News Archive

Dersch Highlighted in RT&S Magazine

RailTEC Principal Research Engineer, Marcus S. Dersch, P.E., was highlighted in the “Getting to know” section of the April 2021 issue of Railway Track & Structures (RT&S) magazine. Marcus recently assumed the position of Chair of AREMA Committee 30 – Ties. Click here to read the RT&S article.

International Crosstie & Fastening System Symposium – Registration Open

The 2021 International Crosstie & Fastening System Symposium will be held virtually this summer.  The program will include more than 25 pre-recorded presentations that will be provided free of charge to registered attendees.  Recordings of technical presentations will be released by topic area over a 5-week period for viewing throughout the remainder of 2021. Visit our webpage for additional information.

Subscribe here to ensure you receive the presentations each week.

Inspection Advancements and Applications | 19 May 2021

Sponsored by Evertrak

Concrete Crosstie Design and Performance | 26 May 2021

Sponsored by Progress Rail

Resilient Materials and Crosstie Support | 2 June 2021

Sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad

Composite and Interspersed Crossties | 9 June 2021

Sponsored by Pandrol

Fastening System Design and Performance | 16 June 2021

Sponsored by Vossloh


Additional sponsorship opportunities are available for this event. Click here for more information.


Virtual Engineering Open House March 26 – 27, 2021

The University of Illinois’ renown Engineering Open House (EOH) is virtual this year. This free event is being held today and tomorrow, March 26 – 27, and will be showcasing 100 exhibits representing every department in The Grainger College of Engineering. The public is invited to participate by watching live events and exploring on-demand exhibits and competitions that showcase the talent and ingenuity of Illinois students.

Click here to access the EOH schedule and here to view the exhibits.

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-Of-Way Association (AREMA) Student Chapter is one of nine exhibits available within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Newmark Lab.  Geordie Roscoe, chapter president, gives a demonstration on a railroad block signal system and explains its role in safe train operations. The electrical design matches that of the first fail-safe designs. Click here to watch the video or here for more information.

RailTEC Instructors Ranked Excellent

Despite the challenges of teaching online during a pandemic RailTEC instructors Riley Edwards and Tyler Dick were ranked as excellent by the students in their fall 2020 courses. The ratings are determined each semester by students completing the Instructor and Course Evaluation (ICES) questionnaire form. Riley taught CEE 409 – Railroad Track Engineering and Tyler taught CEE 598 RTD – Railway Terminal Design and Operations. CEE 598 RTD was recently approved and now is a permanent course known as CEE 511.  Click here to see a listing of UI instructors who earned the distinction to be included on this list.

CEE 409 – Railway Track Engineering

Railroad track is the backbone of a railway network and a key element of the vehicle-track system. Its primary functions are to support and distribute train loads, guide rail vehicles and facilitate drainage. The safe and efficient movement of trains requires that track is properly designed, constructed, inspected and maintained. The objectives of this course are to provide the student with a fundamental understanding of basic railroad track engineering principles, concepts, practices and technologies. The course also includes the development of a comprehensive track design project in a team setting.  Finally, a field trip is planned to observe railroad track and engage in “hands-on” track construction and maintenance activities.

CEE 511 – Railway Terminal Design and Operations

In this course, students learn details of the design, operations planning, management and optimization of the terminal facilities required for the railway network to function as an efficient freight transportation system. Focus is on design of classification yards, intermodal facilities and bulk terminals, and how these facilities are organized into a network to provide different types of freight transportation service. Course includes a classification yard semester design project and field trip to observe a railway terminal facility.

One-Week Virtual Short Courses Available

RailTEC invites you to attend one or both of our one-week railway engineering short courses. Week One focuses on Track Engineering Fundamentals while Week Two focuses on Railroad Project Design. Both courses will be held in July 2021 and each course will run virtually on Monday – Thursday for four hours each day. Participants earn 14 professional development hours. Past attendees include rail professionals, engineers, planners, consultants and more from employees throughout the rail industry.  Registration is open now. For more information, click here to go to the Railway Engineering Short Course website.

Track Engineering Fundamentals
12-15 July 2021 | Noon-4pm CDT
Lead Instructor: Conrad Ruppert

    • Monday: Introduction; Rail; Crossties & Fasteners
    • Tuesday: Ballast & Subgrade; Drainage; Slab Track; Turnouts & Special Trackwork
    • Wednesday: Track Structural Analysis; Track Structural Design
    • Thursday: Track Standards & Inspections; Track Maintenance Technologies; Asset Management & Life Cycle Costs

Railroad Project Design
19-22 July 2021 | Noon-4pm CDT
Lead Instructor: Tyler Dick

    • Monday: Introduction; Horizontal Track Geometry
    • Tuesday: Vertical Track Geometry; Cross Sections & Earthwork
    • Wednesday: Railroad Location; Location Referencing & Track Charts
    • Thursday: Project Phasing; Project Cost Estimation

The course focuses on three general topic areas (track structure design, track geometry/project design and train resistance/motive power/rolling stock).  Attendees with a stronger background in one area can still learn about other aspects of railway engineering and the interrelationships between them. In gaining a greater appreciation for the holistic view of rail transport as a system, attendees can make better engineering decisions in the future. The short course is an excellent networking opportunity to meet others engaged in various facets of the rail industry.



CEE Announces 2021 Rail Scholarship Recipients

RailTEC would like to congratulate the following 2021 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Rail Scholarship Recipients. They are:

Matthew Parkes – Albert J. Reinschmidt Scholarship in Railway Engineering

Xinhao Liu – Michael W. & Jean D. Franke Family Foundation Scholarship

Kevin Di – Norman and Mary Carlson Scholarship

Avin Arefzadeh – CN Railway Transportation Scholarship

Matthew Parkes – CN Railway Transportation Scholarship

More information about each of the scholarships can be found below.

Albert J. Reinschmidt Scholarship in Railway Engineering

This scholarship was founded and sponsored by friends and railroad industry colleagues of Dr. Albert J. Reinschmidt. Reinschmidt earned all of his degrees studying railway engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and went on to a successful career in railway research, engineering practice, and policy with the Association of American Railroads. The scholarship is intended to provide financial assistance to help any civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering student achieve their educational goals in rail transportation engineering and technology with the objective of supporting development of a new generation of engineers advancing rail safety, efficiency, and technological advancement.

Michael W. & Jean D. Franke Family Foundation Scholarship

The scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student interested in railroad transportation engineering, as evinced by coursework, participation in rail research, and other railway engineering and transport related activities. The objective of the scholarship is to encourage the candidate to continue railway engineering studies and ultimately pursue a career in the rail-related transportation industry.

Norman and Mary Carlson Scholarship Fund

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

Canadian National (CN) Railway Transportation Scholarship

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

Barkan Speaker for Transportation and Sustainability Panel

Professor and RailTEC Director Chris Barkan was one of four panelists invited by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Energy and Environmental Law Society to discuss legal and policy issues around the topics of transportation and sustainability. The event, titled American Transportation Infrastructure in the Climate Change Era, was held on Thursday 25 February and attracted over 50 attendees.

The panel was a conversation about how the unique features of American government, business, and law intersect with the need for alternative methods of transportation, beyond personal automobiles powered by fossil fuels. Panelists included both Illinois professors as well as industry professionals. Click here to see a flyer from the event.

RailTEC Students Awarded Scholarships

Five RailTEC students were named winners of American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) Educational Foundation 2021 scholarships. Congratulations go out to Matt Parkes, Lee Evans, Geordie Roscoe, Brevel Holder and Jiaxi Zhao. These five students represent over a third of AREMA’s award recipients this year.

Over the past 19 years the AREMA Educational Foundation has helped over 400 engineering students by providing scholarships to those who are specializing in the railway industry. During this period RailTEC has received between one and twelve scholarships each year for a total of 115 awards. This year the scholarship program was restructured to create a more consistent generic AREMA Educational Foundation scholarship. For a complete list of 2021 winner names and their awarded scholarship, click here. To learn more about the AREMA Education Foundation scholarships, click here.

December Graduates

Congratulations go out to two of RailTEC’s graduate students. Leonel (Lee) Evans and Matheus Trizotto Silva both completed the necessary requirements to obtain their Master of Civil Engineering degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in December 2020. While with RailTEC both students participated in innovative rail research giving them an edge when starting their career after graduation. Lee obtained his BS in Civil Engineering from UIUC in 2019 while Matheus received his BS in Civil Engineering from the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Brazil in 2018.

Passing of Dr. Ernest J. Barenberg

Dr. Ernest J. Barenberg

It is with great sadness that RailTEC received news of the passing of Dr. Ernest J. Barenberg on January 19, 2021.  Dr. Barenberg, CEE professor emeritus and alumnus, was instrumental in establishing and growing the Railroad Engineering Program, the forerunner to the current Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC).

Starting in the early 1980’s, Dr. Barenberg continued the legacy of rail research and teaching at Illinois that had been under the leadership of the renown Dr. William W. Hay from 1947 to 1977.  Dr. Barenberg developed a program encompassing all aspects of rail engineering (civil, mechanical, and electrical). While the program funded many rail research projects across multiple departments, Dr. Barenberg’s primary interest was railroad track systems, given his deep understanding of the performance of concrete pavements and transportation facilities.

Dr. Barenberg served as director of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Affiliated Laboratory at Illinois from its inception in 1983 until his retirement in 1998, when Professor Christopher P.L. Barkan arrived at Illinois.

For Dr. Barenberg’s detailed obituary, please click here.