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Applicants flock to WMATA engineer Open House

When the economy takes a downturn, people usually are looking for work. But Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) recently found itself looking for workers because of a shortage of qualified help in hard-to-fill engineering and architecture positions.

The agency held an Open House Jan. 31 and hit gold.

Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., 114 people showed up to compete for nine positions, including vehicle rail car engineer, telecommunications engineer, manager of civil engineering for right of way, and bus equipment engineer. Attendees could apply for up to three jobs. In all, WMATA collected 183 resumes.

"We were really surprised," says Allan Lovell, WMATA recruiter.

Planners expected 30 or 40 attendees would attend and that they might fill four of the openings. After pre-interview screening, Lovell expects he’ll be able to fill seven of the openings. Some positions are union-represented, excluding management and supervisory positions.

And, most applicants came from the surrounding communities, although one came from as far away as Long Island, N.Y., 275 miles away. A nearby military installation sent a van with 16 officers.

Lovell and his team also were pleased to see several qualified female applicants vying for male-dominated positions.

Although one applicant from Norfolk Southern Railway showed up, Lovell hoped to see more, in light of NS’ job cuts.

The entire process should wrap up in about a month, he says.

"The caliber of the applicants was outstanding," says Lovell. "We plan to have another [Open House] in September."

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/12/2001