UTPA Report: University Transportation Center for Railway Safety

Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 10:54am

For almost a decade, The University of Texas-Pan American has been helping the railroad industry improve safety. Now, the federal government is contributing to UTPA's work. Reporter Jennifer Berghom has more on that story.

Dr. Constantine Tarawneh's research on railway bearings has gained some momentum.

The mechanical engineering professor at UTPA is heading up the new University Transportation Center for Railway Safety, which was made possible through a 3-million-dollar grant by the U-S Department of Transportation.

Dr. Constantine Tarawneh, associate professor, UTPA, "Well... the Center for Railway Safety has been actually a work in progress since 2005. When we started, it was started with a vision that ... we started with one faculty, one student, graduate student, ...with Amsted Rail, a private industry, funded us for $15,000, and, throughout the years, we kept on increasing our productivity. Our grant amount for the past 8 years we've been funded ... through Amsted Rail and this past year we were approached by Texas A&M University and UNL to take part in a USDOT grant proposal to establish a center for railway safety."

UTPA is running the center with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Texas A AND M University. The three institutions will work together on projects that will lead to better designed railroad bearings and sensors to improve safety on railways.

Dr. Constantine Tarawneh, "We're looking at this center being a part of UTPA, the new university, and expanding on it to where we are a national center for railway safety where people look to us for research when it comes to like bearings, safety, and come to us when they want to hire engineers that work in those areas."

Currently, he has five faculty members and 30 students at UTPA working with him on his research.

For graduate student Amy Gonzalez, being a part of the team has been a great opportunity, "It's been a blessing to be able to come here and be in this research. And, with this railroad research project' I've been able to get my thesis and it's great to get something published and have other people read it, read what I've been doing here at UTPA."

UTPA will unveil its new center at a grand opening February 10.

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