June 11, 2009--When IBM set
its sights on becoming an international rail
transportation leader, one of the first university partners they turned to was Michigan Technological University.
Michigan Techâ€™s Rail
Transportation Program is an emerging player educating future leaders for
the rail industry.
Today, as IBM unveils plans for its Global
Rail Innovation Center in Beijing, China, Pasi
Lautala, director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program, and
graduate student Shane Ferrell will represent Michigan Tech.
"Countries worldwide are recognizing the importance of rail transportation
and are accelerating their efforts to develop 21st century rail systems,"
said Lautala. "With its Global
Center, IBM is modeling a
new way of thinking, one that is not bound by national borders. Michigan Tech
is honored that IBM has recognized our leadership in rail related research and
education and has invited us to participate in such a groundbreaking
Michigan Tech's Rail Transportation Program, established in fall 2007 as part
of the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, has attracted strong support
from the railroad
industry. Its corporate sponsors include CSX, Union
Pacific and CN. CN
gave Michigan Tech $250,000 this spring to establish the Rail Transportation
a physical home for the Rail Transportation Program.
The program's innovative Summer
in Finland has already integrated an international component as part of an
interdisciplinary approach to rail education, and an initiative to establish a
multi-disciplinary certificate in rail transportation and engineering is
currently in progress.
Michigan Tech joins Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Joseph M.
Sussman; Judge Quentin L. Kopp, chairman of the California High Speed Rail
Authority; the German railroad Deutsche Bahn; Motorola; Railinc Corporation (a
subsidiary of the American Association of Railroads) and Sabre (a travel
network) as initial members of the new centerâ€™s advisory board.
Based at IBM's China Business Innovation
Center, the Global Rail
will focus on developing technologies that can increase railroad capacity,
efficiency, speed and safety while improving customer service.
"The global demand for rail is outpacing capacity, and todayâ€™s aging
infrastructure and technology wonâ€™t support the transportation needs of the
future," said Keith Dierkx, director of the new center. "Through the Global Rail
IBM is committed to working with our partners to develop and implement smarter
rail systems around the world. Railroads are energy efficient and can help
cities manage traffic congestion, improve environmental conditions and increase
The rise of high-speed passenger rail and smarter freight rail systems presents
an enormous challenge and an opportunity for the information technology and
rail industries. IBM already has researchers and consultants working on
high-speed rail projects around the world, including Australia,
China, France, The Netherlands, Russia, Taiwan
and the United Kingdom.
IBM chose Beijing as its rail innovation hub
because of China's
rapid advances in rail. In China,
investment in railway
transportation has tripled over last year and is expected to reach 600 billion
yuan (approximately $88 billion) by 2012.
Michigan Technological University
is a leading public research university, conducting research, developing new
technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and
sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and
graduate degree programs in engineering, forestry and environmental sciences,
computing, technology, business and economics, natural and physical sciences,
arts, humanities and social sciences.