Tech will be part of a $3.5 million grant of federal funding, but it's unknown so far how the universities will work together with research, said Pasi Lautala, director of the Rail Transportation Program at Michigan Tech.
"That's the million-dollar question," he
"We are waiting for the kickoff meeting for the project."
Scientists from each university pointed to some areas of research they would like to work on and Michigan Tech
will be developing some new educational activities.
While some of the universities' research overlaps, Lautala
said many of the projects will be collaborations.
"One university would do one side of the project," he
research will focus on rural freight rail and transportation improvements, human involvement and rail safety, infrastructure assessment, high-performance materials for railroad preservation and renewal and improved materials for rail industry, Lautala
In addition, Tech has a small management role and Lautala will be the education coordinator for the entire consortium.
"For me, as the education coordinator, one of my biggest visions is to increase the access of students to rail-related courses offered by the other consortium universities," he said.
The consortium has two years to spend the one-time funding and it is hoping continuation funding is created.
But it is hoped the bigger revenue stream will expand the program at Michigan Tech
"I'm always hoping it will get bigger," he
The rail program at Michigan Tech
officially formed in late 2007.
In February 2010, the CN Rail Transportation Education Center
opened at Tech. Lautala said he
hopes the new consortium will create more exposure for the program.
Also, Tech is one of 10 national centers focusing on rail transportation chosen for the project.
"I think the most exciting thing about this grant is there were only 10 in the country and they bypassed all the highways and airports and they picked a center dedicated to rail transportation," he