Tracks to the Future: Three universities join forces to attract future railroaders

For the past decade, Michigan Tech has offered a youth summer program for high-schoolers interested in rail transportation. This summer, the program will expand to campuses in Illinois and Pennsylvania. In this photo, students at Michigan Tech were participating in a hands-on learning activity. Peter LaMantia, Michigan Technological University

Three university rail transportation programs are teaming up to offer two weeks of summer sessions aimed at high-schoolers who are curious about the railroad business. 

Michigan Technological University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Penn State Altoona were recently awarded a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grant to help attract and prepare the next generation of railroaders. The result is “Tracks to the Future: Rail Transportation and Engineering,” a new educational experience that builds on the universities’ previous summer activities for youth interested in trains and railroading. 

To be offered this summer, Tracks to the Future will help high-school students learn about the high-tech and energy-efficient aspects of the rail industry through virtual and on-campus classroom sessions, hands-on activities and field visits to railroads and/or other rail facilities.  

Many children have a natural interest in trains, says Pasi Lautala, associate professor of civil, environmental and geospatial engineering, and director of the rail program at the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute. 


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