My first involvement with the rail industry came as a summer internship with CSX Transportation in 2007. The experience got me interested in a rail career, so after my return to Michigan Tech, I tried to find a way to combine my two passions; railroads and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Fortunately, I was able to secure another internship with Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad (LS&I) in Negaunee, MI for the summer of 2008 and after getting some more experience through Dr. Lautala’s CE 5409 Track Engineering and Design course, LS&I hired me full time as their Civil Engineer in 2009.
Since then, I’ve been able to work in multiple leadership positions in the organization, ranging from track maintenance to car and locomotive maintenance. Moving between positions, some of which have been a stretch to my civil engineering background, have really allowed me to learn new things on daily basis and my job has never turned into boring repetition. I’ve also been able to continue my collaboration with Michigan Tech’s Rail Program through student projects that we’ve sponsored, annual field visits by the Railroad Club, and most recently as a member of the Rail Transportation Advisory Board (RTAB).
Since 2013, I’ve been in my current position as Section Manager Maintenance. Only five years after my graduation, I am responsible for the entire maintenance group at LS&I. This includes everything from railroad infrastructure to motive power. Under this wide range of assets I maintain include the Marquette Ore Dock, which is over 100 years old and has seen over 450 million tons since 1912. The majority of that tonnage was moved with railcars that were built in 1937, which we still maintain today. Similar to the overall rail industry I’m challenged on a daily basis to determine economical projects that will continue to extend the life of those assets
I feel extremely blessed that I’ve been able to move my career forward with LS&I. In a short line railroad, like us, one needs to be an extremely versatile “jack of all trades”, but it also offers freedom to grow, both professionally and as a person. And the best of all, every day I get to spend time outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the Upper Peninsula.