July 2, 2019

Engaging IANA’s Next Generation

Youth tour a variety of sites and learn about careers in transportation and logistics during the Intermodal Summer Youth Program.

Youth tour a variety of sites and learn about careers in transportation and logistics during the Intermodal Summer Youth Program.

A long-term collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Superior and Michigan Technological University has yielded a unique summer program to introduce high school students to careers in the rail and intermodal industry.

By Pasi Lautala, Michigan Technological University; Richard Stewart, University of Wisconsin-Superior; David Nelson, Michigan Technological University; and Daniel Rust, University of Wisconsin-Superior

For ten consecutive years, the Michigan Technological University and the University of Wisconsin-Superior have jointly hosted the week-long Rail and Intermodal Summer Youth Program for high school students. The camp attracts nearly 20 young men and women annually from as far away as California, Florida and New York.

After arriving on the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton, Michigan on Sunday, camp participants get their first look at railroad operations at the Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad on Monday. They tour the company’s car and locomotive shops, and climb into the cab of a locomotive. The tour often includes a trip to Marquette, Michigan to witness the loading of iron ore pellets, taconite, into rail cars. Tuesday features classroom activities focused on track structures and railroad operations. Participants build a scale railroad section using sand, gravel and 3K printed rails. They also receive instruction on a train simulation computer program before traveling to UW-Superior’s campus.

The next day UW-Superior Transportation & Logistics Management faculty and student assistants lead the participants on tours of a large BNSF rail yard in Superior, Wisconsin. Campers spend time in the control tower and tour the car maintenance shop. BNSF employees frequently join the young people at lunch to talk about career opportunities. At Halvor Lines Trucking and Logistics, the largest employer in the Superior area, participants learn about the critical value of trucks – especially for the first and last mile of intermodal operations.

Campers experience the inside of a truck cab, as well as “drive” an 18-wheeler in Halvor’s simulator. Time permitting, they visit Midwest Energy Resources Company’s call terminal in Superior where they observe unit trains of coal unloaded using a rotary car dumper and see a 1,000-foot laker vessel load with coal at 8,000 tons per hour using a one-person control system. Recently added, UW-Superior Wisconsin Department of Transportation interns demonstrate a rail-highway crossing analysis. Returning to UW-Superior, campers learn about intermodal operations and supply chain management.

On Thursday, participants cross the bridge to the Port of Duluth, Minnesota where they tour the Duluth Intermodal Terminal operated by Canadian National Railway and Lake Superior Warehousing. They observe container movements and double-stack intermodal car operations, as well as learn about container markings and port operations. Lunch is aboard the North Shore Scenic Railroad during a ride along Lake Superior north of Duluth.

At the Duluth Depot, participants receive a guided tour of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum  -- one of the top-rated transportation museums in the U.S. – before returning to Michigan Tech. Back in the classroom, they learn about urban transit, and build and test a magnetic levitation rail car. The camp ends with a tour of either the Lake Linden and Torch lake Railroad or the Quincy Mine cog rail.

Sponsored by the Intermodal Association of North America, CN and the National University Rail Center, this long-term collaboration between two universities, involving many industry partners, effectively introduces young people to careers in the rail and intermodal industries through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on activities and industry tours.

 

Youth tour a variety of sites and learn about careers in transportation and logistics during the Intermodal Summer Youth Program.

Youth tour a variety of sites and learn about careers in transportation and logistics during the Intermodal Summer Youth Program.

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UW-Superior Faculty/Staff

This year, 15 high school students will participate in the 10th Annual Rail and Intermodal Summer Youth Program, which will take place July 8-12. 

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