Ivy Leaf - Winter 2013

RTE Degree Gains Support


Penn State Altoona has received a $50,000 commitment from Keller Engineers, of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, to support the college’s Rail Transportation Engineering (RTE) program, a groundbreaking academic initiative designed to prepare students for placement and career advancement within the rail industry.

The gift will provide $25,000 for the purchase of essential lab equipment and $25,000 for the creation of an endowment for the program. This gift will contribute significantly to Penn State Altoona’s efforts to enhance the RTE program by creating transformational experiences within and beyond the classrooms and laboratories.

Penn State Altoona’s RTE program is the first of its kind in the nation. 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.

Keller Engineers, Inc., founded by Joseph G. Keller, PE, has seen steady growth since its inception in 1991 by providing civil and structural engineering as well as surveying and land development services to both the public and private sectors. Keller Engineers works mainly throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Twenty-six of their sixty employees, including Joe Keller, are Penn State graduates.

“Recently we have experienced a significant increase in railroad design work and feel the RTE program will be an excellent source of engineers for our company,” states Keller, a 1976 Penn State graduate and former Penn State Altoona student. “We are pleased to provide this opportunity to Penn State Altoona to invest in the future of our profession.”

Keller Engineers’ support for the RTE program will help Penn State Altoona play a vital role in training engineers for placement within the expanding 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 rail 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 environments. The program’s impact may expand beyond the baccalaureate degree with research support for the industry and additional educational offerings, such as degree completion via distance learning.