Railroad conference discusses innovations in transportation, sustainability


By The Daily Illini Staff Report

The Railroad Environmental Conference connecting students to various speakers through a series of presentations with those in the railroad industry will be held at the Illini Union on Oct. 22 and 23.

The annual conference is connected to the University’s Rail Transportation and Engineering Center, an organization in the Grainger College of Engineering, which connects students to research and education related to innovations in railroad engineering and transportation.

Throughout the conference, students from the University will attend presentations on academic and engineering perspectives in the industry, and environmental researchers will attend to bolster the event’s ecological presentations.

Topics at this year’s conference include Ecological Conservation, Environmental Analytical Data Applications, Environmental Management, Environmental Response, Risk & Liability Management, Stormwater & Wastewater and Sustainability.

Christopher Barkan, professor in Engineering and director of RailTEC, said the conference provides an opportunity for students and experts alike to view modern innovations in what is often viewed as an old-fashioned industry.

Barkan said sustainability is essential going forward for one of the most valuable forms of transportation.

“Railroads are the safest and most energy-efficient form of land transport for both passengers and freight,” Barkan said in an email. “Leaders from the railroads and environmental engineering firms will be on campus sharing their knowledge on how to further reduce the environmental impact of rail transport and achieve more sustainable processes and operations.”

Barkan said in this period of transition in technology and sustainability for the railroad industry, leaders are looking for graduates with new perspectives from a variety of fields.

“Railroads and rail engineering firms employ civil and environmental engineers, ecologists, geologists, planners and various other disciplines,” Barkan said. “Many in the rail industry will soon reach retirement age, so railroads seek to hire a new generation of talented, energetic railroad engineering and transportation professionals.”

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