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Job description: As practice lead for freight-rail facilities, Walicki oversees and manages the design of railroad buildings and support facilities, including administration offices, car repair shops, locomotive service buildings and secondary containment. Walicki also oversees all transportation work for AECOM's Norfolk Southern Railway account, including the railroad’s pipe and wire program. Walicki also performs design-related work for NS' bridges and structures.
Education: Bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and architectural engineering from Drexel University
Nominator’s quote: “Within AECOM, Matt is one of the project managers that people want to work for; he makes other engineers want to do their best work while empowering his team members with confidence. … Matt’s leadership skills are impressive, even at such an early stage in his career.” — Earl Wacker, AECOM
How did you end up in the railroad business?
I never set out to join the railroad industry. My background was structural engineering. As a student at Drexel University, I was given the opportunity to perform three separate six-month co-op cycles in the engineering industry. I took my first co-op in 2001 working for AECOM's freight group and found myself helping to establish AECOM’s program management system to handle Norfolk Southern Railway's pipe and wire program. This was not too long after Conrail had split its assets between NS and CSX, and I was fortunate to work at AECOM with a number of former Conrail employees. This gave me a unique exposure to the railroad industry. I wound up working my next two co-ops in AECOM's freight group assisting on a variety of project types and stayed on part time until my graduation in 2005.
What is a little-known fact about you?
If I wasn’t in the engineering field, I most likely would be working in the culinary arts field. I spent a few years working in restaurants as a cook and debated up until the last minute between culinary school and engineering.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of so far?
The development of our freight-rail facilities team. Four years ago, we were presented with an opportunity to perform building design for a Class I. After many senior project managers who were not familiar with the work passed on this opportunity, I stepped up to take on the challenge. From this one opportunity, we were able to build a team leveraging the in-house expertise that AECOM has throughout the company, and to develop a national practice that continues to grow today.
What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to be doing something completely different from what I am currently doing in the railroad industry. The best part of the industry for me is the great diversity it presents for career opportunities. In the next five years, I am looking forward to learning about an area of railroading that I previously haven't been exposed to.
What would you say to convince someone to consider railroading as a career?
If you like to solve unique and complex problems, and if you want to work in a dynamic industry that is constantly moving and changing, then railroading is a perfect career opportunity.
What do you enjoying doing when you’re not at work?
Enjoying as much time as possible with my wife and three kids, preferably on a beach somewhere.
Arthur Adams Jr.
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