New Faces in the rail industry
University of Texas-Pan American student Amy Gonzalez is on the fast-track to graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Her railroad safety research will help to save lives by preventing train derailments, and is also her ticket to a growing, global industry that will only continue to need bright, young talent in the future. In fact, there is a nationally-recognized demand for railroad professionals in the U.S., which will likely result in more scholarship opportunities, more incentives, and more jobs to attract youth to the industry over time.
Gonzalez, a first-generation college student who, growing up, always wanted to know "how things worked," discovered the rail industry while working toward her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. Excelling in her coursework, a professor, Dr. Constantine Tarawneh, offered her the opportunity to assist him with his railroad safety research. Now, Gonzalez conducts advanced flaw detection on railroad wheel bearings. This equates to detecting potential derailments, which are catastrophic to humans and to the environment, before they happen.
After earning her undergraduate engineering degree, she plans to pursue her master’s and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, still focusing on rail safety research. She said she then hopes to work for a national railroad agency like the Federal Railroad Association (FRA) or the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Part of her vision for the future is to someday be in the position to provide funding for university rail programs and college scholarships, so that even more students can and will continue to seek opportunities in the rail industry.
“Railroad has a lot of opportunities for students ? and I would like to expand it to more universities, that way students have the option and opportunity if they decide to pursue a career in transportation,” she said.
Gonzalez said she knew from an early age, especially because of her mother's encouragement, that education opens doors. Today, Gonzalez encourages all students to purse a college education to open the doors to their own futures.
“A bachelor’s degree gives you a foundation for any career that you choose,” she said.
The rail industry and other sectors of transportation provide many opportunities for students seeking an education in transportation-related disciplines. If you would like to learn more about opportunities and scholarships in the rail industry, you can start by checking out the FRA and AAR. You can also learn more about the University of Texas-Pan American's Railroad Research Group by clicking here.