CE Club February 2016 Update

Railroad Track Engineer from GiC

Ryan Kernes from GiC presented to the CE Club at Woodrow Wilson High School on the unique topic of railroad and railroad track engineering. He first pointed out that he became interested and connected within the railroad industry when he went to grad school where he researched railroad track components. From there, his career took off at GiC where he gets the opportunity to mix technical and non-technical skills to assist in the design and coordination of the specialized network of structures, components, and equipment that make up the North American freight rail system. He also expressed to the students that he enjoys his job as a railroad track engineer because of how specialized it is, the travel opportunities it comes with, and the team atmosphere within the tight-knit railroad industry. Ryan pointed out to the students that while Japan and Europe are the best at transporting people via rails, the United States is actually the best when it comes to the transportation of freight on railways.

Ryan then walked the students through the basics of railroad track engineering. The smooth and stable running surface that these massive trains travel across starts with the subgrade, a sub-ballast, and ballast layers. The continually-welded rails are then connected to cross ties that sit on top of the ballast with fastening systems, many of which are proprietary. At this point, Ryan was able to show the students some of the fastening components that GiC produces to connect the rails to the pre-stressed concrete railroad ties that are also manufactured by GiC at their facility in Mexico. He also walked the students through the manufacturing process for the pre-stressed concrete railroad ties with pictures and diagrams.

Finally, the students were presented with a railroad cost estimation activity where they had to price two options for a 10-mile-long railway outside of Dallas. Students had to consider the cost of wood versus concrete railroad ties as well as requirements for the ballast, sub-ballast, and sub-grade of each railroad tie option. Many of the students were impressed by this activity as well as by the uniqueness of Ryan’s career path within engineering. Additional photos from Ryan’s presentation can also be found here.