.
Record Numbers for RREC
November 2016: The 18th Annual Railroad Environmental Conference, held November 1–2 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, was a resounding success. This two day conference had over 70 presentations and 542 people registered – a new conference record! The participants that came the farthest to attend travelled from Germany. Among the changes this year was a new conference mobile app. Almost half of the attendees signed up and used the app which allowed them to view the conference agenda, create their own agenda of sessions to attend, post photos and messages to the conference bulletin board, and exchange business card information electronically. Mark your calendars now for the 19th Annual conference which will be held on October 24 – 25, 2017.
RISEN Newsletter Discusses Visit
November 2016: Page 2 of the Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering Network (RISEN) newsletter discusses University of Birmingham Senior Lecturer in Railway and Civil Engineering, Dr. Sakdirat Kaewunruen, visit to RailTEC in August. Dr. Kaewunruen was quoted as saying “From my own experience at UIUC, I am extremely impressed at their willingness to help and their laboratory facilities. I am very sure you will be impressed too.” More information on RailTEC’s expertise and research interests will be highlighted on the RISEN website in coming weeks. RISEN is a four year project that aims to produce the next generation of engineers and scientists needed to meet the challenge of providing sustainable, smart and resilient railway infrastructure systems critical for maintaining European competitiveness through research exchange, joint research supervision, summer courses, international training and workshops, and joint development of innovative inventions.
AAR’s 2016 Environmental Excellence Award
November 2016: Russ McDaniel of Norfolk Southern (NS) received the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Professional Environmental Excellence Award at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s 18th Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC) on Wednesday, November 2. This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding performance in environmental awareness and responsibility during the year and is the highest honor for environmental professionals in the railroad industry. McDaniel was one of eight railroad industry professionals nominated for the 2016 Professional Environmental Excellence Award. Click here for the entire Railway Age article.
RailTEC to be featured on “Great American Railroad Journeys”
Oct. 2016: BBC’s “Great American Railroad Journeys” series host Michael Portillo traveled to Champaign on 23 September to film part of the series’ second season. 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 photos from their visit.
Portillo has been using an 1879 copy of Appleton’s Guidebook to the railroads of the United States and Canada, and is traveling across the U.S. by train, making stops at important historical sites and learning about influential historical events and famous Americans. In Season 1 of this travel documentary series, Portillo travel down the East coast from Niagara Falls to Jamestown, Virginia. This season he is on a journey from St. Louis, MO to the Grand Canyon. Season 2 will debut in the UK in early 2017 after which the BBC will open up the series to other networks. Last season’s episodes may be watched on YouTube.
Postdoc Opportunity in High Speed Rail
Oct 2016: This opportunity creates a rich potential for world leading research to contribute to the knowledge of high speed rail and to influence the decision makers of the future. The “Birmingham-Illinois Partnership for Discovery, Engagement and Education” (BRIDGE) Fellowship program brings together international research teams in the UK and USA to recruit high-potential, early-career researchers to contribute to the research and academic excellence of both institutions across four key areas. One of these key areas is international high speed rail. The successful applicant will work in two of the world’s leading centers for research into railways; Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham and the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Applications due November 7. For additional information, please click here.
Sept 2016: Congratulations to Chen-Yu Lin, the winner of a 2016 Frank J. Richter Scholarship. This award is given annually by the American Association of Railroad Superintendents (AARS). The winners are evaluated on past transcripts, activities and honors, academic contributions (publications) and letters of recommendation. RailTEC has had five other students receive this scholarship.
Trespassing: A RR Safety Issue
Sept 2016: In her September 18 article Mary Wisniewski, the transportation reporter and Getting Around columnist for the Chicago Tribune, quoted Chris Barkan, Professor and Executive Director of RailTEC. The article discusses how trespassing has become the top railroad safety issue and how Pokémon GO is the latest hazard. As part of their safety research, Dr. Barkan challenged his students to come up with ideas to include in the Pokémon app that would discourage trespassing and encourage safe behavior at grade crossings. The article mentions that one of the suggestions by the students was that Pokémon GO players should lose a cartoon “buddy” if they trespass near tracks. Click here to read the article.
Barkan Receives Educator Award
Sept 2016: In her September 18 article Mary Wisniewski, the transportation reporter and Getting Around columnist for the Chicago Tribune, quoted Chris Barkan, Professor and Executive Director of RailTEC. The article discusses how trespassing has become the top railroad safety issue and how Pokémon GO is the latest hazard. As part of their safety research, Dr. Barkan challenged his students to come up with ideas to include in the Pokémon app that would discourage trespassing and encourage safe behavior at grade crossings. The article mentions that one of the suggestions by the students was that Pokémon GO players should lose a cartoon “buddy” if they trespass near tracks. Click here to read the article.
2016 AREMA Conference
Sept 2016: Approximately 50 students from NURail partner universities pose with (front row, center) Mike Franke (Amtrak), Mary Hay (daughter of William W. Hay) and Chris Barkan (Executive Director of RailTEC) on August 29, 2016 in Orlando, FL at the AREMA conference. In addition to attending technical sessions and giving poster presentations, many students worked the NURail booth in the exhibition hall. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s (NURail’s lead university) two teams scored first and second in the AREMA “Student Quiz Bowl” competition. The match consisted of four rounds of questions related to railroad engineering, operations, history and trivia. For photos from the event and a listing of presentations from current RailTEC students, RailTEC alumni and NURail related papers, click here.
Fostering Future Railroaders
Aug 2016: In the August 2016 issue of Railway Track & Structures (RT&S), AREMA President Brian A. Lindamood discusses in his monthly column the importance of viewing employees as a company asset and making the investment of time to foster the development of the generation of future railroaders. Brian also mentions attending The Railway Academic Conference (TRAC), a combination of the Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) and the NURail Annual Meeting, held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus in July. Click here to read the article.
RailTEC Welcomes K-12 Students
Aug 2016: On Wednesday, August 3 RailTEC faculty and students welcomed 21 students from the Next Generation School STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Summer Camp. This innovative summer program provides real-world experiences for students in grades 3-5 in the Champaign-Urbana area. Camp the week of August 1 was titled “STEAMventions” and focused on some of the most important inventions of the past century from steam engine trains to nanotechnology. On the day the students spent on campus, they focused on railroad planning, construction and safety, as well as investigating the physics of rail transportation. Click here for more pictures. For companion articles about this event please click here:
RailTEC Students Visit MetroLink
July 2016: On 29 July 2016 the RailTEC Infrastructure Research Group visited St. Louis for meetings with St. Louis MetroLink – the St. Louis area rail transit provider. The visit included a ride on MetroLink from Belleville, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri, and a tour of the MetroLink control center and mechanical repair facility. As a part of the visit, MetroLink’s Chief of Operations presented an update on their system, and RailTEC researchers presented the latest findings related to the design and performance of rail transit infrastructure, work funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
July 2016: Congratulations to RailTEC graduate student, Darkhan Mussanov, on being selected as a recipient for one of CN’s 2016 scholarships. CN’s scholarship program offers grants to support the post-secondary education of best-in-class students in the United States. Darkhan completed his undergraduate degree in CEE at UIUC in May 2016 and will be returning to campus this fall to continue his studies and pursue research related to railway operational schedule flexibility and capacity.
RailTEC Alumni Honored
July 2016: The third RailTEC alumni to receive this award, M. Rapik Saat, a former RailTEC Research Assistant Professor who is currently working for the Association of American Railroads as their Director of Operations Analysis, was honored on Sunday, July 24, as one of the railroad industry’s “Rising Stars” by Progressive Railroading magazine. This award recognizes people under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in the North American railroad industry. Rapik was chosen as one of 20 award winners out of nearly 140 nominees. This year’s honorees were chosen based on their contributions to the railroad industry, career achievements, demonstrated leadership, professional association activity or community involvement. Rapik received the recognition during the annual conference of the American Association of Railroad Superintendents in Pittsburgh. To read the ProgressiveRailroading.com article click here.
TRAC Conference a Hit
The Railway Academic Conference (TRAC) was held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus on July 12 – 14, 2016. Eighty attendees participated in this three-day event, with REES activities and the NURail Annual Meeting each comprising half of the program. Building on similar goals and objectives, TRAC further informed educators, industry professionals, and students about current developments in railroad engineering education, workforce development and outreach programs. To see additional photos of the event, click here.
2016 International Crosstie Symposium
June 2016: The 2016 International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium on June 14 – 16, 2016 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was a huge success. Over 130 attendees represented 8 countries and 25 states. The objective of the symposium was to further international communication and collaboration on design and performance challenges and solutions for crossties and fastening systems. The symposium included technical presentations, research discussion topics and technical tours. Click here to see the presentations. For more photos of the conference, click here.
June 2016: Three UIUC faculty and staff and two alumni attended the 11th World Congress on Railway Research in Milan, Italy to present papers, posters and chair sessions. From left to right are Ken Laine (alumnus) – Transportation Technology Center, Inc., Chris Barkan – UIUC, Matt Csenge – UIUC, Marcus Dersch – UIUC and Yung-Cheng (Rex) Lai (alumnus) – National Taiwan University.
CEE410 Field Visit
May 2016: On Saturday, April 30 the CEE410 class (Railway Signaling and Control) visited the Norfolk Southern RR Illinois Division HQ and train dispatching center. Students had the opportunity to meet train dispatchers and observe the dispatching hardware and software Norfolk Southern uses to control train movements safely and efficiently through much of the Midwest. For additional pictures, click here.
RailTEC Alumni Reunite
April 2016: Three RailTEC alumni, each employed by Vossloh Fastening Systems but working in three different continents, were in Werhohl, Germany for an international training and innovation workshop. From left to right are Brandon Van Dyk (May ’14), Amogh Shurpali (December ’12) and Thiago Bizarria do Carmo (May ’14). This photo was taken during a mountain hike near their training site.
RailTEC Alumni Interviewed
April 2016: The Winter 2016 issue of the Penn State Altoona magazine, Ivy Leaf, features an eight page article about their new Rail Transportation Engineering (RTE) program. Established in 2011, the program graduated its first class in May 2015. One of the RTE instructors is Bryan Schlake who was a RailTEC grad student and graduated from UIUC in December 2010. Hai Huang, who received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from UIUC in 2009, is one of RTE’s Co-Coordinators. Penn State Altoona is a NURail Affiliate Member and is the first and only college in the country to offer a bachelor of science degree in rail transportation engineering. Click here to read the article.
UP’s RR Engineering Field Day
June 2016 update: Union Pacific recently published a video about the University Field Day at Villa Grove featuring RailTEC/AREMA students from UIUC and students from Purdue. Click the link below to watch the 1.5 minute clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqOGVnngSJ8
April 2016: Union Pacific Railroad hosted a railroad engineering field day on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the UP Railyard in Villa Grove, IL. The theme was “Big machines. Bigger projects. Unlimited opportunity.” RailTEC students learned about career opportunities in railway engineering and met the people and machines that keep the rail network running. To see additional field day photos, click here.
CEE411 Field Visit
April 2016: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s CEE 411 class (titled Railroad Project Planning and Design) traveled to Chicago on Saturday April 9, 2016 to visit CSX’s Bedford Park facility. This class focuses on the planning, design, and construction management of large capital projects. As a part of the field visit they toured Bedford Park to see what a large capital project looks like once it is constructed and operational. This provided a firsthand close up loop at an operational project and allowed the students to ask questions that were fielded by Matt Hiller of CSX Intermodal.
Engineering Open House Visitors
March 2016: 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 12. 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. In addition to a short rail lecture and demonstration by Tyler Dick, NURail’s Assistant Director for Education and Workforce Development, Hanson’s group of 16 students and 9 adults spent the day examining a portion of the over 250 interactive exhibits on display. For more photos of EOH and the Hanson visitors, click here.
Rapik Saat named “Rising Star”
March 2016: RailTEC Research Assistant Professor, Rapik Saat, has been selected by Progressive Railroading Magazine for their “Rising Stars” award . The Rising Stars program recognizes people under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in railroading through their company, organization, department or team. Rising Stars are viewed by others as up-and-coming leaders in the railroad industry. Rapik will be honored on July 24, 2016 at the AAR Superintendents’ 2016 Annual Meeting. This is the second year in a row where a RailTEC faculty member has received this honor. Last year Riley Edwards, RailTEC Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer, received the award.
RailTEC Students’ Photo in RT&S
March 2016: An RT&S article on March 23, 2016 titled “CN Continues Safety Innovation Program with Technology Investments” featured a picture of RailTEC students visiting CN’s Track Evaluation System Train. The article discusses how CN has launched its third year of the Safety Innovation Program, which is part of the railroad’s broader safety agenda that is focused on enhancing the safety of operations. The students visited the train on Sunday, February 14, 2016 when it was in Champaign, IL.
Students Awarded CEE Scholarships
March 2016: Congratulations go out to the eight RailTEC students who have been awarded University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil and Environmental Engineering scholarships this year. The winners are:
Norm Carlson Award:
DeLeuw Travel Award:
Ira O. Baker Prize – 2nd Place Winner:
Melih T. Dural Undergrad Research Prize:
Union Pacific Scholarships:
Camila Pereira Silva
Moreland Herrin Award:
Illinois Receives Twelve AREMA Scholarships
February 2016: The AREMA Educational Foundation announced its 2016 Scholarship Winners and twelve Illinois students are recipients. The winners this year are: Phanuwat Kaewpanya, Frederick Kippen, III, Chen-Yu Lin, Xiao Lin, Alexander Lovett, Vassilios Lygiros, Darkhan Mussanov, Sean Pengelly, Manuel Martin Ramos, Thomas Roadcap, Scott Schmidt and Paul Shih. AREMA had a record number of scholarship applications this year and Illinois had a record number of scholarship winners. For a complete list of names and their awarded scholarships, click here. Congratulations to all!
Blast from the past
RailTEC remembers CN’s Little Obie visit to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus on August 4, 2014 with this recently created video. Little Obie was here to educate the public about railway safety during the Global Level Crossing Safety &Trespass Prevention Symposium (GLXS).
CN Railway TEST Tour
February 2016: On Sunday, February 14th, a dozen RailTEC faculty and students toured the new CN Railway Track Evaluation System Train (TEST) while it was in Champaign, IL. The new test train measures track geometry and gage restraint while capturing video images of the track structure. RailTEC alum Kevin Day, CN Assistant Chief Engineer, Technology, Testing and Standards was instrumental in development of the new TEST train.
RailTEC at TRB
January 2016: RailTEC students, faculty and alumni had a strong showing at the 95th Annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, DC on January 10-14, 2016. They were referenced over 80 times in the session schedule. Click here for a guide to RailTEC presentations or session chairs. In addition, RailTEC received two awards. Alexander Lovett, a graduate research assistant, received the NURail Center 2015 Student of the Year award at the CUTC Awards Banquet while Dr. Chris Barkan and Dr. Rapik Saat received an Outstanding Contribution Award for their article on Probability analysis of multiple-tank-car release in railway hazardous materials transportation.
RailTEC/NURail Highlighted by DOT Assistant Secretary Winfree
Gregory Winfree, Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology for the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), acknowledged RailTEC and the NURail Center when he reflected on 2015’s transportation research and educational accomplishments in his December 31 Fastlane blog post. He described four examples of how USDOT is having an impact advancing safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability through new opportunities for cooperative transportation research and innovation. Among these were the USDOT-supported University Transportation Center program in general and RailTEC and the NURail Center in particular, citing their role educating the next generation of transportation professionals through world-class research and facilities. Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary Winfree participated in the grand opening of RailTEC’s new Research and Innovation Lab (RAIL). Railway Track and Structures also published an article about Winfree’s DOT Fastlane blog.
RailTEC Energy Efficiency Research Published
The final report of the National Cooperative Rail Research Program (NCRRP) Project 02-01, Comparison of Passenger Rail Energy Consumption with Competing Modes, has been published by TRB. RailTEC played a key role in this research as a subcontractor to TranSys Research Ltd. NCRRP Report 3 provides tools that can be used to compare energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of intercity and commuter passenger rail with those of competing travel modes for door-to-door trips within a corridor. The report also summarizes the research conducted to develop the model and presents a set of case study applications covering various passenger rail corridors in the United States. The project report, supporting files and a brief summary description can be found here.
CN Research Fellowship Recipients
December 2015: David Ferryman, Vice President – Engineering for CN visited the UIUC campus on November 20 to tour the new RailTEC Research and Innovation Lab (RAIL), present the William Hay Seminar on CN’s Steelton Hill double-track capacity expansion project, and to acknowledge and congratulate the latest recipients of CN Research Fellowships at UIUC. He was accompanied by UIUC CEE alumnus Kevin Day, who is Assistant Chief Engineer with CN’s Engineering Department, and Marie Penuel who is a Recruiter with CN Human Resources.
UIUC CN Research Fellowships are awarded to outstanding students engaged in rail transportation and engineering research. They are intended to encourage and support graduate student research to advance rail safety, efficiency and reliability. These fellowships are supported by an endowment provided to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by the CN Foundation in 2003 and matched by the University.
Fall 2015 Hay Seminars
December 2015: The last two Hay Seminar Series presentations of the semester were given by David Ferryman, Vice-President System Engineering at CN, and Dr. TC Kao, Research Professor & Director – High Speed Rail System with RailTEC. Mr. Ferryman’s presentation, on Friday, November 20, 2015, was titled “CN’s Steelton Hill Double Track Project”. Before his presentation, Mr. Ferryman presented CN Fellowship Awards to four RailTEC students. Dr. Kao gave an update on the current status of Taiwan’s high speed rail privatization on December 4. To listen to a recording of either presentation, click here .
Outstanding Contribution Award
December 2015: Published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials in 2014, the research paper titled, “Probability analysis of multiple-tank-car release in railway hazardous materials transportation” was selected as the winner of the 2016 TRB Committee on Transportation of Hazardous Materials (AT040) Outstanding Contribution Award. This article was written by the research team of Dr. Xiang Liu (Rutgers), Dr. Rapik Saat and Dr. Chris Barkan and was nominated by their peers. The purpose of this award is to formally recognize outstanding achievement in hazardous materials transportation research, innovation, regulation, or management. Awards are granted on an annual basis and presented to awardees at the TRB annual meeting during the Committee on the Transportation of Hazardous Materials meeting. This year the award will be presented on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Student of the Year Announced
December 2015: The NURail Center has announced its 2015 Student of the Year. The winner is Alexander Lovett, a RailTEC graduate research assistant, who is working on a joint MBA-PhD. Alexander has been active in research with RailTEC since starting his MS program in Fall 2011 and has been supported by NURail since 2012. His research on better planning and scheduling railway track maintenance addresses a key concern as higher-speed passenger trains operate more frequently on the same track infrastructure as heavy-axe-load freight trains. He will be honored at the CUTC Awards Banquet in Washington, DC in January 2016. Congratulations, Alexander!
RailTEC hosts AREMA Committees
November 2015: RailTEC hosted AREMA Committee 2 (Track Measurement Systems) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on November 10 – 11, 2015. Approximately 35 members met for meetings as well as a tour of RailTEC’s Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) located in the Harry Schnabel, Jr. building on the CERL campus. This was a busy year for RailTEC as they hosted three different AREMA committee meetings on the Illinois campus. Besides Committee 2, Committee 16 (Economics of Railway Engineering & Operations) met in April and Committee 13 (Engineering Services Functional Group) met in October in correlation with the Railroad Environmental Conference.
The Railway Academic Conference (TRAC)
November 2015: The Railway Academic Conference (TRAC) will be held at UIUC on July 12 – 14, 2016 to build on synergy between the AREMA Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) event and National University Rail (NURail) Center education and workforce development initiatives. TRAC will be a three-day event, with REES activities and the NURail Annual Meeting each comprising half of the program. Building on similar goals and objectives, TRAC will further inform educators, industry professionals, and students about current developments in railroad engineerin education, workforce development and outreach programs. Through the REES component, TRAC will facilitate sharing of education materials designed to introduce students to railway infrastructure, operations, engineering, and design concepts. By combining these activities, TRAC aims to strengthen collaboration between academia and industry to meet the challenge of developing the next generation of railroad professionals.
First Place at INFORMS Competition
November 2015: Congratulations to the Illinois team of Negin Alemazkoor, Hadi Meidani and Conrad Ruppert for their first place finish in the 2015 INFORMS Railway Applications Section Problem Solving Competition. It was a very close decision between the University of Illinois team and the other two finalists from India and Columbia. The deciding factor was that the Illinois approach yielded the best solution results while using a simpler model formulation than the other two finalists. The judges also felt that in selecting their approach the Illinois team carefully considered the physical track degradation process from an engineering perspective instead of randomly trying exotic OR techniques.
BNSF-UP Tower 55 Hay Seminar
November 2015: Mark Martin, HDR Engineering, gave a William W. Hay Seminar on Friday, November 13, 2015 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is presentation, titled “Design and Construction of the BSNF-UP Tower 55 project in Fort Worth, Texas”, was well received. There were over 90 online participants, almost doubling a typical seminar. To listen to a recording of the presentation, click here.
Monticello Railway Museum Work Days
On October 10 and 24, 2015, 56 engineering students 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 the time replacing ties at the museum. Thanks again to MRM for the opportunity to provide hands on track work experience for RailTEC students.
AAR Environmeantal Award given at RREC
October 2015: CSX’s Raghu Chatrathi received the AAR Environmental Award at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s 17th Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC) on Tuesday, October 17. This award is for professional environmental excellence and is the highest honor for environmental professionals in the railroad industry. Click here for the entire Railway Age article.
17th RREC a Resounding Success
October 2015: The 17th Annual Railroad Environmental Conference, held October 27 – 28 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, was an exciting event. The expanded Exhibit Hall added 15 new exhibitors, the new room layouts provided maximum seating, and there was a 10% increase in registrations over last year. Over 530 on-site participants attended two full days of presentations by railroaders, consulting engineers, academics and others involved in all aspects of railroad environmental topics.
Students attend NARP meeting
October 2015 – Sixteen AREMA Student Chapter members attended the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) meeting in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday, October 17. The meeting was titled ‘A Connected America’ Advocacy and Learning Day. Students participated in the Future of Transportation session. Ed Ellis, President and CEO of Iowa Pacific Holdings, was the keynote speaker at lunch.
2015 AREMA Conference
October 2015: Illinois had over 50 attendees at Railway Interchange 2015, the combined annual conferences of AREMA, RSI and RSSI held in Minneapolis, MN on 4 – 7 October. Included among them were RailTEC faculty, research engineers, staff and at least 37 students and their railway engineering prowess was on display in several ways. AREMA organized a “Student Quiz Bowl” competition, consisting of four rounds of questions related to railroad engineering, operations, history and trivia. Nine teams from different universities competed and Illinois had two teams, who took first and fourth place.
AREMA also held a student research poster competition and RailTEC grad students, Samantha Chadwick and Henry Wolf, took first and second place, respectively, while Darkhan Mussanov took first in the undergraduate category presenting work supported by the Illinois REU program.
RailTEC faculty Tyler Dick, Riley Edwards, Tim Stark, Erol Tutumluer and their students, as well as several RailTEC alumni authored papers that were presented in the conference technical sessions and/or proceedings.
AREMA also presented its annual William W. Hay Award for Excellence (named for former UIUC professor) to a joint BNSF-Union Pacific team for their Tower 55 multimodal improvement project in Fort Worth, Texas. The principal consultant for this project was HDR Engineering who also participated in the award ceremony. During his previous employment with HDR, RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, Tyler Dick was extensively involved in the Tower 55 engineering design.
The RailTEC Alumni Dinner, which was co-sponsored by Hanson Professional Services, Inc., was held on Sunday, October 4 at Rock Bottom Restaurant. Approximately 80 RailTEC faculty, research engineers, staff, students, alumni and industry representatives attended the event.
NURail Students Attending AREMA 2015
Over 60 students from NURail partner universities attended the 2015 AREMA Conference. In addition to attending technical sessions and giving poster presentations, many worked the NURail booth in the exhibition hall.
FTA Project Kickoff Meeting
September 2015: FTA Program Manager, Terrell Williams, third from left, visited on September 29, 2015 to kick-off the $2.4 million, 2 year grant from USDOT FTA to develop better track components for rail transit systems.
RailTEC Short Course Well Received
August 2015: The Railway Engineering Short Course, held August 3 – 7, 2015 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, was a rousing success. A post class survey showed that 98% of the students thought that their understanding of the course material was increased and agreed it was a positive and worthwhile experience. One student reflected, “I highly recommend the class. It combines engineering principles with real life applications. The instructors provide a balanced mix with their railroad and design experiences.” Another Short Course will be held in the summer of 2016. Details will be announced soon.
RAIL Grand Opening
August 2015: The Research And Innovation Lab (RAIL) held its Grand Opening on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Gregory Winfree, Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology for the United States Department of Transportation, and Joseph Leader, Senior Vice President for New York City Transit, both gave brief remarks and had the honors of ribbon cutting. Approximately 70 people attended the event and had the opportunity to tour the 3,500 square foot facility. RAIL is quickly gaining attention and support from both the public and private sector. Additional media coverage can be found here: Engineering at Illinois, RT&S, University of Illinois Federal Relations newsletter, The News-Gazette
Article Addresses Tank Car Design
August 2015 – The dramatic increase in the transport of flammable liquids by rail has raised concerns about the risk of accidents producing large spills. A collaborative, multiyear research effort by several organizations, including RailTEC, focused on this issue. An article written by Professor Chris Barkan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Assistant Professor Xiang Liu (Rutgers University) and Research Assistant Professor Rapik Saat (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign )addressed this topic and was recently published in the summer issue of TR News. Click here to read the article titled “Enhanced Tank Car Design Improves the Safety of Transporting Crude Oil and Alcohol by Rail”.
9th Annual Summerail Conference
TRB Rail Freight Committee AR040 hosted the 9th Annual Summerail Conference on August 12-13, 2015 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Approximately 40 people attended the two day conference which was designed to bring together railroad professionals, government officials, and academics to discuss the past, present, and future of the U.S. railroad industry. Forrest Van Schwartz (firstname.lastname@example.org) organized the conference and registration.. The 2015 TRB Summerail Program can be viewed here.
Eisenhower Fellowship Winners
July 2015: Two RailTEC Ph.D. students, Alexander Lovett and Samantha Chadwick, have received Dwight David Eisenhower Fellowships. This fellowship is awarded to students pursuing degrees in transportation related disciplines in an effort to attract qualified students to the field of transportation and research, and advance transportation workforce development. Alexander is currently working on a joint M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. His research focuses on determining the various costs of railroad track maintenance including the direct costs associated with maintenance as well as how maintenance affects train operations. Sam’s research is focused on improving safety at highway-rail grade crossings by minimizing the risk of train derailments, specifically through development of a statistical model identifying high derailment risk crossings.
Riley Edwards Honored
July 2015: J. Riley Edwards, RailTEC Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer, was honored on Sunday, July 19 as one of the railroad industry’s “Rising Stars” by Progressive Railroading magazine. He was chosen as one of 20 award winners out of nearly 200 nominees. This year’s honorees were chosen based on their contributions to the railroad industry, career achievements, demonstrated leadership, professional association activity or community involvement. Riley received the recognition during the annual conference of the American Association of Railroad Superintendents in Baltimore, Md. To read the ProgressiveRailroading.com article on Riley click here.
RailTEC faculty present at p-REES
July 2015: Built on the success of AREMA’s original Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) program, the inaugural Passenger Railway Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES) program was held July 8 – 10, 2015 in Philadelphia. RailTEC faculty participated in this symposium and provided practical, hands-on engineering information and materials, with the goal of encouraging engineering faculty interest in adding rail and transit engineering content to their current courses and curricula.To read the Passenger Transport magazine write-up on the p-REES symposium, click here.
Student Field Trip
RailTEC students traveled to Springfield, IL on Friday, July 17, 2015 to visit the IL/UPPR HrSR project. Students enjoyed seeing the site and it gave them a broader perspective of the research challenges being addressed.
School Students Focus on Rail
July 2015: On Friday, July 3 RailTEC and the NURail Center hosted eleven students from the Next Generation School STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Summer Camp. This innovative summer program provides real-world experiences for students in grades 4-6 in the Champaign-Urbana area. Camp the week of June 29 was titled “Zoom Zoom Invent” and focused on transportation and scientific inventions of transportation technology. The day the students spent at the university they focused on railroad planning, construction and safety, as well as investigating the physics of rail transportation.
Hanson’s CEO Joins NURail Board
Sergio “Satch” Pecori, P.E., president and chief executive officer at Hanson Professional Services Inc., has joined NURail’s Executive Advisory Board (EAB). Pecori started his career at Hanson in 1974 and has worked on a wide variety of projects in the U.S. and overseas, including railroads. “Satch’s experience and commitment to advancing railway engineering education is a great asset to NURail, and he also brings the perspective of the consulting engineering community to the EAB, which is important to our rail workforce development mission,” Chris Barkan, RailTEC Executive Director and NURail Center Director, said. Click here to read the news release.
Sam Chadwick Wins 3-Minute Award
June 8, 2015: Samantha Chadwick, a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was the winner of the 3-Minute Thesis Competition at the 2015 NURail Annual Meeting. Four student researchers, each from a different NURail university, delivered brief overviews of their research to a panel of judges and meeting attendees during the evening reception on Wednesday, June 3. Each student presenter was allowed to speak a maximum of 3 minutes using a single PowerPoint slide. The winner was selected based on their presentation’s comprehension, content, engagement and communication.
2015 NURail Annual Meeting
June 4, 2015: 100 people attended the 2015 NURail Annual Meeting on June 3 – 4 in Chicago. The meeting theme was “Delivering Results”. Sessions covered current rail research, technology transfer, education and workforce development, as well as other rail topics.
RailTEC/BJTU Joint Laboratory
May 28, 2015: RailTEC’s Executive Director, Chris Barkan, signed a memorandum of understanding with ZHANG Xingchen, Vice President of Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), and agreed to support the BJTU application to setup an international joint laboratory at the BJTU campus. A formal announcement will be made in June by our Chancellor and BJTU’s President. As part of the support, one to two of the RailTEC faculty will soon start working on joint research projects at the BJTU campus.
RailTEC Faculty and Graduates
May 2015: Executive Director Chris Barkan (center), Assistant Professor Rapik Saat (far left) and Research Engineer Yu Qian (far right) pose with the May 2015 RailTEC M.S. graduates. Congratulations and good luck to all of our students!
Chicago Tribune Quotes Barkan
May 2015: A Chicago Tribune article on rail tank car safety was published in the May 14, 2015 issue and includes insights from RailTEC Executive Director, Christopher P.L. Barkan. Click here to read the article.
RailTEC Students Receive CEE Awards
May 2015: Darkan Mussanov and Samantha Chadwick both received CEE student scholarship awards. Darkan received the Norman Carlson Scholarship for students in railroad or transportation engineering while Samantha received the C.E. DeLeuw Travel Award. The DeLeuw Travel Award is for senior or graduate CEE transportation students and finances a foreign inspection trip for a student that has a special interest in public transportation in general and in urban and suburban rapid transit in particular.
CEE 410/CEE 411 Field Visit
April 2015: Both CEE 410 and CEE 411 participated in field visits this month. CEE 410 (Railway Signaling and Control) visited Norfolk Southern’s Illinois Division Headquarters. They met train dispatchers and observed the dispatching hardware and software that Norfolk Southern uses to control train movements safely and efficiently throughout much of the Midwest. CEE 411 (Railroad Project Design and Construction) traveled to Chicago to visit the CREATE GS15a capital project at 130th and Torrence Avenue and CSX’s Bedford Park Intermodal Facility. The field visit provided the opportunity to see a railway capital project that is under construction as well as an operational intermodal facility that is among the largest in the United States.
FRA Final Report Published
April 2015: RailTEC researchers just published their final report for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on “Identification of High-Speed Rail Ballast Flight Risk Factors and Risk Mitigation Strategies”. The purpose of this report is to identify the potential causes and hazard consequences of ballast flight, review potential risk mitigation strategies, and examine relevance of ballast flight risks in the current and planned U.S. passenger rail system. The document is available by visiting the FRA website.
2015 AREMA Committee 30
RailTEC staff, students and alumni participated in the spring 2015 AREMA Committee 30 meeting in Colorado Springs, CO. Based upon the RailTEC’s current research, the group was able to lead conversations that proposed updates to AREMA Chapter 30’s (Ties) Recommended Practices. Additionally, the group was also able to attend a field visit to the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, CO where they were able to see standard rail industry testing performed.
Edwards Named “Rising Star”
March 2015: J. Riley Edwards, P.E., RailTEC Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer, has been selected by Progressive Railroading Magazine for their “Rising Star” award. The Rising Stars Award program was launched in 2013 to recognize people under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in railroading through their company, organization, department or team. Rising Stars are viewed by others as up-and-coming leaders in the railroad industry. Congratulations Riley!
RailTEC students win BNSF competition
Two RailTEC students won the 2015 BNSF Railway Company Engineering Design Challenge competition. The team of Tariq Shihadah (CEE, ’15) and Gary Tang (CEE, ‘15 ) will be honored in Chicago on Tuesday, April 21 at an awards banquet followed by a BNSF Engineering project site visit on Wednesday, April 22. The challenge, which was submitted back in October, had two parts. One was related to a Roadmaster Report and the other to Track Inspection Notes. Congratulations to both!
Barkan Inverviewed by NPR
March 2015: RailTEC Professor and Executive Director, Chris Barkan, was interviewed by Scott Tang of National Public Radio’s Marketplace Morning Report regarding recent regulations issued by Transport Canada for safer tank cars to transport petroleum crude oil. He was asked about the effectiveness of specific design features included in the new regulations and how they improve safety. Dr. Barkan and RailTEC colleague, Dr. Rapik Saat, have been conducting research sponsored by the Association of American Railroads and the Railway Supply Institute for many years on how to improve tank car safety and optimize their safety design.
Railroader of the Year Banquet
March 2015: Graduate Student Matt Csenge, Research Assistant Professor Rapik Saat and Professor Chris Barkan attended the Railway Age Railroader of the Year Award Reception and Banquet at the Union League in Chicago on Tuesday 10 March. The 2015 award was presented to Mr. E. Hunter Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Pacific. The RailTEC attendees were invited guests of the Association of American Railroads and Engineering Systems, Inc. and had the opportunity to meet and congratulate Mr. Harrison personally.
Major Research Funding Award
February 2015: The US DOT Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced that RailTEC has been awarded a major, two-year research project investigating improvements in rail transit infrastructure quality, reliability and safety. RailTEC faculty and students will use innovative technologies and methods to characterize the desired performance and resiliency requirements for concrete crossties and fastening systems, quantify their behavior under load, and develop resilient infrastructure component design solutions for concrete crossties and fastening systems for light rail, eavy rail, and commuter rail operators. This project will include development of prototype crossties and fastening systems with the overall objective of keeping public transportation safe and in a state of good repair, especially during natural disasters and other externally caused extreme events.
Illinois Receives AREMA Scholarships
February 20, 2015: This morning the AREMA Educational Foundation announced its 2015 Scholarship Winners and eleven Illinois students are recipients. The winners are: Ivan Atanassov, Samantha Chadwick, Giovanni DiDomenico, Matthew Greve, Phanuwat Kaewpanya, Alexander Lovett, Daniel Rivi, Thomas Roadcap, Scott Schmidt, Paul Shih, and Kaijun Zhu. For a complete list of names and their awarded scholarships, click here. Congratulations to all!
RailTEC Faculty Quoted
February 2015: Two RailTEC faculty were interviewed in the aftermath of the February 3 Metro-North collision with an SUV. Click here to read the article.
RailTEC presence at TRB
Over 45 University of Illinois RailTEC students, faculty and alumni attended the 94th TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 11 – 15, 2015. These students, faculty and alumni were referenced over 70 times in the session schedule. Click here for a guide to RailTEC presentations or session chairs.
NURail Center Student of the Year
January 2015: Congratulations to James O’Shea, the NURail Center Student of the Year. James is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at UIC in Mechanical Engineering. His research activities focus on railroad vehicle stability and the analysis of vehicle derailment criteria. As the recipient of this award James will receive an honorarium from NURail in recognition of his outstanding technical research, record of publications and presentation, academic performance, and professional leadership.
Professional and Educational Milestones
December 2014: Members of RailTEC’s railroad infrastructure research team recently achieved significant professional and educational milestones. Riley Edwards and Marcus Dersch both passed their Professional Engineering exam. Meanwhile, the newest addition to RailTEC staff, Research Engineer Yu Qian, deposited his Ph.D. dissertation thus completing his degree. Welcome to Yu and Congratulations to all!
Hay Seminar Recordings Available
December 2014: University of Kentucky professor Jerry G. Rose wrapped up the William W. Hay Seminar series in December. Professor Rose’s presentation, as well as all the other speakers for the semester, can be found on our Hay Seminar page. A big thank you to all the presenters who shared their time and knowledge with us this semester.
UI Prof. Studies Hong Kong HSR Delay
UI RailTEC Research Professor TC Kao and Professor Bent Flyvberg of the Said Business School of Oxford University were invited by Hong Kong MTRCL (Hong Kong Railway Corporation) to undertake an Independent Experts study on the delay of the multi-billion-dollar Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) project connecting Hong Kong with mainland China. The report, published on October 28, 2014, contains their analysis and recommendations regarding timely delivery, costs, and management procedures for the XRL project. Special attention was given to how to deal with unknown events and their impacts on project delivery. Click here to read the report.
Monticello Railway Museum Work Days
On October 11 and 25, 2014, nearly 70 civil engineering students and faculty from the CEE 408 and 409 classes participated in two “work days” at the Monticello Railway Museum (MRM) in Monticello, Illinois. The projects consisted of assisting MRM volunteers installing ties, gaging, surfacing and aligning track, placing ballast and repairing washouts which included the installation of drainage pipes under the track. More than 100 ties were installed and approximately 1,000 feet of track were restored to Class 1 conditions. A safe, productive and enjoyable time was had by all. Thanks again to MRM for the opportunity to provide “hands on” track work experience for RailTEC students.
Graduate Education Opportunities
October 2014: RailTEC has graduate research assistantship (RA) positions available for qualified applicants who are seeking to grow while working on exciting projects related to rail transportation and engineering. If you or someone you know may be interested in pursuing a MS or PhD degree with a focus in Rail Transportation and Engineering, please see our flyer.
Joint RailTEC/KTH Courses
October 2014: RailTEC has partnered with the rail research group at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden to offer joint courses. Starting in the 2014-15 academic year, UIUC students may enroll as online students in the following rail courses taught by KTH faculty: Click here to continue reading.
September 2014: Approximately 90 RailTEC faculty, students and alumni were present at the AREMA 2014 Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago. Here is the group gathered for dinner on Sunday, September 28.
Hay Seminar Recording
September 2014: The first William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Seminar was held on Friday, August 29, 2014 at noon. Eric Pachman and Mark Dingler of CSX were the guest speakers. The title of their presentation was “Railroad Capacity Analytics at CSX” and may be heard here. The event was attended by 75 participants and over 25 online listeners.
2014 NURail Annual Meeting
August 2014: The NURail annual meeting, held this year in Altoona, PA on August 18 – 19, 2014 was hosted by NURail Affiliate Member Penn State Altoona. The two day meeting provided the opportunity to recap highlights of the previous year and discuss plans for 2015. In addition, a variety of presentations on education, outreach, workforce development, and research were given. To see copies of the presentations, click here.
GLXS Symposium a Success
August 2014: The 2014 Global Level Crossing Safety & Trespass Prevention Symposium (GLXS) on 3 – 8 August was a huge success. Over 230 attendees represented 26 countries and 27 states. The symposium provided an opportunity for participants to exchange information and share best practices to improve the safety of the at-grade interface between highway and rail systems. Highlights included rides on Little Obie and a keynote speech by Administrator Joe Szabo of the Federal Railroad Administration. Click here to see local coverage of these events, here to see conference presentations, or here to see the conference photo gallery or here to see the Little Obie video.
Rail Safety with Little Obie
July 2014: Educating the public about railway safety will be the aim of CN Railroad (CN) when they bring a miniature train, known as Little Obie, to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus next month. The locomotive’s appearance is part of the 2014 Global Level Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention Symposium being held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on August 4-5, 2014. Click here to read full the press release.
Thailand HSR course completed
June 2014: RailTEC faculty, TC Kao, hosted an intensive course on high speed rail (HSR) systems in Bangkok, Thailand from June 16-21. The objective of the course was to inform the students of the different technologies used for high speed rail passenger transportation systems. The course included lectures and presentations about the core systems such as trains, power system and signaling as well as the civil work that surrounds high speed railway systems.
REES: A step towards higher learning
June 2014: Professors from around the country attended the Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) on June 23 – 25, 2014 in Overland Park, Kansas. The objective of the symposium was to further inform the professors of the workforce crisis and give them materials to educate students about railway infrastructure, performance, engineering, and design at their respective universities. It also included trips to BNSF Railway’s Freight Yard and the Kansas City Intermodal Facility. Click here to see additional pictures from REES.
U.S. House Committee Testimony
June 2014: Professor Christopher P.L. Barkan, Executive Director of RailTEC and Director, National University Rail (NURail) Center, testified on June 18, 2014 in front of the U.S. House Committee on Science Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology. He and several other witnesses testified to the Subcommittee about the “Future of Surface Transportation”. As part of his testimony Dr. Barkan made several references to the ongoing activities of the NURail UTC.
Crosstie Symposium a Success
June 2014: Over 130 attended the International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium on June 3 – 5, 2014 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The objective of the symposium was to further international communication and collaboration on design and performance challenges and solutions for crossties and fastening systems. The symposium included technical and poster presentation topics, research discussion topics and technical tours. Click here to see the presentations.
2014 HRS International Outreach
March 2014: RailTEC faculty and students traveled to London and Paris over spring break to participate in a week-long research symposium hosted by SNCF. They also visited IRIS 320, SNCF’s infrastructure diagnostics train.
May 2014: Congratulations to December 2013 and May 2014 RailTEC graduates! Five who participated in Spring commencement are shown with Professors Barkan and Saat. From left to right, Xiang Liu (Ph.D. December 2013), Scott Schmidt (B.S. May 2014), Chris Barkan, M. Rapik Saat, Chen-Yu Lin (M.S. May 2014), Xiaonan Zhou (M.S. May 2014) and Anusha Suryanarayanan (M.S. May 2014).
BSA Railroading Merit Badge
On 12 and 26 April, RailTEC students and alumni taught the Railroading merit badge at a STEM merit badge clinic on campus. The merit badge covers a wide topics ranging from signals to train types to model railroading and rail fanning. The material also included an Operation Lifesaver presentation along with other information about how to safely operate around the tracks. The youth planned their own long distance rail trips from Champaign and design their own model railroad layout.
Hay Seminar Audio Links
April 2014: Audio links are available for our Spring 2014 Hay Seminar speakers. If you were not able to catch the live presentations, feel free to listen to our speakers at your leisure. Our guests included: Stephen Schlickman, University of Illinois Chicago; Andrew Kish, Kandrew Inc. Consulting Services; and Gary Carr, Federal Railroad Administration.
High Speed Rail Initiative Announced
April 2014: RailTEC unveiled a new initiative today between the University of Illinois (UIUC) and Southwest Jiaotong University (SWJTU) promoting High Speed Rail Education, Research and Development. SWJTU President Fei Xu, Professor Wanming Zhai, Professor Guang Chen, Professor Ping Wang and Professor Yanjun Qiu visited campus on April 23, 2014 for the official announcement. This collaboration More..
Barkan Participates in NTSB Forum
Chris Barkan, Executive Director of RailTEC, participated in the Rail Safety Forum: Transportation of Crude Oil and Ethanol sponsored by the National Transportation Safety Board on April 22 – 23, 2014. Crude oil and ethanol transportation by rail has seen tremendous growth in North America over the last decade, altering the way these flammable liquids are transported. Barkan was an invited panelist for the Rail Operations and Approaches to Risk Management Panel and gave a presentation on: “Optimizing Rail Transportation and Safety Improvement”.
Field Trip to RAIL.ONE
The RailTEC Crosstie and Fastening System Research Team visited the new RAIL.ONE facility in Clinton, IA on April 25, 2014.
EOH 2014 Visitors
April 2014: RailTEC welcomed Hanson Professional Services, Inc. and a group of students involved in the city of Springfield’s Minority Participation Program to Engineering Open House (EOH) on March 15. Please click here to see additional photos and learn more about EOH 2014.
Senior Research Engineer Quoted
March 2014: The official publication of the National Society of Professional Engineers, PE, interviewed RailTEC Senior Railway Research Engineer, C. Tyler Dick, in January concerning railway engineering education. The story was published in their March 2014 issue. Click here to read the article.
Schlickman audio link available
March 2014: RailTEC was excited to have Stephen E. Schlickman, Executive Director of the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois Chicago as their William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Seminar speaker on March 11, 2014. His talk on “An Overview of the Funding and Finance of Transportation Projects” was well received and can be replayed here.
RailTEC Faculty Quoted
March 2014: RailTEC Executive Director, Chris Barkan, and Senior Research Engineer, Tyler Dick, were interviewed for a March 3 Washington Post article on train efficiency. Click here to read the entire article.
CEE 2014 Spring Job Fair
March 2014: Fifteen of the 67 companies represented at the CEE 2014 Spring Job Fair were interested in talking to students about career opportunities in railroad engineering. Hundreds of students attended the event on Thursday, February 27 and a Job Fair video is available to view here. Registration for the 2014 Fall Job Fair isn’t open yet, but interested companies can check this page: http://cee.illinois.edu/jobfair.
2014 AREMA scholarship winners
February 2014: Five University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students were announced as 2014 AREMA Educational Foundation Scholarship Winners. The U of I recipients are:
• Matthew J. Greve – Michael W. & Jean D. Franke Family Foundation Scholarship
• Chen-Yu Lin – New York Central Railroad Memorial Scholarship
• Alexander H. Lovett – Michael & Gina Garcia Rail Engineering Scholarship
• Daniel R. Rivi – Larry L. Etherton Scholarship
• Scott R. Schmidt – AREMA Educational Foundation Scholarship
For a complete list of AREMA scholarship winners, click here. Congratulations to you all!
International Summer Events 2014
February 2014: RailTEC is pleased to introduce International Summer School 2014. These week-long summer school sessions will be held on the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign campus. One summer school session is on High Speed Rail Planning and the other is on Multimodal Transportation Risk. Participants receive certificates of completion with professional development hours (PDH) awarded. Space is limited so register now! In addition to summer school, two international conferences will be held on campus. See our flyer for more details.
Industry magazines highlight event
February 2014: Both Railway Age and Railway Track & Structures (RT&S) magazines highlighted the upcoming International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium in recent articles. The symposium will take place on June 3 – 5, 2014 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Read the article Railway Age article here and the RT&S article here.
RailTEC Research Assistantships
February 2014: Research Assistantship (RA) opportunities are available with RailTEC. Click here to see the flyer for additional details.
RailTEC hosts SWFTU professors
February 2014: RailTEC was pleased to host eight visitors from Southwest Jiaotong University (SWJTU) in Chengdu, China. The visitors, railroad professors from the School of Civil Engineering, stayed a month participating in a high speed rail workshop, meeting students and faculty, sharing research and educational interests, and immersing themselves in U.S. life.
RailTEC featured in CEE magazine
February 2014: Undergraduate Nao Nishio, a junior focusing in Transportation, wrote an article in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association – Winter 2014 magazine about her experience with RailTEC as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Click here to read her article.
HSR International Outreach
January 2014: Visit England and France over Spring Break and attend an SNCF research symposium and various technical tours. Deadline to apply is February 7. Click here to see the flyer.
Dr. Xiang Liu receives SRA award
December 2013: Congratulations to recent PhD graduate Xiang Liu for winning the Student Merit Award from the Risk Policy and Law specialty group at the 2013 Society of Risk Analysis (SRA) Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland on December 8 – 11, 2013. Dr. Liu’s award is based on his work on railroad crude oil transportation risk management.
The future of railway engineering
December 2013: RailTEC and NURail are featured in the UIUC portion of this RT&S article describing how railroad engineering programs are helping prepare students to fill the spots in industry as many in the current railroad engineering workforce retire. Click here to read the article.
Anthony Perl audio link available
December 2013: RailTEC was excited to have Dr. Anthony Perl, professor of Urban Studies and Political Science at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, as their William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Seminar speaker on December 6, 2013. His talk on “Global Lessons in High Speed Rail and Their Relevance for North America” was well received and can be replayed here.
Ruppert appointed to Blue Ribbon Panel
Conrad Ruppert, Jr., Senior Research Engineer and Director of Research with RailTEC, was appointed to a Blue Ribbon Panel to assist the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). He is part of a distinguished group of rail engineering and transportation experts, politicians and former US DOT Secretaries of Transportation. The panel was formed to assist MTA in a broad-ranging investigation into how they can improve their rail engineering and safety practices following several accidents this past summer. Click here to read the article in the rail industry’s leading trade magazine, Railway Age.
Wireless Monitoring of RR bridges
In a new project for lthe Federal Railroad Administration led by Professor Bill Spencer, two CEE research centers, the Smart Structures Technology Laboratory (SSTL) and RailTEC, are working together to develop a portable, cost-effective and practical wireless structural health monitoring system for railroad bridges in North America. Click here to read the article.
NURail Center Receives Funding
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded a grant of $1.4 million to the National University Rail (NURail) Center, a multi-university rail transportation and engineering research center led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The NURail Center was established in 2012 with funding from the USDOT as the nation’s first rail-specific UTC. This new grant emphasizes work toward the USDOT’s strategic goal of economic competitiveness and will address rail issues related to infrastructure and vehicle engineering, capacity planning and optimization, operational safety and risk mitigation, systems integration and finance and policy. Click here to read more. Click here to read the RT&S article.
University of Illinois High-Speed Rail Study Released
The University of Illinois released the final report of a preliminary feasibility study for a 220-mph high-speed rail (HSR) passenger service between Chicago, Champaign-Urbana and beyond. More…
RailTEC Faculty Interviewed about Concrete Ties
September 2013: RailTEC Senior Lecturer, J. Riley Edwards, is quoted in a November 2013 TRAINS magazine article discussing his research on concrete ties. Click here to read the article.
Monticello Railway Museum work day
September 2013: Approximately 70 civil engineering students and faculty from the CEE 408 and 409 classes participated in an annual “work day” at the Monticello Railway Museum (MRM) in Monticello, Illinois on September 14, 2013. This year the project consisted of assisting MRM volunteers with reconstructing approximately 300 feet of track, including the track within a highway grade crossing, and replacing defective switch ties in an adjacent turnout. Work on this day consisted of setting and spacing crossties, laying rail, bolting rail sticks together, setting plates, gauging and spiking rail, aligning the track, spreading and tamping ballast, and setting final top-of-rail elevations.
RailTEC student awarded Frank Richter Scholarship
September 3, 2013, Chicago, IL: AARS awarded three students the Frank J. Richter Scholarship this year. The recipient of the $1,000 scholarship award, Scott Schmidt, a civil engineering student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Scott’s focus of study is railway engineering with a minor in business. More…
RailTEC Faculty Interviews about Train Safety
July 2013: After the high speed train crash in northwest Spain, RailTEC senior research engineer, Conrad Ruppert, Jr., was interviewed by TIME magazine. Click here to read the article.
Special All-Rail Issue of TR News Published
July 2013: A special, all-rail issue of TR News, Number 286, May-June 2013: Railroads and Research: Sharing Track, was recently published by TRB that includes two articles written by UIUC RailTEC faculty Chris Barkan, Rapik Saat and Yanfeng Ouyang, and another by UIUC alumnus Tom Cornillie.
MS Students Join Rail Industry
July 2013: The rail industry welcomed former RailTEC MS students into their midst as five individuals launched their careers.
Two students joined BNSF: Mike Wnek is working as a Management Trainee – Technical Research & Development and Brennan Caughron as a Management Trainee in Engineering Services. Chris Rapp is a Railroad Designer with Hanson Profession Services and Sam Sogin is the Assistant Manager of Transportation Planning for Union Pacific Railroad. Sam Chadwick is currently in Taipei as a 2013 – 2014 Luce Scholar, where she has been placed with Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation.
Good luck to you all!
SNCF/UIUC Joint Workshop
June 2013: Leadership from the engineering and research departments within the French National Railway Company (SNCF) (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français) recently visited the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) to discuss research topics relating to railway infrastructure and the potential for further collaboration in areas of mutual interest. Specifically, topics relating to railway ballast flight and track substructure research were covered. The meetings also included an exchange of research between SNCF and RailTEC relating to concrete sleepers and elastic fastening systems. In addition to SNCF and UIUC participation, these meetings were also attended by industry experts from Amtrak, the University of Kentucky, and the John A. Volpe National Transportation Center.
Crosstie and Fastening Research
June 2013: Almost the entire crosstie and fastening research team (15 members at different times during the week) traveled to the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, CO from May 16–24, 2013 to complete their second set of field experiments. The team repaired previous instrumentation, installed new instrumentation, and collected additional data that will further their knowledge of the demands placed on crosstie and fastening system components. For more details and to see a video highlighting their research efforts, click here.
Shared Corridors Report
June 2013: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently published a report on their website entitled “Investigating Technical Challenges and Research Needs Related to Shared Corridors for High-Speed Passenger and Railroad Freight Operations”. It was written by Rapik Saat, PhD, Research Assistant Professor for RailTEC, and Professor Chris Barkan, PhD, Executive Director of RailTEC. The report discusses the technical challenges associated with shared high-speed passenger and freight rail corridors, describes an effort to prioritize the challenges, and presents an in-depth literature review of specific high-priority challenges to identify existing research and future research needs. Click here to read the report.
Rail – Copenhagen 2013
In May 2013, UIUC RailTEC Alumnus, Yung-Cheng Lai (MS 2004, PhD 2008); RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, C. Tyler Dick; Professor Chris Barkan; and RailTEC MS students, Brennan Caughron and Samuel Sogin, attended “Rail – Copenhagen 2013”, the 5th International Seminar on Railway Operations Modeling and Analysis, organized by the International Association of Railway Operations Researchers and hosted by the Technical University of Denmark. They presented three papers and two of them were among five nominated for the best young researcher prize at the conference, one by Sam Sogin (M.S. student), C. Tyler Dick (Senior Research Engineer) and Chris Barkan (Professor), and the other by alumnus, Yung-Cheng Lai, now an Associate Professor at National Taiwan University, and his students, Yun-Hsuan Liu and Yi-Ju Lin.
Lovett awarded Eisenhower Fellowship
May 7, 2013: Alexander Lovett, a Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. student with a focus on railway engineering, was selected to receive a 2013 Dwight David Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to students pursuing degrees in transportation related disciplines in an effort to attract qualified students to the field of transportation and research, and advance transportation workforce development. Lovett’s primary research interest and subject of his dissertation research is ensuring that the track is maintained efficiently at levels commensurate with the traffic and tonnage it transports. He is developing a model to optimize investments in maintenance activities given a number of critical input factors.
Professor gives UIC seminar
April 2013: Dr. Rapik Saat, Research Assistant Professor with RailTEC, has been invited to give a special seminar on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 on the topic “Optimizing Railroad Transportation Safety Improvement” on the University of Illinois Chicago campus. This presentation will illustrate optimization models to consider different risk reduction strategies, independently and in combination, in the context of railroad hazardous materials transportation. An overview of on-going research related to passenger trains on shared rail corridors with freight trains will also be presented.
RailTEC student named Luce Scholar
March 2013: Samantha Chadwick, a May 2013 University of Illinois graduate, was one of 18 students nationwide to be named a Luce Scholar for 2013 – 2014. The Luce Scholarship will provide a full stipend and internship for her to live and work in Asia. Chadwick conducted her master’s theses research with RailTEC and hopes to be placed in a nation where high-speed rail is central to their commerce and culture. More…
Yu Qian wins Yee Memorial Fellowship
May 2013: Yu Qian, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was recently honored with the Yee Memorial Fellowship. Qian has been working on an innovative research topic, Discrete Element Modeling of Railroad Ballast Degradation Trends, currently funded by FRA. More…
University of Illinois to Lead U.S. DOT Research Center
URBANA, IL (JANUARY 17, 2012)
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a grant of $3.5 million to a multi-university consortium led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to establish a rail transportation and engineering research center. Headquartered within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois, the National University Rail (NURail) Center will focus on rail education and research to improve railroad safety, efficiency and reliability. Particular focus will be on challenges associated with rail corridors in which higher-speed passenger trains share infrastructure with freight trains.
The NURail Center will be the first UTC focused solely on rail, and the proposal received broad support from a large number of public, private sector, and international rail organizations. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign leads a consortium of research universities including the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan Technical University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Tennessee. Within the theme of shared rail corridors, research projects will focus on track and structures; train control; rolling stock; human factors, and other topics identified based on Federal Railroad Administration and Association of American Railroads priorities. The center will be under the direction of Professor Christopher P.L. Barkan, the Krambles Faculty Fellow and director of the Illinois Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC).
In addition to being part of the NuRails center, the Urban Transportation Center at UIC will join a collaboration led by the University of South Florida’s National Center for Transit Research, one of only two centers designated to work on transit research nationally. Work at UIC may include projects related to the issues of safety, maintenance, competitiveness, livability, and environmental stability in the Chicago region, Illinois, and nationally. UIC has been guaranteed $700,000 of the $3.5 million federal grant to the University of South Florida, with a $700,000 matching grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation. UIC is also a participant in a third UTC consortium led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
University of Illinois President Michael Hogan said, “The University of Illinois is very thankful for the support of Governor Pat Quinn and our state Congressional leadership, in helping us win these grants. Illinois has the nation’s best programs in rail engineering and transit system development and operation, and these UTC’s will help the nation and region prepare for future freight and passenger rail needs.”
These research grants are part of $77 DOT million in grants to 22 UTCs—involving a total of 121 different universities across the country—to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the nation. The UTCs conduct research that directly supports the priorities of the DOT on transportation-related issues such as shared rail corridors, innovations in multimodal freight and infrastructure, bridge inspection methods, and reducing roadway fatalities and injuries.
IDOT and University of Illinois High-Speed Rail Study Announcement
Thursday June 2, 2011 – Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a partnership between the University of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of 220-mph passenger rail service in Illinois. The study will complement the ongoing construction of a regional 110-mph network that will connect Chicago to 40 cities in the Midwest, while supporting Governor Quinn’s vision to create jobs, enhance regional mobility and improve the environment by expanding passenger rail in Illinois. “Illinois is leading the nation with our work to expand high-speed and passenger rail,” said Governor Quinn. “This study will provide greater insight into how we can make 220-mph rail service a reality. An expanded and improved rail network will boost our position in the global economy and create thousands of jobs.” The study will explore the potential costs and benefits of establishing 220-mph service between O’Hare International Airport, downtown Chicago, McCormick Place, and Champaign-Urbana and will also look at extending the corridor in the region to cities south of Champaign-Urbana, including St. Louis and Indianapolis.
2010: CN has made a new $325,000 donation to the Railroad Engineering Program, a gift which renews the company’s generous commitment to railroad engineering education.
Railroad Students Recipients of AREMA 2010 Scholarship
Seven Railroad Engineering Students received an AREMA Scholarship
For over a century, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been the leading academic institution in rail transportation engineering in North America. Building on its strong academic and research programs in rail engineering and transport, Illinois introduces a dynamic new hub: The Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC). RailTEC recognizes the expanding importance of rail transportation to the economy, to society and to a safe and sustainable environment, and is committed to further growth and development of its teaching and research activities in support of the nation’s need for talented young minds and new technologies for this vital transportation mode.
High-Speed Rail a New Focus for Railroad Program
High-speed rail is the next big thing in railroad engineering in the United States, and the University of Illinois’ Railroad Engineering Program is assuming a leadership role in bringing the latest information about this hot topic to students, fellow educators, and the industry. This semester, an expert from Taiwan is teaching, at Illinois, the first university-level class in high-speed rail to be offered in the country. In addition, a major international rail conference will be held on the U of I campus in April, featuring high-speed and intercity passenger rail as its primary focus.
Caption: Professor T.C Kao and his wife, Mei, wait to board a high-speed train in Taiwan.
Video of Mike Franke – AMTRAK discussing the 2010 AREMA Hay Award
On Aug. 30, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) presented the annual William W. Hay Award – which recognizes excellence in rail engineering – to Norfolk Southern Railway for the $190 million Heartland Corridor clearance improvement project. Michael Franke, an Amtrak assistant vice president and AREMA’s treasurer, discusses the 12th annual award, which was presented during the association’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla.
Nation’s Top Transportation Research Official Visits UIUC/ATREL
The UIUC transportation group welcomed Peter H. Appel to campus and ATREL on August 19-20. Appel was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) in spring 2009.
2009 Railroad Job Fair
The University of Illinois Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and Engineering Career Services were excited to host an event to highlight the railroad and the innovative opportunities available to college students and graduates. “Getting Your Career on Track in the Railroad Industry” was held on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 from 4-6 p.m. at the Illini Union on the Urbana-Champaign campus.