CN Renews Support for Rail Program


CN makes donation to CEE's Railroad Engineering Program.

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The ceremonial check presentation (left to right): Professor and Head Amr S. Elnashai; David Ferryman of CN; Professor Chris Barkan, director of the Railroad Engineering Program; Lecturer J. Riley Edwards.
CN has made a new $325,000 donation to the Railroad Engineering Program, a gift which renews the company’s generous commitment to railroad engineering education.
“This gift allows us to continue and extend our success in developing courses, conducting research, and teaching students about rail transport and engineering,” said Professor Christopher P. L. Barkan, the director of the Railroad Engineering Program. “The gift also provides key funding for our railroad engineering lecturer position which has greatly expanded our unique ability to prepare our students for careers in the railroad industry.”
CN has now donated more than $1 million since 2002 in support of the Railroad Engineering Program, the largest in North America and headquartered within CEE at Illinois. 
“We are proud that our support of the Railroad Engineering Program helps today's students become tomorrow's railroaders,” said Jim Vena, CN Senior Vice President, Southern Region. “The University of Illinois provides its engineering students with a strong knowledge of railroading evident in the talented graduates and interns we have hired from this program in recent years."
In 2002, CN’s initial gift of $400,000 was matched by the University and endowed an ongoing fellowship supporting graduate students' research and education in rail engineering. In 2006, a $300,000 gift helped establish the lecturer position.
Railroad engineering Lecturer J. Riley Edwards (MS 06), a member of the CEE faculty since 2007, is the current holder of the CN-sponsored lectureship. Edwards holds a bachelor of engineering degree with a concentration in transportation engineering from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois where his coursework and research were focused on rail. In 2004, Edwards worked as a CN intern. After graduating from Illinois, he spent a year working for Hanson Professional Services Inc.
Edwards teaches a capstone design course on railroad project planning and construction management. He has research interests in the areas of railroad civil engineering, railroad applications of machine vision, and railroad infrastructure maintenance and management planning.
Through the CN Stronger Communities Fund, CN supports health and safety programs for young people, transportation education, the CN Railroaders in the Community employee volunteer grant program, and United Way. CN is committed to contributing one per cent of pre-tax profit to registered, non-profit organizations in communities where its employees work and where it operates.
CN, CN National Railway Company and its operating railway subsidiaries, spans Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico, serving the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., and the key metropolitan areas of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis/St Paul, Memphis, St. Louis and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information on CN, visit the company’s website at

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This story was published July 1, 2010.