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It’s not difficult to understand why the RTE program has become a success. It provides in-depth teaching and hands-on course work by experienced faculty who have worked in the rail industry and continue to conduct research in the field. The program also offers immersive learning and out-of-the-classroom opportunities, plus support from an active advisory board, freight and passenger railroad, suppliers, and consulting companies. Finally, the 100% job placement rate is a big draw for students.
Laying the Program Tracks
Launched in 2011, the RTE degree prepares undergraduate students for the railway industry as engineering designers, managers, and professionals in various aspects of the railway, including civil engineering, mechanical and signal operations, railroad track design and maintenance, railway construction management, and railcar and locomotive design and maintenance.
The program grew out of a need to fill vacancies in the industry from managers and upper-level employees retiring over the past decade. Railroads, consulting companies and even state legislators approached Penn State Altoona with the idea of building this program and beginning to supply the workforce development gap with engineering professionals in the railroad industry.
An Advisory Board was created, comprised of diverse high-level professionals from various sectors of the railroad industry. “They’ve been crucial to the development and growth of the program by guiding the curriculum and providing in-kind support and funding,” says Bryan Schlake, instructor in RTE.
“We know that a rail-specific engineering program will generate graduates who meet the requirements of today’s railroad industry,” adds Gerhard Thelen, former Norfolk Southern Vice President Operations Planning and Support. “This program provides the basic and advanced skills and education for a successful life-time career and is the source of tomorrow’s leaders.”
Building on a mathematical and engineering foundation, students also have numerous opportunities for hands-on experience in labs, field instruction and research.
This article first appeared on www.railwayage.com
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