Student Projects

RTP students have the opportunity to be involved in projects and research. Student projects develop organizational skills, real-life project experience, ability to work with clients, and interactive hands-on learning. There are two primary avenues for students to get real life project experience: Senior Design or Enterprise. 

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.

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. Enterprise projects can be one or more semester's long.

Students are welcome to contact any of the RTP Faculty members for new projects.

Scroll down or search our student Project Archives to check out completed and ongoing projects. 



This multidisciplinary group was tasked with restoring the historical track alignments of the mine so that it may serve as a tourist attraction as well as a functional passenger railroad.
Project Schedule:
Jan, 2011 to Jan, 2012
Students from Transportation Enterprise worked with Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad (LS&I) to assess their existing rail lubrication infrastructure and provide recommendations for updating the system. Students familiarized themselves with not only rail lubrication practices but also rail related terminology and knowledge. During the field visit the student team identified potential problems in the track geometry and added investigation of ideal superelevations to the project.
Project Schedule:
Jan, 2010 to Jan, 2011
Students from Transportation Enterprise worked with CXT, Inc. and CN Railroad to develop environmental sustainability metrics that can be used in CXT’s industrial production facility, and in CN’s railroad operations.  The project produced a prototype environmental sustainability model to calculate CXT’s carbon footprint, and to assess future improvements.
Project Schedule:
Jan, 2010 to Jan, 2011
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 was conducted by the ETEC (Efficiency through Engineering and Construction) Enterprise.
Project Schedule:
Jan, 2013 to Aug, 2014
This student group evaluated options for repurposing a centerbeam railcar, and developed a plan for re-using this car type as a frac-sand platform.  The plan included removing the existing centerbeam structure, and replacing the lost structural capacity with a redesigned “fish-belly” beam.  
Project Schedule:
Sep, 2013 to Jun, 2014
Principal Investigator: Justin Breeland
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.
Sponsored by: Union Pacific Railroad
Project Schedule:
Sep, 2013 to Apr, 2014
Principal Investigator: Francis Bremmer
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.
Sponsored by: NURail Center
Project Schedule:
Sep, 2013 to Mar, 2014
This group investigated the operation of grade crossing signal systems, and the jumper cables used to disable them during maintenance activities. The end result is a redesigned jumper system that can sense the approach of a train and reactivate the crossing even when the jumper is still in place.
Project Schedule:
Sep, 2013 to May, 2014
A multidisciplinary team of students provided a client overview of train control systems using balise technology, and the potential market opportunities in that technology area. Ongoing work will look at use of radio frequency tags in the rail industry.
Project Schedule:
Sep, 2013 to May, 2014
A team of students from the REAC club will create a demonstration track section at a campus location. The students will handle all aspects of the project, from initial planning and site selection, through design, material acquisition, and construction. The plan anticipates donated materials from rail industry sources. The completed track section will be used as a learning tool in rail and transportation classes throughout the curriculum.
Project Schedule:
Sep, 2014


Rail Transportation Program
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Houghton, MI. 49931-1295
Phone: 1-906-487-3547
Fax: 1-906-487-2943
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