Growing up in a suburb of Milwaukee I always knew I wanted to find a job with an outdoor element. Summer jobs farming, landscaping and surveying reinforced that feeling. After graduating from high school I applied to and was accepted by Michigan Tech in the Civil Engineering program. While at Tech I was involved with Filmboard and Concrete Canoe. I hadn’t considered railroading as an option until I took the transportation, public transit, and construction classes required for my degree … but those sparked my interest. Having my friend Chad Scherwinski take a position with BNSF four months before my graduation added to the move towards rail. During my last semester at Tech I helped found the Railroad Engineering and Activities Club.
I graduated from Tech in December of 2005, and accepted a job with BNSF. After my initial training I was assigned as an Assistant Roadmaster in Minneapolis, MN. Since then I have moved to positions of increasing responsibility as my career with the railroad has progressed. I’ve served in the following positions: Terminal Roadmaster Northtown Classification Yard; District Roadmaster Belen, NM; Manager Rail Grinding; Assistant Director Maintenance Production; Division Engineer Chicago; Director Maintenance Performance and Support; and my current position as General Director Line Maintenance California Division. I have moved six times, and lived in states that I never thought of visiting. I’ve met great people who have taught me a lot about railroading and leading people.
In my current role I oversee the engineering department for the California Division of BNSF Railroad. This involves leading approximately 450 employees in the track, structures, and signal departments to safely maintain and upgrade our railroad infrastructure, providing a reliable infrastructure to move passengers and freight on time. While we see most every commodity, the majority of railroad traffic in CA is the intermodal trains coming from the LA ports headed out to the rest of the country.
Looking back on the last 10 years, it’s been a really enjoyable career so far. I have met a lot of great people, traveled the country, and learned a lot about business. I use my degree on a daily basis, maybe not in the conventional technical side, but rather for the problem solving skills that I developed at Michigan Tech and over the past 10 years.