Georgia Tech Students Help CSX Innovate
CSX is creating the future of freight rail — with the help of some very clever college students.
Pop quiz: What does an average railroad maintenance team do up to 1,200 times in a single shift?
Answer: Install elastic fasteners, known as e-Clips, which secure the rail to a metal plate on top of the wooden railroad tie. E-Clips have been installed the same way —by a sledgehammer — since the 1930s.
The process is ripe for an upgrade – especially with all of the other innovation happening across the railroad recently. CSX turned to seniors at Georgia Tech for help.
Students enrolled in the Capstone Design Course, offered by The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, work in small groups and use engineering design skills to design, build and test prototypes in response to challenges proposed by industry and other sponsors. The course is the “capstone” of their undergraduate career.
“This is their time when they get to apply everything that they learned in the classrooms on a real world project. It’s something that actually makes them a real engineer,” said Amit Jariwala, director of design and innovation at Georgia Tech.
For the last three years, CSX has participated in the Capstone Design Course by providing project challenges, financial support, and access to employees and railroad facilities.
In 2016, the company proposed two challenges. One called for designing a tool that would replace the sledgehammer and make setting and applying e-Clips more efficient.
“CSX is committed to improving the health and safety of its employees, just like it is the health and safety of the public in general, so we’re always innovating for more efficient ways to perform work,” said Ken Glover, director of human performance at CSX.
The students visited CSX’s Railroad Education and Development Institute in Atlanta to interview subject matter experts, observe work practices and test design solutions. Their enthusiasm was evident.
“We get to start from scratch and start on something that hasn’t been done for 70 years,” said Dave Rybeck, a member of one of the project teams.
Watch the video to meet the team, see the working prototype they developed, and find out how they did it.
To further refine the idea, CSX plans to enhance and test the prototype with another project team during the spring semester.
There’s more to CSX than you might expect. Learn more at https://www.mnn.com/csxlocalmotive/.