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Rail News Home People

July 2021

Rail News: People

Rising Stars 2021: Nicole Ochroch

Nicole Ochroch


Nicole Ochroch, 33
Associate engineer
Delaware River Port Authority/ Port Authority Transit Corporation

Nominator's quote: "Nicole's passion for environmental stewardship is a major driving force of sustainability at the Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO). She is committed to enhancing our transportation assets' operations in a manner that is environmentally sound, sustainable and that creates values for the public we serve. Nicole is a natural leader and a collaborative team player in the engineering department. She is highly dependable and is always looking to share knowledge across the department." — Mike Williams, Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA)

Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.S., civil engineering; University of Pittsburgh, M.S. and Ph.D degrees in civil engineering with a focus on sustainable and green design.

Job responsibilities: DRPA owns and operates four major toll bridges and a 14-mile rapid transit line (PATCO) between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. Primary responsibilities include managing design and construction contracts for the DRPA/PATCO. In addition, manage DRPA's organizational-wide asset management program and the PATCO biennial inspection.

Recent and ongoing projects include a 22-MW solar installation across seven sites with interconnection to the PATCO transmission line; rehabilitation design of two PATCO station platforms; and various architectural improvements at three PATCO stations. In addition, transitioning into a project manager role for a new 18-mile light-rail system that is in the preliminary design phase.

How did you get into the railroad industry? I was introduced to rail when I began working at the DRPA/PATCO.

What is the best career advice you've received? The best career advice I have received from both academic and industry mentors is to stay a lifelong learner, continuously advancing what you know and getting out of your comfort zone.

What advice would you give to a new railroader? Stay curious, ask questions and get out on-site whenever possible.

What was your very first job? Camp counselor.

Describe a fun fact about yourself. I love practicing and teaching yoga. In fact, I would teach power and prenatal yoga at a local studio several times a week in addition to my DRPA responsibilities.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I love being in the great outdoors, playing with my dog Louie, and enjoying all the restaurants in Philadelphia.

What is the rail industry's biggest challenge? The rail industry's biggest challenges include managing aging infrastructure, unpredictable funding sources, and the lag between technological innovation and industry adoption.

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