MxV Rail is thrilled to host University Days again in Pueblo, Colorado.
University researchers, graduate students, and undergrads from all over the country will have the chance to explore careers and experience “a day in the life” in railroad research. This year we will see universities with well-established railroad engineering programs and newcomers wanting to participate in our research.
University support and student programming for up-and-coming engineers have been part of the AAR’s Strategic Research Initiatives (SRI) program for decades. In 2019, we expanded AAR’s program to be more inclusive, making University Days open to colleges and students nationwide. The last pre-pandemic event was a great success, full of discovery and problem solving between the students, MxV Rail’s team and the Class I railroads.
Unfortunately, plans for 2020 were put on hold in the interest of public health. Many disappointed students and university researchers reached out saying they were eager to be in the field. This eagerness is why MxV Rail is excited to bring University Days back this August.
About a dozen MxV Rail team members are dedicated to University Days, representing all our technical areas of expertise and service to the railways. From track and structures to rolling stock and everything in between, we enjoy sharing our knowledge and introducing students to the exciting opportunities in rail research, including careers that are not widely known. Throughout the program, we hope to demonstrate how students’ individual talents can contribute not just to the rail industry but to the greater public good.
This year’s event starts with a mini-symposium at the Pueblo Convention Center, where MxV Rail industry experts will present their latest research. Students will have direct access to researchers and investigators, and they will learn first-hand the activities and advances that leaders in the field are pursuing to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.
We also have guest speakers from the AAR SRI Research Committee and representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) attending. These speakers provide students with an insider’s view of advancements in the industry and the importance of railroading in North America. There is time in the schedule for networking, mentoring and discussing research with peers or advisors. The in-person collaboration also strengthens strategic relationships across MxV Rail, universities, railroads, suppliers and regulators.
AAR members recognize the value of long-term research. As part of the SRI program, MxV Rail considers proposals and administers grants for research focused on the grand challenges in railway technology. AAR’s Research Committee, comprised primarily of Class I railroads and industry suppliers, develop grand challenge topics.
There are many fascinating problems in railroad engineering and a few rise to the level of being grand challenges significant to all of us. These problems include in-motion inspection for complete rail sections, wheel rim and tread, and axles. Adapting available technology in an automated way is complicated because of the access issues and the physics, which is why we want the brightest minds seeking solutions. When we are able to perform in-motion inspections on these railway components, it will make significant strides toward improving the railways’ safety, reliability, and efficiency.
When we gather at University Days, the answer to a grand challenge problem could be in the room. Many students attending are part of University teams working on grand challenge projects now. By providing first-hand exposure to the latest industry innovations, and the science behind research for the North American railroads, MxV Rail’s team serves as collaborators and education supporters. We eagerly contribute to the momentum that these students carry forward into careers and are honored to be a part of the journey.
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