Pasi Lautala Interviewed on Railway Education

Summer Youth Rail Program

Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program was featured in the INFORMS Railway Applications Section 2017 newsletter. INFORMS is the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. The article Railway Education for the 21st Century included an interview with Pasi Lautala (CEE) describing our program’s history and current activities.

Feature Article: Railway Education for the 21st Century

The prize for best student recruiting must go to Michigan Tech, which since 2010 has offered a residential summer rail camp experience to students in the 9th through 12th years (American high school). Michigan Tech is the scrappy underdog of railway education.

How did Michigan Tech become one of the top railway education centers in the United States? It all started with the current program director, Pasi Lautala, who came to Michigan Tech in 1997 as an exchange student from Finland. Faculty members Bill Sproul and Eric Petersen shared a mutual interest in rail, and took an interest in Lautala. In 2002, they invited Lautala back to Michigan Tech to teach some courses in railways and pursue his PhD.

The summer youth program is the jewel of Michigan Tech’s program. Founded in 2010, the program is unique at Michigan Tech, because unlike other youth programs at Michigan Tech, it attracts students from all over the United States (Michigan Tech is otherwise strictly a regional school). At its peak under NuRail funding, the program offered 100% scholarship and enrolled a capacity group of 25 students. Today, without NuRail funding, the program offers 50% scholarship and enrolled 14 students last year.

The industry has to change, it has to modernize. Pasi Lautala

Director Pasi Lautala says the student body at Michigan Tech is a good match to the railroad industry, because its students are very hands on, engineering focused, and outdoors oriented, “Railroad people need to drive big trucks and shovel snow.”

Read more at the INFORMS newsletter of the Railway Applications Section, by Steven Harrod.


Environmental Engineering Undergrad Selected as a Portage Health Foundation Intern

Rose Turner

Rose Turner, a senior undergraduate student in environmental program, has been selected as a Portage Health Foundation Intern through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program. Rose will work with Dr. Minakata investigating the treatment feasibility of polyfluorinated carbons using sulfate radicals in advanced oxidation process. Polyfluorinated carbons have been found in nation’s drinking water and one of emerging water contaminants. Rose will present her research findings at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in March 2018.

 




You, Students Travel to Minnesota

Zhanping You MnROAD
Zhanping You at MnROAD Grand Opening in Minnesota

Zhanping You (CEE), students Siyu Chen, Fangyuan Gong, Ran Zhang, and visiting scholars Songtao Lyu and Chundi Si attended the National Road Research Alliance (NRRA) Grand Opening at MnROAD Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

You received a plaque from Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle for Associate Member Michigan Tech Transportation Institute. US Rep. Tom Emmer and Zelle joined the event.

Zelle, Deputy Commissioner Susan Mulvihil and associate members of NRRA cut the ribbon with Rep. Emmer.

MnROAD, located near Albertville, Minnesota, is a pavement test track consisting of various combinations of road-building materials and designs. MnROAD collects pavement field data with thousands of sensors located in each test section. A tour of MnROAD Low Volume Road was shown by the MnROAD staffs.

PHOTO GALLERY


Rail Transportation Program and Railroad Club Activities

Railway InterchangeRail Transportation Program and Railroad Club participate in Railway Interchange

Pasi Lautala, director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and 11 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the Railway Interchange on Sept. 17-20, 2017, in Indianapolis.

With over 8,500 participants, Railway Interchange is the largest railway conference in the US, organized by several professional associations. As part of the student activities, Team 1 of the Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC), consisting of Aaron Dean (ME), Alyssa Leach (CE), Alex Christmas (CE), Derek Owen (CE) and Mario Marachini (CE) got 3rd place in the student quiz bowl. Team 2 (Kyle Dick, Andrew Erickson, Erick Flaten, Clive Pinto, Pratik Tuplondhetook) took 7th place in the bowl. Aaron Dean also had success in the undergraduate student poster competition, taking the 1st place with his poster on “Using In-Vehicle Head Orientation Sensing Data to Rapidly Evaluate Driver Visual Scanning Behavior at Rail Grade Crossings”. Dean also presented a poster- “The Evaluation of Driver Compliance Behavior at Grade Crossings based on Naturalistic Driving Study Data” by Modeste Muhire in his absence as part of the graduate poster competition, taking the 2nd place.

As part of the conference, five Michigan Tech students were also recognized for winning student scholarships by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA). To cap a successful conference, Dr. Pasi Lautala presented “Evaluation of Driver Behavior at Highway Rail Grade Crossings” in the closing general session of the conference.

Rail Transportation Program presents at the SHRP2 Safety Symposium

Pasi Lautala, director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and Aaron Dean, a senior in the ME Department and an undergraduate research assistant for the RTP, participated in the Tenth SHRP 2 “Safety Data Symposium: From Analysis to Results” on Oct.6, 2017, in Washington, DC.

The Symposium included nineteen selected presentations by the researchers within and outside the US that use the SHRP 2 Naturalistic Driving Study database.

Aaron Dean presented his research on “Development & Validation of Post-Processing Methods for the SHRP2 MASK Head Pose Data”, and Lautala presented on “Using NDS data to evaluate driver behavior at highway-rail grade crossings”.

Michigan Tech was the only institution invited to make two presentations in the conference and Dean was the only undergraduate presenter.


Rail Transportation Program Leads Two Rail Related Senior Design Projects

Peshekee Wood Yard

RTP lead two rail related civil/environmental senior design projects during the 2016-17 school year.  During the fall semester a team of 15 students worked on improvements to the Peshekee logyard owned and operated by Longyear, LLC.  Their work included rail and highway transportation improvements to serve the site, preliminary plans for a rail served transload warehouse and fuels transload area, and environmental permitting requirements for the proposed work.  Suggested improvements included 3950 linear feet of trackwork valued at $1.5 million, $560,000 in site improvements, $230,000 for equipment and tanks to support the fuels transload operation, and $150,000 for the transload warehouse.  An additional $200,000 was recommended to procure a trackmobile to improve rail operations in the expanded site.  Environmental costs were reduced by the team recommendation for wetland preservation in place of more costly remediation methods.

Peshekee Wood Yard 2.jpg

During the spring semester a separate team of 16 students worked with Sawyer International Airport to provide conceptual and preliminary work on rail access to a proposed refinery site and rail and highway access to a proposed warehouse site.  The refinery access team recommended constructing a loop track with 3.5 miles of new trackwork at a price of nearly $9million, while the warehouse team found that rail access would require $6.5 million for the full build out, but a phased approach could bring initial construction down to 21,000 linear feet of rail at $4.5 million, with the remaining work completed as traffic at the warehouse site developed.  Highway access and parking facilities for the new warehouse complex would require 3500 linear feet of new roadway, and 160,000 square feet of new parking and support pavements at a price of nearly $3.5 million.  SAI also asked our environmental team to look at a recent study on PFC contamination on the airport site produced by the US Air Force Civil Engineering Center. The team produced a detailed report, including recommendations for additional testing and monitoring.


Cold Weather Dusting from Mine Tailing Impoundments

oommen-personnelVitton seagren-personnel

Dr. Thomas Oommen, Dr. Stanley Vitton and Dr. Eric Seagren recently completed a NSF project on dusting from mine tailings impoundments.  In the project they evaluated remote sensing tools for monitoring impoundments for dusting potential, and innovative biomediated approaches for mitigating dusting.  In particular, they focused on the problem of cold weather dusting.

As part of the project output, with the help of the CinOptics Enterprise on campus, they are producing a series of videos on the problem of cold weather dusting from mine tailings impoundments, and conventional and innovative techniques for mitigating cold weather dusting.

This is the first video in the series.  It is a review of the problem of cold weather dusting.


Zhanping You and Colleagues Publish on Asphalt Binders

Zhanping You
Zhanping You

Michigan Tech researchers published a paper: “Quantification of physicochemical properties, activation energy, and temperature susceptibility of foamed asphalt binders.” The authors include two former PhD students who are currently assistant professors and two professors at Michigan Tech.

Former PhD student Mohd RosliMohd Hasan is with Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia. Xu Yang is with Australia’s Monash University, Sunway Campus in Malaysia. Michigan Tech professors are Zhanping You (CEE) and Particia A. Heiden (Chem).

This paper is based on a research project funded by the NSF.