Rail-safety center opens at UTPA - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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Rail-safety center opens at UTPA

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 10:46 pm

EDINBURG — The University of Texas-Pan American celebrated the opening of its new Transportation Center for Railway Safety on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an emphasis on applied research.

In a joint venture with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Texas A&M University, the center will conduct research on how to advance the performance and safety of railways and their component parts, according to a news release from the university.

Calling the research center’s opening both a personal and shared “dream come true,” Constantine Tarawneh, director of UTPA’s mechanical engineering graduate program, said he hopes the center will become one of the nation’s trendsetters for railway safety.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for us,” said UTPA President Robert Nelson, who highlighted the center’s focus on applied research.

Mechanical engineering professor Arturo Fuentes also said the center focuses on hands-on analysis and study.

“The first goal is we’re solving real-life problems,” he said. “We do a lot of testing.”

Fuentes said that the center will be able to engage in collaborative and multidisciplinary work with different companies and additional schools.

While the center currently counts on the work of 32 undergraduate and graduate students, Fuentes aspires for more.

“I hope that at some point we can double that,” he said.

Mechanical engineering senior Joseph Montalvo, said with applied research and learning, “you really get to put those skills to use.”

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