June 26-27, 2018 – Columbia, SC

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) is the railway industry’s professional organization that, among its other goals, promotes railway engineering education. In response to this challenge, through the auspices of the AREMA Educational Foundation, AREMA’s Education and Training Committee developed the Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) which began in 2008 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. REES is intended to foster interest among university faculty in railway engineering with the goal of encouraging and supporting their interest in adding railway engineering content to their current curriculum.
REES 2018 occurred June 26-27 at the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia, SC with 32 industry and educational institution attendees.  There were two days of instruction, which included input from industry leaders from various segments of the railway industry.  Discussions included industry needs related to hiring initiatives and what companies are looking for with the next generation of employees.  Universities that have a current railway curriculum were able to describe their programs and what they are doing to keep their students and the industry engaged.

Dr. Dimitris C. Rizos, Coordinator of the Advanced Railroad Technology Group and Associate Professor of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USC stated, “This year we were given the opportunity to host the REES 2018 event, the sixth in the series, at USC.  It was a tremendous honor for me and our program to stand alongside the people who selflessly gave me the encouragement and means to start the railway engineering program at USC and share our own experience of ‘dos and don’ts’ with each other and the next cohort of faculty.”

Tuesday evening included a welcome from the Dean of College of Engineering and Computing at USC, Hossein Haj-Hariri.  James K. Kessler, VP-Engineering and Planning with the North Carolina Railroad Company and AREMA Senior Vice President presented the keynote address, describing the history of the North Carolina Railroad Company and past and current projects.

The entire event was collaborative and provided a venue for sharing and learning about what others are doing with their programs.  On the final day of the event, there were presentations and discussions of undergraduate research and senior design projects.  A field tour took place on the afternoon of June 27 to Harsco Rail.  The tour of the plant was an opportunity to see rail manufacturing in person and how the equipment is used in the field.
New professors were provided with modules and insight on how to start a railway curriculum at their university.   Professors that had previously attended a REES event were given an opportunity to share their insights on their programs and how to keep moving forward with fostering the growth of railway engineering content and involvement.  The program was a success as participants were engaged and the learning environment was collaborative.  

“The 2018 gathering showed the great success of the REES program since 2008.  There is an all-time high availability of railway engineering degree programs, minors, certificate programs and AREMA student chapters.  A microcosm of this growth was our gracious host, USC.  Dr. Dimitris Rizos was a new attendee in 2010 and now USC has a Railroad Engineering Graduate Certificate, an Advanced Railroad Technology Group performing research and an active AREMA student chapter,” said Michael A. Pochop, Vice President Hanson Professional Services Inc. and REES Project Manager.

A special thank you to USC and the faculty/students that were involved that helped make the event a huge success.  In addition, thank you to Harsco Rail for providing an in-depth field tour experience.  We would like to recognize the Educational Institutions that were involved in the program and thank them for their involvement:  

California State University, Fullerton
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Governors State University
Kansas State University
Michigan Technological University
Oregon State University
Penn State University
Purdue University
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
South Dakota State University
Southern Illinois University
University of Arizona
University of British Columbia
University of Evansville
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
University of Mississippi
University of South Alabama
University of South Carolina
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
University of Texas at Austin
Villanova University