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October 2013

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RTE Advisory Board Distinguished by Leaders of Rail Industry

RTE Advisory Board

Penn State Altoona’s Rail Transportation Engineering baccalaureate degree program achieved another milestone with the formation of the RTE Advisory Board in early October.

The Advisory Board’s mission is to “stimulate and nurture an academic program that provides diverse graduates with technical and ethical competence and the leadership skills needed to secure a fulfilling career supporting the rail industry.”

“The stars are aligned for RTE. The railroads need engineers and today’s students like the fact that railroads are green and once again growing.”

Charles N. Marshall, consultant, Penn State Altoona RTE program; and retired vice chairman, Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.

The sixteen volunteer leaders of the Advisory Board are:

  • Chad Anderson, regional chief engineer, Southern Region, Canadian National Railroad;
  • Ron Batory, president and chief operating officer, Conrail;
  • R. Scott Goehri, senior vice president and global director of freight railroads, HDR Engineering, Inc.;
  • Joel Hollander, president and chief executive officer, Altoona Pipe and Steel Supply Company and Altoona Railcar Repair;
  • Pat Illig II, president and general manager, Electric Motor and Supply, Inc.;
  • Joseph G. Keller, founder, Keller Engineers, Inc.;
  • Steven Klug, assistant vice president, human resources, BNSF Railway Company;
  • Richard J. Lobron, chief, Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development Business Line, Amtrak;
  • Charles N. Marshall, consultant, Penn State Altoona RTE program; and retired vice chairman, Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.
  • Michael T. McNamara, president, Gannett Fleming Transit & Rail Systems;
  • Phil Merilli, assistant vice president, maintenance of way and structures, Norfolk Southern;
  • Joe Santamaria, vice president, engineering, operating services, Union Pacific Railroad;
  • Lisa A. Stabler, president, Transportation Technology Center, Inc.
  • Dave Staplin, deputy chief engineer, track, Amtrak;
  • Gerhard Thelen, retired vice president, operations planning and support, Norfolk Southern;
  • John L. West, vice president, engineering, CSX Transportation.

“Both the RTE program and Penn State Altoona are honored and privileged to be working with such a knowledgeable and enthusiastic board, as we grow our program for the future,” said Dr. Barbara A. Wiens-Tuers, head of the Division of Business and Engineering at Penn State Altoona. “The board is comprised of both local and national leaders in the railroad and railroad-related industries. The meeting was characterized by lively discussions and input from our board members as we shared our vision of the program’s future.”

“RTE promises to be transformational for Penn State Altoona. The students come from all over North America, just like the jobs they will some day fill.”

Charles N. Marshall, consultant, Penn State Altoona RTE program; and retired vice chairman, Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.

The Advisory Board elected the following officers by unanimous vote: Gerhard Thelen, chair; R. Scott Goehri, vice chair; and Richard Lobron, secretary.

“I am excited about the RTE program,” said Thelen. “It is the first railroad engineering degree program within the last fifty years in the United States, and it meets the needs of modern railroad engineering and management development. I expect this program to be the template for similar programs throughout the country. It has the potential to fill the need for qualified candidates for railroad management and engineering for North American railroads. The Advisory Board consists of senior leaders from the rail industry, who will help to steer the program in the right direction.”

The Rail Transportation Engineering program is a groundbreaking academic initiative designed to prepare students for placement and career advancement within the rail industry. Created in direct response to demographic shifts that have resulted in the loss of highly trained senior railroad engineers in recent years, the program provides students with a unique multi-disciplinary experience that emphasizes the study, development, and application of new and emerging technologies impacting the rail industry.

Penn State’s Civil Engineering four-year degree program provides a strong technical foundation for the RTE program with existing civil engineering courses. These courses are coupled with new customized courses in business, mechanical systems, track, operations and safety, communications and signals, and industry regulation. Students also gain an invaluable perspective on the industry’s history, culture, and financial, regulatory and labor environment.

“RTE is a pioneering undergraduate program,” said Marshall, who has worked with the RTE program since its inception. “Other universities offer a few rail courses or emphasize graduate studies. We are aiming at undergraduates who want to make railroads their career. RTE takes Civil Engineering back to its railroad roots. The railroads of today carry heavier loads of freight and passengers at higher speed than ever before. Trained engineers are badly needed to make further advances possible.”