November 16, 2016

On September 12, 2008, a Metrolink commuter train and a freight train collided in Los Angeles, California, killing twenty-five people and injuring many more. A month later, President George W. Bush singed into law the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Among its provisions, the Rail Safety Improvement Act mandates that rail systems use Positive Train Control technology. A PTC system is an integrated command, control, communications, and information system that can safely control the movement of a train. It can integrate sensors, software, hardware, and updated digital communication technologies into existing railroad infrastructure with the ultimate goal of improving safety, security, and operational effectiveness.

Today, many areas of the United States are still struggling with the development and implementation of PTC systems. Although the deadline has been extended to 2018, time is running out for many jurisdictions to comply with the regulations.

Enter recent master's grad Becky Szpieg.

Szpieg dedicated her final project in the Systems Engineering program to her idea for an Advanced Railway Control System, or ARCS.

Intended for U.S. high-speed railways, ARCS can integrate more advanced technology into the current high-speed railroad infrastructure, says Szpieg, providing safer rail transportation by modernizing railway management and supporting systems.

Szpieg received her bachelor's degree in computer science from Rowan University and is currently working as a systems engineer for Lockheed Martin, supporting the Federal Aviation Administration in the development of Enroute Air Traffic Control Systems.

The Systems Engineering program at Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals regularly highlights the applied systems design projects and in-depth thesis research of its students. We will continue to make these presentations available so that they can benefit the entire systems engineering community.