A successful Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) was held June 11-13 in Overland Park, Kan. REES 2012 brought together 28 "student professors" and 21 instructors, who represented more than 30 universities from both the United States and Canada.
The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) first put together the REES program in 2008 as a way to promote railway engineering education. The symposium has convened every two years and REES 2012 is the third time the event has been held.
According to AREMA, “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 engineering courses and curricula.”
At REES 2012, attendees were given an overview of the North American railway industry, discussed the increased demand for railway transportation and resulting need for engineers to enter in careers in the railway industry, given an understanding of the importance of railway education in engineering curricula, given railway engineering course presentation material including PowerPoint presentations, homework and exam questions, participated in a roundtable discussion of current North American railway engineering course offerings and research projects, as well as a group discussions on railway research funding and publication possibilities.
“It was an excellent program. My goal was to add content to my Transportation Engineering course. REES provided an incredible amount of information in a short time,” one attendee wrote on their end-of-symposium survey.
Another wrote, “This was an excellent symposium for me. It was sharply focused on the topics and made clear not only what is available for educators, but also how much of a need there is for new engineers.”
While all attendees participated in general presentations, new at REES 2012 were two content modules, one for first-time attendees and one for the 10 returning attendees. The module for returning attendees furthered rail engineering concepts and exposed attendees to train operation, railroad capacity, shared corridor challenges and high-speed engineering, among others.
In addition to presentations, attendees also saw the BNSF Argentine Yard where they visited the dispatching office, hump yard and operational tower. For those REES members who had extra time, a tour of the BNSF training facilities at Johnson County Community College was also included.
Putting on an event of this nature takes coordination among many parties. Those involved in making REES 2012 a success include AREMA staff, AREMA Committee 24, the Rail Transportation Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the member universities of the National University Rail Center (NURail).