2022 RT&S Women in Railroad Engineering list is revealed

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
image description
2022 RT&S Women in Railroad Engineering recipient Cherita Hunter Jones from Norfolk Southern.
Kris Brown/Norfolk Southern

Lunchtime has forever been the moment of reveal, but the pull does not always have to follow tradition.

Norfolk Southern’s Cherita Hunter Jones wanted other female workers to have a more productive takeaway during the mid-day break, and started a lunch and learn to give women trainees a space to ask about their roles without the men being in the room. Hunter Jones was one of only five women in field Communications and Signals at Norfolk Southern at the time of her hire, and this sparked a passion for encouraging and empowering other women entering the industry.
For her efforts, Hunter Jones has now entered the hall of legends along with nine others who were named to the 2022 RT&S Women in Railroad Engineering list. The summary of each winner, in no particular order, follows.

Cherita Hunter Jones
Regional Manager, Communications & Signals
Norfolk Southern

What the nominator said:
Hunter Jones’ lunch and learn has grown into the Women in Operations Task Force at Norfolk Southern. Under her guidance, WiO brought together a passionate group of employees dedicated to assist in the retention and development of diverse talent within several Norfolk Southern Operations Groups, including Transportation, Engineering, and Mechanical. In addition, Hunter Jones collected data that informed and improved recruiting strategies, onboarding and training at NSTC, on-the-job field training, and retention efforts for women in the field. She also made recommendations for mentoring programs after finding that 94% of participants desired mentors. These and other valuable metrics and insights provided to human resources and the Board of Directors helped shape corporate recruiting strategies for women in the operations groups it served. For Hunter Jones, the success of WiO was demonstrated when Norfolk Southern counted 55 women in field operations in reports from August to November 2014. This was quite a shift from when she left field operations as one of the only two women at that time. Most recently, she led the launch of Norfolk Southern’s new Remedy Mobile App. This app can be used to manage a ticket and allow supervisors, manintenance employees, and dispatch to track an issue and its ownership from submission to completion. By early 2022, Hunter Jones expanded the app’s usage beyond the Communications and Signals group to add the Bridges and Structures group. Currently, the Remedy Mobile App has more than 1,000 users and has logged more than 116,000 interactions (May 2020-March 2022).

Desirae (Rae) Faber
Manager of Standards and Training
Modern Railway Systems

What the nominator said:
While she started as a field engineer, Faber eventually took over as the project manager for the $206 million design-build SMART Commuter Rail project for Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit in northern California. The 41-mile project consisted of the removal and reconstruction of track, 30 miles of which were in an active freight corridor. Faber’s team coordinated construction around the freight railroad’s schedule to avoid any unplanned impacts to their operations. The scope included 45 miles of ballasted track, 10 bridge replacements and 16 retrofits, extensive drainage work (~100 culverts), 48 public and 18 private grade crossings, and eight station substructures. The entire project was located in a biologically and culturally sensitive area, requiring strict attention to environmental permit windows. She was instrumental in helping this transit agency successfully complete safety certification and integrated testing. Since transitioning to Modern Railway Systems (MRS), her experience in track construction, signals, and communications systems has made her an invaluable member of the company’s leadership. Faber’s contributions have impacted how the company operates, trains its employees, and delivers projects. Faber and her team support MRS’s signal and communication testing and design teams with process development, rigorous procedures, and verification and validation reports. She is a key individual for the FRA-required Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation on projects, providing support with technical troubleshooting and FRA PTC procedures, plans, test documentation, and reports.
She, along with other company leaders, developed a Rail Activation and Systems Integration Team which lays out the foundation for the startup of any new rail system.

Cassandra (Cassie) Gouger
Senior Director, Design
Union Pacific Railroad

What the nominator said:
Gouger started with Union Pacific (UP) in 2011 as a design manager. Her strategic project management and leadership skills have led her to now overseeing the entire UP Design group. Gouger’s team manages all aspects of projects from concept to estimation, design, permitting, coordination, and project management to completion. Some of her most notable projects were imperative to UP’s recent strategic evolution of its transportation plan, specifically focused on siding projects supporting increased and new network traffic patterns. Her leadership, ability to challenge the status quo, and strategic development allow for these projects to be completed in a timelier, cost-effective manner improving service and business performance. In addition to significant siding projects, her group oversees projects driven by UP’s Strategy team, such as “Intermodal Pop-Ups.” The pop-ups are a new initiative allowing the Operating and Marketing & Sales teams to pilot infrastructure and service with customers in key locations before making significant capital investment. These strategic projects stretch Gouger and her team to develop and deliver solutions and are made possible under her leadership. Outside of work, Gouger remains engaged with the AREMA chapter at her alma mater, Purdue University, dedicating time and providing mentorship to the next generation of women interested in rail careers. Gouger regularly presents STEM-related topics to local elementary school students, focusing on developing an interest in young female students early in their education.

Mehwish Rahman
Field Manager, Geotechnical Engineering
Canadian Pacific

What the nominator said:
Rahman is a professional engineer with over 12 years of geotechnical design and field experience in tunneling, urban infrastructures, and railway. Some of Rahman’s recent notable work within CP involves: Leading and advising on the geotechnical aspect of design and construction of railway embankment at Tank Hill (Lytton, BC) during the post-November 2021 British Columbia washouts. Rahman also attended and supported other locations across CP’s Cascade and Thompson subdivisions that were damaged due to washouts, landslides, and debris flows; in August 2021, Rahman provided on-call site support during heavy rainfall warnings on post-wildfire assessments and recommendations on CP’s Thompson Sub (Lytton, BC) to the Vancouver Engineering Division; Rahman successfully led the completion and response to a landslide-caused derailment in July 2020, requiring emergent design/construction of the remedial solution. She executed and managed this project to a timely completion on budget and scope, including remediation and installation of a real-time monitoring system that continues to operate to this day; in September 2020, Rahman led an emergent slope failure response on CP’s Thompson subdivision. She attended the site and led the remedial efforts with support from CP’s geotech consultant and division personnel. Rahman started her geotechnical career in 2009 in tunneling in Washington D.C., where she worked as a geotechnical engineer on the largest project in the history of Washington, D.C., public works: the DC Water’s Clear Rivers Project. This project comprised of several miles of tunnels under Potomac and Anacostia rivers and land.

Morgan Moldoff
Senior Rail Engineer
Saratoga Railroad Engineering

What the nominator said:
Moldoff is responsible for developing and evaluating rail alignment alternatives with unique site constraints, high-speed rail design, yard design, grade crossings, and preparing site-specific details for plans. She has managed projects with private railroads as well as state agencies, including the New York State Department of Transportation and VTrans. Moldoff was the lead rail engineer on multiple Capital Region projects including the Albany-Schenectady Double Track and Rensselaer Station 4th Track and Schenectady Station Concrete and Structures design, and she served as the rail coordinator for the Hunts Point Improvement Project located in the Bronx, N.Y. Moldoff has mentored junior engineers and assisted with training and staff development for various MicroStation elements used for design throughout her career. Moldoff’s projects have won an ACEC N.Y. Engineering Excellence Gold Award and Project of the Year from the Upstate New York Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Moldoff is a member of the American Railway Engineer & Maintenance-of-Way Association. She also has taken dozens of specialized training classes from Railroad Contractor Safety, Thermal Forces & CWR, NORAC, Roadway Worker Protection, and 3-D CADD to ensure that she has the most current information and training to excel and lead teams working on complex railway projects. Moldoff dedicates approximately 300 hours per year to the Future City Competition, a hands-on, real-world learning experience for middle school students to learn how engineers shape the world we live in.

Nicole Jackson
Senior Project Manager
Alfred Benesch & Company

What the nominator said:
Jackson has been instrumental in advancing grade crossing safety throughout the U.S. and Canada. She works with numerous railroads, transit agencies, public agencies, and regulatory authorities. To date, she has been involved in engineering improvements and safety assessments at over 1,500 grade crossings. She is a recognized leader in the railroad industry in the U.S. and Canada and is committed to saving lives at grade crossings. She is licensed as a professional engineer in 37 states and four Canadian provinces. Jackson has a passion for her work in railroad safety and is dedicated to the task of saving lives through good engineering practices at grade crossings. Jackson is actively involved in mentoring young engineers and advancing their careers toward obtaining their professional engineering license. She also participates in an engineering mentorship and awareness program at the local high school to encourage interested students to pursue an engineering career.

Rae Brown
Director, Network Operations Center and Communications Operations
CSX

What the nominator said:
Since joining the CSX Communications and Signals Engineering team in 2002, Brown has ascended to positions of increasing responsibility both at CSX and in the rail industry. In her current position, she leads the Network Operations team that is responsible for managing and monitoring more than 40,000 field devices. Among her accomplishments, she helped ensure installation of PTC communications for 130-plus subdivisions ahead of the FRA deadline; she directed installation of multi-million-dollar tunnel radio systems for distributed power over high-priority corridors; and she has a key role in the introduction and maintenance of communications for remote control locomotive operations. She is responsible for the system radio support center at CSX and was instrumental in the launch of the Short Line Radio Repair partnership that has been ongoing for 14 years. She serves on the rail industry’s Equipment Assets Committee’s subcommittee for end-of-train device management, and she served on the industry’s Wireless Communications Committee for standardizing narrowbanding technology. Brown is an alumna of the National African American Women’s Leadership Institute and a member of the CSX Social Justice Advisory Roundtable, which is leading the development and implementation of strategies to support social justice and racial equity both inside the company and in the community. In addition to being instrumental in diversity and inclusion at CSX, she has had an impact in the community as a member of the Pace Center for Girls Board of Directors for nine years, through participating in Believing in Girls activities and through volunteering with Rethreaded, an organization that supports human trafficking survivors.

Kimberly Ong
Executive Officer
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

What the nominator said:
For the last three years, Ong has been the Project Executive for Section 3 of the Westside Purple (D) Line Extension project which is a subterranean heavy rail transit project in Los Angeles. The project comprises 2.5 miles of twin-bored rail guideway and two underground stations on the west side of Los Angeles. She is responsible for the delivery of the project including design and construction of the guideways and stations. Prior to this she was the Design Executive with LA Metro responsible for the delivery of the Crenshaw LAX Light Rail Transit Project, which is a complex system comprising undergound, surface and elevated guideways and stations, and a connection with the existing Metro Green Line, which will open to the public later this year. On completion this line will enable Los Angelinos to finally access the LAX Airport by rail transit by utilizing the Airport Automated People Mover. Ong is an active participant in industry and professional organizations including WTS and internal organizations that encourage women to enter and advance within the transportation industry. She has been a serial presenter on aspects of rail transit planning, design, and construction at various conferences and seminars, including the American Public Transportation Association, the American Underground Association, the American Society of Engineers, and the Construction Management Association of America. She drives the project in not only delivering the project on time, but at early stages she ensures that the Metro Rail Operations staff is properly informed about decisions and the system they will be operating, and also that the complex systems integration is considered throughout the design and construction process and not left as an afterthought once things are constructed.

Temple Overman
Bridge Project Manager
HNTB

What the nominator said:
Overman was promoted to the role of project manager for HNTB in January 2022, a position she earned a year earlier than is typical at the company. Her supervisor, Manab Medhi, said Overman’s work performance has placed her ahead of the curve. A key example is Overman’s service as a resident engineer overseeing the reconstruction of a 2,711-ft BNSF approach bridge to the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. At the time, she had less than five years of engineering experience, but she volunteered when HNTB was looking for a professional engineer to fill the role. Overman moved to and resided in Memphis for two years during the bridge’s construction, which used accelerated bridge construction techniques. Overman handled daily oversight of construction activities, reviewing submittals, tracking work completed for payment applications, and leading weekly progress update meetings with the client and contractor. The completed bridge was a merit award winner in the American Institute of Steel Construction/National Steel Bridge Alliance Prize Bridge Competition. For three years, Overman served as chair of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association’s Committee 8’s Subcommittee 3, which reviews and updates waterproofing requirements and concrete materials specified for use in the design and construction of railroad bridges. Specifically, Overman led her subcommittee in updating Chapter 8, parts 1 and 29, in the AREMA manual. Of particular note is the subcommittee’s update of part 29 for cold liquid waterproofing, a section that had not been updated in many years. The code provides guidelines for material properties required in waterproofing products.

Megan Tang
Chief Engineering Officer
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)

What the nominator said:
Tang helped secure a 2020 BUILD Grant for two TRE double tracking projects which awarded the full requested amount of $25 million. The total TRE double tracking projects were estimated at a cost of $52.5 million. In 2020, she coordinated with the Texas Department of Transportation and had the signed TxDOT-TRE master agreement to utilize federal Section 130 funds for at-grade crossing safety improvement projects for the entire TRE Corridor. Since 2020, DART has had four at-grade crossings approved to utilize this funding and one of the crossings was completed with safety improvements in May of this year. Tang teaches volunteers for the Formosa Association of Student Cultural Ambassadors (FASCA) to help teenagers become distinguished Asian Americans. Through a variety of activities, they learn through leadership, teamwork, community service, and cultural experience to expand their world view. As a teacher, Tang assists to develop their cultural awareness and uncover their potential. She also is an authorized volunteer for Operation Lifesaver to deliver the message to the general public for highway-rail grade crossing safety and rail trespass preventions in various communities. As TRE Chief Engineering Officer, she manages the resources and activities of the operations and maintenance contractors, subcontractors, and third parties involved in inspection, maintenance, design, and construction activities along the TRE right-of-way.

Read more articles on track construction.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Media