Rail Transportation Engineering - Penn State Altoona

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Rail Transportation Engineering

My Penn State Altoona


Shelby Stigers, '15

  • Rail Transportation Engineering major
  • Sidman, PA

"Being part of the RTE program is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve had the opportunity to conduct research, present my paper at a conference in Colorado, have it published, and meet leaders in the industry. The future looks very promising for me and my fellow RTE grads."


The Rail Transportation Engineering degree at Penn State Altoona provides an opportunity to participate in the worldwide resurgence of rail transportation. We have created a real engineering degree for serious students who see their future in an area that is drawing increasing public attention. Executives in the transit industry, project managers, consulting engineers, and government officials have all told us of the need to hire engineers with the kind of training that Penn State Altoona now offers. If you are interested in the role of railroads in protecting the environment or fighting highway congestion, this is the program for you. If you want to be a part of a developing passenger rail system in this country, you will need the training that Penn State Altoona now offers.

Program Highlights

Rail Transportation Engineering majors pursue a curriculum based upon Civil Engineering, but with added courses related specifically to transportation and rail.

Students will take three hands-on courses (which we call "practica") allowing them to work with real railroad equipment. One practicum relates to track, one to cars and locomotives, and one to the operation of trains. Students will use modern equipment to learn the fundamentals of train operations. They will work on the ground with real track and real locomotives, and will work to solve the real problems of active railroading.

At the same time, students will be learning how to use the advanced mathematical tools expected of all engineers, and they will experience the full range of basic engineering courses. Topics include materials science, statics, dynamics, structures, and an array of offerings designed to teach how and why things work.

Moreover, the Rail Transportation Engineering Program offers training in business fundamentals to enable the student to see how railroads connect with society at large and how and why railroads are useful. The student will take courses in the history and regulatory structure of railroads, accounting, and project management. Woven into these courses will be units on Labor Relations, the relationship between railroads and the federal, state, and local governments and an introduction to the real estate issues affecting railroads.

Altoona is a center of railroad activity, with major railroad shops as well as the widely-respected Altoona Railroader's Memorial Museum. In addition, the city is located at the foot of the famous Horseshoe Curve, where the main line from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh climbs the Allegheny escarpment. If you have strong academic credentials and an interest in the resurgent railroad field, consider joining us at Penn State Altoona to obtain your four-year degree in Rail Transportation Engineering.

For more information:

Stephen Dillen

Mr. Stephen L. Dillen

Instructor in Electrical Engineering
Business and Engineering

Office: 103F Sheetz Family Health Center
Phone: 814-940-3331
Email: @psu.edu

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