Ben Biesterveld, PE
If I’m being honest, I hadn’t considered working in the rail industry until my senior year at Michigan Tech. Growing up in small town Wisconsin, there were railroad tracks that ran through the woods near my house, but that was the extent of my rail knowledge and interest.
However, Michigan Tech students are typically a good fit for the rail industry as they often work on complex problems/projects with people from multiple departments, usually in an outdoor environment. Throughout my senior year, I kept in touch with a good friend who graduated from Tech ahead of me and had been hired by CSXT. He would tell me about where and what he was working on, how he enjoyed the type of work, the people, and the places he got to experience. Most notably of these, was his involvement in rebuilding the track structure along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
Going to the career fair in fall 2005, I stopped by the CSXT booth and got a first interview on campus, and then a second down in Jacksonville, FL. I graduated from Michigan Tech in spring 2006 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and have been working at CSXT ever since.
Working for the railroad has been a rewarding 10 years so far as I have been able to meet all kinds of different people, work on different projects, and visit a lot of places I had never been before. I started as a Management Trainee for Signal Maintenance in Indianapolis, IN. Then I moved down to Jacksonville, FL and held a few different positions in Public Projects working with Public Agencies on their projects which involved the railroad, such as highway-rail grade crossing projects, or vehicular bridges being built over the railroad.
After that I moved to Birmingham, AL and was the Supervisor for Signal Maintenance for the “Hump” Classification Yard, and also the surrounding main line track. Then I moved to Richmond, VA and worked again in Public Projects.
My current position is in Jacksonville, FL at our Headquarters building. I am working on projects that are upgrading older relay based signal systems to newer microprocessor based signal systems in preparation for the federally mandated implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) across most of our rail network.
There are a lot of different departments involved in getting freight from its origin to its destination. One of the benefits of working for a large company like CSXT is that there are so many different types of positions all across the country that you have the opportunity to learn and gain experience, and find something that you truly enjoy.