The University of Illinois Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) has utilized a 2019 education grant from the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) to develop a guidebook to raise awareness among school-age children about railway engineering and construction career opportunities.
RailTEC recently completed its “Guidebook for Railway-themed K-12 STEM Outreach Activities” and is distributing it to railway museums and kindergarten-through-grade 12 (K-12) educators who have inquired about rail-focused activities. The NRC and the National University Rail(NURail) Center (a former USDOT University Transportation Center) provided the funding to complete the guidebook, which was developed to address the projected high demand for future railway workers.
“We are honored that the NRC gave us this opportunity,” says Dr. C. Tyler Dick, a lecturer and principal railway research engineer with RailTEC at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “We strongly believe the types of activities described in the guidebook will go a long way towards raising youth awareness of railway engineering and construction career opportunities and helping ensure a future workforce of railway professionals.”
NRC President Ashley Wieland says the RailTEC’s work is perfectly aligned with the intent of the grant program.
“The NRC’s education grant program is targeted to the students and education and research efforts at colleges, universities or technical schools within the United States with a railway construction, railway engineering or construction management program," says Wieland. "It was established to positively impact the future of the railroad construction and maintenance industry and to attract promising young people to the workforce.”
NRC Education Committee Chairman Daniel Stout, who serves as vice president of STX Railroad Construction Services, reports the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Michigan Technological University are 2019 recipients of education grants.
“These schools are not only educating the next generation of students and preparing them for industry advancements, they also are investing in resources that will help the railway industry attract and train qualified employees for the future. The NRC is truly proud to support these types of endeavors,” says Stout.
Educators and institutions interested in obtaining a copy of the RailTEC guidebook may download it at this link: https://railtec.illinois.edu/academics/other-educational-activities/k-12-stem-outreach/. The guidebook contains descriptions of educational activities designed to introduce students to the railroad transportation mode through the lens of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts.
Colleges, universities, and technical schools within the United States with a railway construction, railway engineering or construction management program are eligible to apply for NRC education grants. More information on future grant opportunities will be announced on the NRC website. The NRC has the only association education grant program specific to the rail industry.
The NRC is a U.S. trade association that advances the mutual interests of railway contractors and suppliers who construct, maintain and supply freight railroads and rail-transit and passenger lines. Founded in 1978, the NRC connects members with other railway industry professionals and government officials and policy makers. Together we work to create a positive business climate and to make railway construction and maintenance safer and more efficient.
“The NRC, aside from being the voice and representation of the railroad contracting industry, provides many great benefits to its members. One such benefit is our annual tuition assistance or Scholarship program. Since 2013, the NRC has offered this program to eligible children and grandchildren of NRC member companies. This past year, we were able to provide assistance to (6) students totaling $33,000. It is an honor to be a part of this and is truly gratifying to be able to invest in the futures of these promising students and to consistently hear how much they appreciate it.”
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