Hanson pledges major gift to rail program
Hanson executives and CEE at Illinois alumni meet with department personnel during a recent visit to Hanson Professional Services. From left, Hanson Professional Services Inc. Executive Vice President Robert Cusick (BS 75, MS 76), P.E., S.E.; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor and Executive Director of the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) Christopher Barkan; Hanson President and CEO Sergio “Satch” Pecori (BS 73, MS 74), P.E., ExecEng; U of I Professor and Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Amr S. Elnashai; Hanson Executive Vice President John Coombe (MS 78), P.E., S.E., ExecEng; and U of I Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Director of Advancement John Southwood pose for a photo Monday, April 29, 2013, at Hanson’s Springfield, Ill., headquarters.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) recently received a $150,000 gift from Hanson Professional Services Inc. of Springfield, Ill. This gift, to be issued over five years, renews the company’s continued commitment to railroad engineering and the University of Illinois.
Hanson previously pledged $150,000 over five years in support of RailTEC. That gift helped fund a new teaching position and expand the railroad engineering program. Hanson, founded in 1954 by U of I alumnus and former civil engineering faculty member Walter E. Hanson (MS 47), has been a longtime supporter of the program.
“Hanson has been an invaluable partner in our efforts to rebuild the U of I rail program, and we are deeply grateful,” Professor and RailTEC Executive Director Christopher Barkan said. “Their support has made it possible for us to teach several new cutting-edge courses in rail engineering, thereby attracting many more students and encouraging them to pursue careers in the rail industry.”
For more than a century, U of I’s railroad engineering program — known since 2010 as RailTEC — has been recognized in the rail industry as North America’s premier railroad engineering program. Headquartered within CEE at Illinois, the program has the largest selection of courses and broadest array of rail-related research of any North American university. Illinois also is home to an Association of American Railroads Affiliated Laboratory, one of three in the nation.
Supported by Hanson, Amsted Rail Co. Inc. and several major railroads, including BNSF Railway Co., Canadian National Railway Co., CSX Transportation Inc. and Union Pacific Railroad, RailTEC provides leadership in research and curriculum development and encourages students to pursue careers in rail engineering, transportation planning and operations.
Hanson serves as an industry partner to RailTEC as part of a team researching ways to improve concrete crossties and fastening systems for U.S. high-speed passenger rail and corridors for passenger and freight. Hanson also is assisting RailTEC on a high-speed rail feasibility study that RailTEC is conducting for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“Hanson is committed to advancing the field of railroad engineering, and we’re proud to continue our support of RailTEC and the University of Illinois,” said Sergio “Satch” Pecori, P.E., ExecEng, Hanson’s president and chief executive officer and an alumnus of University of Illinois’ civil engineering program. "We’re excited about the opportunity to work with RailTEC on research and development projects as well as student mentoring. Railroad engineering is an important market for our company. It not only offers potential growth in revenue and number of projects but also professional growth for our employee owners.”