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Graduate Students in Advanced Structural Dynamics visit BNSF Offices and Bridges in Belen, NM

April 28, 2016

A group of seven graduate students from the Department of Civil Engineering and Dr. Fernando Moreu, Assistant Professor, were given a tour by the engineering team of BNSF at their offices in Belen, NM, as part of the class on advanced structural dynamics. The CE students and faculty were introduced to the operations of the transcontinental corridor, carrying up to 100 trains/day, by engineers Dante Zuniga, supervisors of BNSF bridges and structures in New Mexico, and James Silver, a recent graduate from the department of civil engineering now working in bridges and structures for the BNSF. The field trip included conversations with the yard master, discussions about other railroads and operations in the country related to infrastructure and transportation, and safety considerations in the railroad, including descriptions of Positive Train Control (PTC) and future trends in the railroad industry. After the visit to the main offices, the group composed of three cars moved to a nearby double bridge crossing the Rio Grande. Students were then briefed again with safety instructions by their fellow alumni Silver, and them followed him and Zuniga to tour and inspect the two bridges. The field visit included observing two train crossings. Students were able to discuss with the BNSF railroad at site topics related to structural dynamics, design, and bridge inspection and rating. The department plans to continue collaborating with BNSF in expanding the railroad engineering education and research in UNM and will plan to visit in the near future bridge replacements and upgrades across the state, always in coordination with BNSF operations. This field trip was part of advanced structural dynamics, a new course offered for the first time in the department (CE598-0004). This course includes derivation of equations of motion, computer simulations of structural dynamics systems, and laboratory experiments involving data acquisition and post-processing analysis. CE598-0004 will be available again in the Spring of 2017.

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