Home » Railroad Museum to Launch “Rail Innovation in Action,” A New Problem-Solving Program High School Students
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Railroad Museum to Launch “Rail Innovation in Action,” A New Problem-Solving Program High School Students

Photo courtesy of Kelly B. Huston

The California State Railroad Museum (CSRM) is preparing to launch a new online program titled “Rail Innovation in Action” designed for high school students interested in real world problem solving and learning about the future of railroads. Supported by the California State Railroad Museum Foundation and working in partnership with The Lemelson-MIT (LMIT), a national leader in advancing invention education, the first-year focus of the virtual program will center on powering locomotives and reducing the environmental impact (from diesel electric to fuel cell).

“This unique program represents philosophy in action. CSRM is more than a museum, it is an active laboratory of learning and a museum without walls,” said Dr. Ty Smith, Museum Director of the California State Railroad Museum. “By having young people throughout the nation engaged with invention and innovation education, especially in the area of rail innovation, CSRM and LMIT help people to imagine their futures through understanding our collective past. Railroading is central to who we are as a people, but it is not merely a part of our distant history, it is fundamental to our present and future. The next generation of rail engineers, inventors, and innovators may not exist yet, it is our job to create them.”

Students will have the opportunity to engage with guest experts in the modern rail industry, work on lab simulations and in group exercises, and participate in career talks. Prior experience about railroading is not required to participate in this pilot program, simply a desire to gain knowledge, acquire new skills, and learn how to work collaboratively to problem solve.

“The program is exceptionally high quality and will have a significant impact on those that are able to participate,” said Stephanie Couch, Executive Director of the Lemelson-MIT Center. “We also want young people to discover challenges they can help solve if they choose to pursue a college/career path related to the transportation sector. In this first offering, students will work in teams to identify a research topic, an idea for an app, or an idea for an invention that solves a problem they care about.”

The “Rail Innovation in Action” course will take place in three-hour sessions on six consecutive Saturdays starting on September 28, 2024, and applications are open now through August 16. The accessible and free online program is open to high school students of all backgrounds and interests who are based locally, regionally, or nationwide. At the conclusion of the interactive course, participants will receive a certificate of completion plus develop research and invention skills that are transferrable to college and future career endeavors.

To apply or find our more information about the new “Rail Innovation in Action” program, please visit www.californiarailroad.museum/RIA. And, for more information about the California State Railroad Museum or Foundation, please visit www.californiarailroad.museum.

About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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