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NURail Partner featured in TR News Profile
August 28, 2015

NURail Partner, David B. Clarke, Research Associate Professor and Director, Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was featured in the June-July-August 2015 edition of TR News. Dave has been involved in the NURail Center since its inception. He is active in national efforts to promote railway research and education, and teaches classes and short courses on rail subjects. Click here to read the article.

Article Addresses Tank Car Design
August 21, 2015

The dramatic increase in the transport of flammable liquids by rail has raised concerns about the risk of accidents producing large spills. A collaborative, multiyear research effort by several organizations, including NURail, focused on this issue. An article written by Professor Chris Barkan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Assistant Professor Xiang Liu (Rutgers University) and Research Assistant Professor Rapik Saat (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ) addressed this topic and was recently published in the summer issue of TR News. Click here to read the article titled “Enhanced Tank Car Design Improves the Safety of Transporting Crude Oil and Alcohol by Rail”.

Upcoming Presentation by NURail Partner
August 11, 2015

Transit authorities are being challenged to rely more on local sources of funding to develop and renew their infrastructure and Federal transit officials have urged the transit industry to use value capture strategies to fund their capital investments. The OST Office of the Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R) presents Stephen E. Schlickman, Executive Director of the Urban Transportation Center (UTC) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 12:00 (CST). He will be presenting “Transit Value Capture Coordination: Best Practices and Recommendations” in a pre-recorded event. The link is: Click on the Transportation Innovation Series banner to connect.

Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program
July 30, 2015

Michigan Tech’s 6th Annual Summer Youth Program in Rail and Intermodal Transportation, held July 26-31, 2015, was featured on both Fox 21 KQDS and Northland News Center websites. Twenty two students finished the week long camp where most of the program time was devoted to industry field trips and hands-on activities. The goal of the program is to attract a new generation to the rail industry.

Addison Wins Best Student Paper Award
July 21, 2015

Michigan Tech graduate student Priscilla Addison received the Best Student Paper Award for "Rail Embankment Investigation Using Remote Sensing for a Permafrost Region" which she presented at the 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Cold Regions Engineering Conference: Developing and Maintaining Resilient Infrastructure, held July 19-22, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The thrust of Addison's paper was to look at remote sensing as a site investigate tool for the portion of the Hudson Bay railway embankment underlain with discontinuous permafrost in northern Manitoba, Canada. This research is jointly supported by OmniTRAX Inc. and NURail. Addison is co-advised by Associate Professor Thomas Oommen and Assistant Professor Pasi Lautala.

Passenger Railway Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES)
July 8 – 10, 2015

Built on the success of AREMA’s original REES program, the inaugural "p-REES" program, meeting and collaboration with other engineering professors on passenger rail and transit education and research was held this summer in Philadelphia. NURail Center partners participated in this symposium and provided practical, hands-on engineering information and materials, with the goal of encouraging engineering faculty interest in adding rail and transit engineering content to their current courses and curricula. The symposium also included a field visit to the rail transit facilities of SEPTA in Philadelphia, the sixth largest transit system in the United States. To read the Passenger Transport magazine write-up on the p-REES symposium, click here.

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Featured Project

Railway Operations Class

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Increasing the number and diversity of rail focused courses is an important step in rebuilding America’s railway education infrastructure. Currently, most college level rail courses are on railway civil engineering topics. A new course jointly developed by the Universities of Tennessee and South Carolina addresses railway operations. Providing engineering students with a better understanding of operations can improve infrastructure design and maintenance practices. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Nonlinear Track-Railroad Vehicle Interaction

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

This investigation describes a new nonlinear formulation based on the absolute nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF) for modeling the dynamic interaction between rigid wheels and flexible rails. The generalized forces and spin moments at the contact points are formulated in terms of the absolute coordinates and gradients of ANCF finite elements used to model the rail. To this end, a new procedure for formulating the generalized ANCF applied moment based on a continuum mechanics approach is introduced. Click here to read the detailed brief. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Elasto-Viscoplastic Modeling of Rail Ballast and Subgrade

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

This project will focus on automatically detecting flat-spotted wheels from thermal imagery using computer vision methods. In addition to that, we introduce a novel algorithm to detect hot bearings. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Elasto-Viscoplastic Modeling of Rail Ballast and Subgrade

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Settlement of Rail Ballast and Subballast is a major issue in the rail industry. In this research, we develop a three-invariant soil model capable of simulating the settlement of soil under repeated loads. This model can be incorporated into finite element analysis of soils under the dynamic motions of trains. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Coupled Rail-Ballast-Subgrade Analysis of Train Dynamics

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In this project, we develop an integrated multibody dynamics and finite element model that include wheel-rail contact and deformation of the rail, fasteners, ties, ballast, sub-ballast and subgrade. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Structural Adhesive Behavior – Experimental and Computational Study

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In this brief, an experimental and computational study aiming to investigate the structural adhesive behavior at different loading scenarios is presented. The objectives of this research are: i) investigate the behavior of structural adhesive by characterizing their mechanical properties, and ii) establish a representative material model that can mimic their behavior and can be used in numerical models for computational studies. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Switch Geometry Modeling using ANCF

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The objective of this work is to develop a new finite element based procedure for representing surface geometry in MBS contact problems. This procedure ensures a certain degree of continuity at the element interface, thereby allowing for more accurate predictions of kinetics results that include the contact forces. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Study of Liquid Sloshing using a Multibody Approach

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The objective of this investigation is to develop a total Lagrangian liquid sloshing solution procedure based on finite element floating frame reference (FFR) formulation and absolutely nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF). Click here to read the detailed brief.

New Semester Course in Railway Terminal Design & Operations

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In the new Railway Terminal Design & Operations course (CEE 598 RTD) developed as a NURail education project, students learn details of the design, operations planning, management, and optimization of the terminal facilities required for the railway network to function as an efficient freight transportation system. The focus is on design of classification yards, intermodal facilities and bulk terminals, and how these facilities are organized into a network to provide different types of freight transportation service by rail. Click here to read the detailed brief.

"Grow Our Own" Minority STEM Initiative: Partnering in Outreach

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The railroad programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-­‐Champaign and Michigan Technological University are supporting efforts led by Hanson Professional Services, a civil engineering consulting firm headquartered in Springfield, IL, to expose underrepresented groups to railway engineering and “grow our own” next generation of civil engineering leaders. Program coordinators at Hanson work with nearby schools and local organizations to identify minority students in the Springfield community with an interest in STEM topics. Students are then matched with appropriate programs to foster their interest. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Summer Youth Program in Rail and Intermodal Transportation

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Since 2010, Michigan Technological University has offered a Summer Youth Program (SYP) in Rail and Intermodal Transportation. The program hosts a diverse group of students in grades 9-11 representing 17 states. The structure of the program consists of classwork, tours, and hands-on activities. The mission statement of the program is "a collaboration to attract a new generation." Click here to read the detailed brief.

Railroad Engineering Education Symposium (REES) 2012

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) is intended to foster the participation of university faculty in railway engineering with the goal of encouraging and supporting their interest in adding railway engineering content to their engineering courses and curricula. REES 2012 was held June 11-13, 2012 in Overland Park, KS at the Johnson County Community College (JCCC). REES 2012 presented basic railway education materials, but also added more advanced material targeted toward professors who returned to REES to deepen their understanding of the railroad industry. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Railroad Projects at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Three rail related projects were taken on as part of the year-long Senior Design Capstone class. Two rail projects were also part of the Freshman Design class. During the spring of 2014 students in the Railroad Engineering class designed and constructed a 60 foot section of track at the Wabash Valley Railroaders Museum. The track is used to display a WWII Pullman Troop Sleeper car. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Rail Highway Grade Crossing Roughness Quantitative Measurement Using 3D Technology

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

This research reports on the development of an accurate, low cost and readily deployable sensor capable of rapidly collecting a 3D surface model of a rail crossing in its present state. This is seen as a first step towards automating the crossing inspection process, ultimately leading to the quantification and estimation of future performance of rail crossing. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Quantifying Rail-Highway Grade Crossing Roughness: Accelerations and Dynamic Modeling

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Quality of surface is an important aspect affecting both the safety and performance of rail-highway grade crossings. No quantitative method currently exists to assess the condition of rail crossings in order to evaluate the performance of crossings and set a quantitative trigger for their rehabilitation. This research reports on the use of LiDAR to collect a 3D surface point cloud as input to a customized vehicle dynamic model. Click here to read the detailed brief.

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Upcoming Events

Oct 4 - 7 2015

Minneapolis, MN
AREMA conference

Oct 20 2015

11:00a.m. Houghton, MI
Michigan Tech Rail Day

Oct 20 2015

6:00p.m. Houghton, MI
Michigan Tech Railroad Night

Oct 27 - 28 2015

Who We Are

The NURail Center is a rail-focused seven-university consortium led by the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

We are a Tier-1 University Transportation Center (UTC) under the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research & Technology (OST) program working to improve and expand rail education, research, workforce development, and technology transfer.

Members of the consortium are:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Chicago
    College of Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michigan Technological University
University of Kentucky
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


NURail Center
1239B Newmark Engineering Laboratory, MC-250
205 N. Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Tel: (217) 244-4999
Fax: (217) 333-9464