The University of South Florida has been awarded a $17 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement program. Designed to address the stability and growth of the railroad workforce, the project will be led by USF’s Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) and its partners from the Center for Surface Transportation Testing and Academic Research (C-STTAR), a consortium of universities and academic research centers focused on the transportation field.
According to the FRA, the industry is facing workforce shortages due to aging staff and critical skill gaps. This initiative will assist with challenges such as attracting individuals to railroading careers, as well as developing and promoting from within the industry.
The project will focus on primary and secondary school students, university students and existing railroad employees. Strategies include outreach, internships, technical training and other workforce development initiatives deployed across the country and at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colorado.
“This is extraordinary news for USF’s Center for Urban Transportation Research and it presents unequalled opportunity for us to make a difference across the transportation industry both now and into the future,” said project manager and CUTR Associate Director Lisa Staes. “With our partners, we have designed a robust and multifaceted program to draw people into railroading careers, develop high school and university students into future railroaders and rail researchers, and further grow the existing rail workforce with programs designed to build technical, managerial and leadership skills.”
C-STTAR project partners include ENSCO Inc., Colorado State University at Pueblo, Michigan Technological University, the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, Oregon State University, the University of Hawaii and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.