CN donates to Michigan Tech rail program, names Vena EVP/COO

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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Michigan Technological University

Canadian National donated $500,000 to Michigan Technological University's Rail Transportation Program (RTP) to create the CN Endowed Fellowship in Rail Transportation. This brings CN's total funding to the program to $750,000.

Building on the CN Rail Transportation Education Center that opened in 2010, the endowment will support rail transportation-related projects and research, as well as hardware and software resources for students and provide student scholarships.

“This is not only a generous gift from CN, but a strategic one,” said Bill Worek, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering. “Our students are highly sought after by industry and the combination of hands-on, discovery-based education, technical backgrounds and leadership abilities make them ideal for the challenges in the rail industry. CN is a valued partner and we greatly appreciate their support.”

Michigan Tech’s RTP attracts students from a wide range of degree programs and includes courses about rail transportation and engineering, as well as urban rail transit. The program hopes to establish a multi-disciplinary certificate in rail transportation and engineering.

CN’s donation marks one of the largest corporate gifts to Michigan Tech during its Generations of Discovery capital campaign.

“We are proud that our support of the Michigan Technological University Rail Transportation Program helps today’s students become tomorrow’s railroaders. The University provides its engineering students with a strong knowledge of railroading and the talented graduates and interns we have hired from this program in recent years have proven to be valuable assets to our company,” said Jim Vena, CN’s newly named executive vice president and chief operating officer, who will be based out of Montreal.

Replacing Vena as senior vice president, southern region, will be Jeff Liepelt, who is currently senior vice president, eastern region.

Vena joined CN in 1977 as a brakeman in Jasper, Alta. Liepelt also started his railroading career as a brakeman when he joined the Illinois Central Railroad in 1978 and has held positions of increasing responsibility at CN.

Within the leadership transition, Sameh Fahmy, senior vice president, engineering, mechanical and supply management, will retire from CN on March 31, 2013.

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