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Rail and Intermodal Youth Summer program

Posted on Jul 22, 2013
The 4th Annual Rail and Intermodal Youth Summer Program (YR&IP) was held from July 09- through July 13th 2013.
click to enlarge
Rail and Intermodal Youth Summer program

The program is directed at students in grades 9-12 and has been successful at many levels. The first measure of success is the long-running collaboration between Michigan Technological University that leads the program and the University of Wisconsin-Superior that provides key support.Secondly is the essential industry support from rail, trucking and logistics firms that has continued to expand over the years.Most important are the learning experiences of the growing number of students and their new found enthusiasm for these transportation sectors.

After the students arrive at Michigan Tech they have classes in the fundamentals of rail engineering, track design and locomotives. Classroom instruction is combined with visits to operating rail yards, student engineering projects and hands on work with rail equipment. The students also have opportunities to enjoy the campus amenities and great outdoor recreational activities in the scenic Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

On third day of the week long program the students travel to the University of Wisconsin-Superior where they spend the next two nights. Duluth, MN and Superior, WI are also known as the Twin Ports. The Twin Ports is the 15th largest port in the United States with both domestic and foreign ships calling at the port, a shipyard and a U.S. Coast Guard Home Port with the USCG Cutter Alder. Four Class 1 railroads service the community with nine active rail yards. The community is host to an international airport, a general aviation airport, a seaplane base and two aircraft manufactures. Several regional trucking firms are headquartered in the Twin Ports along with state DOT offices. Major pipelines service the only refinery in Wisconsin and support pipeline operations and repair companies. The combination of all modes of transportation in the Twin Ports provides a rich learning environment for transportation, logistics and supply chain management.

The UW-Superior portion of the YR&IP is led by students in the university's Transportation and Logistics Management major under the guidance of Dr. Richard D. Stewart. The YR&IP students wake early on their first morning so that they can have a solid breakfast for their long day of visiting facilities and interacting with working professionals.

After a safety briefing the students are taken to the regional offices of the BNSF railroad located at the edge of 17th and 18th Street rail yard in Superior. This year the students were immediately taken to tour the locomotives of a 138 car train that was due to leave the terminal shortly after the students' arrival. After a safety briefing the students, in small groups, were guided by BNSF employees around the locomotives and were able to talk with the engineer.

After the locomotive tour and a drive through part of the mile long yard the students met with the yardmaster in the terminal control tower and then has a discussion seminar with BNSF employees about career opportunities.

The tour concluded with a visit to the rail car shop to talk with various maintenance personnel and learn about the training, equipment, information and time needed to keep a railroad running smoothly.

After the exciting tours and discussion a thank you was given by the students next to the statue of James J. Hill, the founder of the Northern Pacific railroad. Then several BNSF managers joined the students for lunch at ACES.

The afternoon of the first day started with a learning session at UW-Superior on logistics, intermodal operation and supply chain management that taught the students about the interconnectivity of transportation systems. The students learned that transportation systems move cargo/people, information and money and that this needs to be done seamlessly globally. After learning about the complexity of supply chains and handling some intermodal equipment the students left to visit the vital mode common to all supply trains, a trucking company.

The students were welcomed to Halvor Lines headquarters in Superior, Wisconsin. Halvor Lines is a highly successful trucking company with over 300 tractors servicing all states except Hawaii. The students were able to tour theheadquarters and talk with both seasoned personnel and recent T&L graduates who are working in the trucking industry. Students learned about trucking operations, maintenance and Halvor's Logistics company. The students were then taken to the truck lot. There they talked with a truck driver, toured a brand new state of the art truck and learned about the fuel saving innovations that Halvor Line's is adopting.

Students exploring a brand new tractor

Every student was able to try out driving an eighteen wheel tractor-trailer using Halvor's truck driving simulator. The students learned quickly about the high level of skill, concentration and safety consciousness needed to handle a big rig under a variety of conditions. Halvor's personnel graciously answered any question and provided the students with valuable insight into the truckingindustry.

After a long day spent learning about transportation the students unwound at UW-Superior's Health and Wellness Center. Students were taught about rock climbing and were able to play handball and soccer when they were not eating pizza.

The second day in the Twin Ports started early again so that the student could visit the scenic overlook of the Twin Ports Harbor. The students then went to the CN docks in Duluth, MN. The tour started with a safety briefing and a discussion about careers by the Port Director Mark Erickson. The tour was timed perfectly; students witnessed a ship unloading limestone and train coming in to unload over 8,000 tons of taconite pellets into the dock hoppers. Watching the rail cars unload was definitely their favorite part, but being able to stuff their pockets with taconite pellets as souvenirs came in at a close second.

After the tour of the CN facilities was completed the students went to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. At the museum they boarded the Lester River Train of the North Shore Scenic Railroad. The students had a private rail car called the Duluth, Missabe and Iron RangeCombination Car W-24 .

The car was built in 1913 as an executive hunting car for the Duluth Messabi and Iron Range railroad and was one of the rail cars used in the filming of Disney movie Iron Will.

After the 1½ hour train ride the students were given a guided tour of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum by Ken Bulher, the Museum's Director. Located in the Historic Duluth Union Depot, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum houses the finest collection of Railroad Equipment in the entire country, with interactive exhibits as well as history from the region.

Story by transportation and logistics staff

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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