Development of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Railroad Engineering Course

RHIT Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2012-RHIT-E01
Project TitleDevelopment of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Railroad Engineering Course
UniversityRose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Principal InvestigatorJim McKinney
PI Contact
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)USDOT NURail Center $20,000
Total Project Cost$
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT12-G-UTC18 (Grant 1)
Start Date2012-02-01
End Date2014-01-31
Brief Description of Research ProjectDevelopment of a quarter long (40 class meetings) introductory interdisciplinary undergraduate Railroad Engineering course suitable as technical elective for Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering undergraduate students. The course will include civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering topics relevant to railroad engineering. Course topics to include (but not limited to): introduction to the railroad industry; railroad infrastructure; rail systems; curves and gradients; track systems; switches and turnouts; maintenance of way; railroad power; locomotives and rolling stock; signaling; grade crossings; operational safety systems; passenger rail, and future opportunities. In addition students will be exposed to the rail industry through: guest speakers; attendance at professional railroad meetings; field trips; student professional society meetings; local historical rail groups and museums; as well as outreach to secondary students.
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)Many undergraduate engineering students lack the opportunity to enroll in a technical course that exposes
them to the railroad industry and associated career opportunities. The Rose-Hulman proposal addresses
this need for undergraduate engineering students majoring in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering by
developing and offering an Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Railroad Engineering course.

Year 1 : A portion of the proposed course is currently offered as part of an existing course - CE 481 Transportation Engineering. A faculty member from mechanical engineering, electrical and computer
engineering, as well as civil engineering will work during the summer of 2012 to develop a new Interdisciplinary Railroad Engineering course, incorporating the existing CE 481 railroad materials with new class modules and exercises. The course will be offered for the first time in the spring quarter of 2013.

Year 2: Based on the feedback and evaluation of the new course the faculty will use the summer of 2013 to revise and enhance the course for delivery in the spring of 2014. Following the evaluation of the spring 2014 course class materials will be made available to other engineering programs interested in offering an undergraduate Interdisciplinary Railroad Engineering course.

Students: Railroad industry officials, government agencies and consulting engineering practitioners will be invited as to address the Railroad Engineering class as well as other student professional society meetings. Field trips to railroad operations and professional society meetings will allow students to experience the industry first hand. Opportunities for summer internships, formal co-op programs, and permanent employment in the railroad industry and associated consulting companies, and government agencies will be a major student goal. Additionally, students will be encouraged to form an AREMA Student Chapter; provide a railroad outreach program to area secondary schools, as well as encouraged to work with the Terre Haute Haley Tower Historical and Technical Society,
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)Introduction to Railroad Engineering class: 20 X 2 years = 40 undergraduates
Technical presentations 30 X 2 meetings x 2 years = 120 undergraduates
Field Trips 20 X 2 Trips x 2 years = 80 undergraduates
ARENA 6 X 2 years = 12 undergraduates
High school presentations 30 X 2 years = 60 secondary
Web Links
Project Website
Final ReportNURail2012-RHIT-E01_Final_Report_2-29-20161.pdf