Villanova University Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Leslie McCarthy, PhD, PE, has 20 years of professional experience in transportation engineering. A recognized expert in pavement design, materials and construction, in recent years, Dr. McCarthy has added railway engineering to her list of specialties. For academics committed to this field, a common goal is seeing their institution added to the list of National University Rail (NURail) Center affiliate members. A consortium committed to promoting and facilitating the development of academic programs in railway engineering, NURail is a response to the resurgence of the rail transportation industry and its aging workforce. In November, Villanova was granted NURail affiliate member status, and became the only university in the Philadelphia region recognized as such.
In a letter sent to Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, NURail Director Christopher P.L. Barkan, PhD, welcomed the University to the program and expressed the group’s strong support for Dr. McCarthy’s commitment to “developing, establishing and sustaining educational and research activities in rail transportation and engineering at Villanova University.”
A Tier-1 University Transportation Center under the US Department of Transportation Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research & Technology program, NuRail Center is a seven-university consortium hosted by the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The affiliate program is intended to support and encourage rail research and education beyond NuRail’s consortium membership.
For its affiliates, the Center commits to collaborating and cooperating on research initiatives, and providing access to fellow members’ current and future research. In the classroom, NuRail offers assistance and guidance on curriculum and educational material development. Lastly, the Center helps affiliate members make connections with leaders in the rail sector, which is one of Dr. McCarthy’s goals. “We have established a very rewarding relationship with the SEPTA Rail Division and I would like for our next step to be an academic partnership with a railway company like CSX, Long Island Railroad, ConRail, or Amtrak; the resulting student placement and research opportunities would be mutually beneficial,” she says. “I look forward to the College of Engineering further committing itself to supporting this effort and helping to establish itself as a leader in this field, particularly for the Mid-Atlantic region.”