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Rail Transportation Program at Michigan Tech
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RTP Student Projects

The general objective of the Senior Design Project is to provide an opportunity to successfully complete a major, semester-long assignment integrating a range of civil and environmental engineering disciplines and skills.  This course serves as a transition between traditional teaching and professional practice.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in Enterprise.

Enterprise teams perform testing and analysis, make recommendations, manufacture parts, develop products and processes, provide services, meet budgets and schedules, and manage multiple projects. Faculty members act as coaches and mentors. Industry sponsors advise and guide.

Students develop the critical skills needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing work environment. And industry sponsors gain a fresh look at important problems—and potential solutions—through the eyes of an unbiased team

Current Student Projects

Performance of Grade Crossing Surface Materials
Grade-crossings are an integral part of both railway and highway networks and are the main location where the two modes converge with each other. Safety for both train and roadway vehicle traffic is of utmost importance, as well as the longevity of the crossing materials. This project is conducted by the ETEC (Efficiency through Engineering and Construction) Enterprise. ETEC partners with MDOT and NURail Center to investigate different grade crossing surface materials used in the State of Michigan and to perform analysis related to the performance of various materials.

Locomotive Sand Level Sensor Development
Locomotives currently have no system in place to safely and accurately measure the level of sand in the on-board sanding containers which are used for traction during acceleration. This Senior Design Group partnering with Union Pacific has designed a system that remotely monitors the sand levels and displays the information to personnel in a safe, accurate and easy-to-read format. The prototype system that saves man-hours, eliminates necessary risk of injury, and will prevent downtime on the tracks from human error in estimating sand levels.

Rail Car Coupler Redesign
The current type E Janney coupler has not been significantly modified since the original patent was filed in 1873. Couplers that fail while in use cause major delays costing rail companies and customer’s time and money. Alternative materials are being considered to increase fatigue life and decrease weight. This Senior Design team has researched the current failure modes, potential design modifications and potential changes in materials. The type E and corresponding redesigned knuckles from alternative materials will be prototyped and tested to validate initial findings.

Cin/Optic  Media                         
The Rail Transportation Program revolves around preparing students to create the future of the rail industry.  Cin/Optic Media is a Michigan Tech Enterprise partnering with RTP and NuRail to create a promotional video and materials.  Cin/Optic is developing a video that will highlight the opportunities that RTP offers to students as well as taking a closer look at the ever growing rail industry and how students in the RTP will be contributing to the future of the transportation industry. With the help of Cin/Optic the RTP will demonstrate the benefits of rail initiatives and how rail can reduce environmental impact significant in the transportation industry.


Past Projects

LS&I Lubricator Project – Transportation Enterprise
Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad (LS&I), owned and operated by Cliffs Natural Resources, feels it would be beneficial to develop a rail lubrication program that would increase the usable life its rail and railcar wheels. This project represents a great opportunity for students in Michigan Tech's Transportation Enterprise to develop an understanding of the importance of providing a proper rail lubrication program. This project enables students to work on an industrial-wide problem that is the major cause of rail replacement all over the world.

Quincy & Torch Lake Railroad Rehabilitation Project – Efficiency through Engineering and Construction Enterprise (ETEC), Survey Senior Design & Civil Senior Design
The Quincy Mine Hoist Association is plans to rehabilitate rail lines on the Quincy Mine park facility. This project consists of three separate student groups (Civil, Surveying & ETEC) that will be working together to collect necessary information and the development of preliminary plans and other relevant documentation for constructing/rehabilitation of the Quincy and Torch Lake rail line. This project provides students with a unique project in a professional real world experience.  






© 2012 Michigan Technological University
Rail Transportation Program
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, Michigan, 49931 - 1295, USA
Phone: 1-906-487-3547
Fax: 1-906-487-2943
Email: rail@mtu.edu

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer

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