Since its establishment in 2000, the AREMA Educational Foundation has worked to promote educational activities related to railway engineering through a number of programs. It administers the Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) which helps to foster interest in adding railway engineering courses among university faculty. It is also responsible for the Watford Fellowship, which provides an opportunity for new railway employees to gain an international perspective on railroad design and engineering. Finally, the Foundation is responsible for the AREMA Scholarship Program which, in 2018, awarded 33 scholarships totaling $68,000.
These programs support those who represent the future of our association and the railway industry. It is vital that we encourage and engage them as they are the industry leaders of tomorrow.
Over the past 19 years, the Foundation has successfully helped over 400 of these future leaders to engage with AREMA and the railway industry but some challenges have arisen:
- There are a large number of scholarships - many of which have very specific requirements. At times, it is challenging to select qualified applicants that meet these requirements and it has become difficult for our volunteers to match applicants to each of the scholarships.
- The scholarship awards are generally under $2,000. Due to rising education costs, it has been recommended by the Foundation’s advisors that the award values be increased.
After comprehensive consideration, the Foundation’s Board has approved a plan to strategically grow the Foundation. Not only will the Foundation be able to offer expanded scholarship opportunities, but the new scholarship structure will also better position the Foundation to be more proactive in honoring donor support for the Foundation and meet the growing needs of its constituents. Key elements of this new plan that will be implemented in 2020 for the 2021 scholarship cycle are:
- Future endowments will continue to be accepted at a minimum of $50,000. Current endowments will not be changed in any way.
- Donations will be made to the Foundation’s General Fund. Donors will have the option to be recognized as providing funding in honor/memory of a designated person on the Foundation’s donor page. Procedures will be implemented to ensure that those remembered by donated funds are noted at the Annual Conference and that donors are acknowledged, if they desire to be named.
- The Foundation will offer general scholarships and will attempt to offer scholarships that distinguish the focus of AREMA’s Functional Groups (Communications & Signals, Engineering Services, Maintenance-of-Way, Passenger & Transit, Structures and Track).
- There will no longer be specifically named individual/Committee scholarships.
- At the end of the 2020 scholarship cycle, existing individually named/Committee scholarship funds that have not been allocated for a specific purpose will be pooled into the General Fund and distributed to fund scholarships in a manner that will meet donor intent as close as possible.
- When there are specific programs such as the Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) – funds to a specific program will be restricted funds as those funds will be for a specific purpose.
AREMA and the AREMA Educational Foundation Board are very appreciative and thankful for the donations and support received through the years. The Foundation has been very successful and has assisted many students with scholarships that have helped them reach their education goals. The Foundation will continue to be in a great position to help engineering students who specialize in the railway industry to meet their professional goals and to offer other opportunities to the railway industry. Thank you for your contributions to the Foundation and your continued support.