Athens, OH 12 March 2014 – Earlier this week, the Engineering Ambassadors went on our annual professional development corporate trip. This year, we went to Chicago for a couple of days and visited different companies and met several OU alumni. The companies ranged from a fry grease regeneration and processing facility to a civil engineering firm that inspected the structure of some of the city’s iconic skyscrapers.
One of the places we visited was TTX, a railcar pooling company. This company fills a unique niche in that it rents its iconic yellow railcars to the major railways for as long as they are needed, and then the cars are transported short distances to the location to where they can be used next, similar to a rental car company.
This was one of the most interesting companies because it appealed to the broad range of engineers present, and we were all able to see real-life applications of our own discipline as well as the other engineering disciplines. The mechanical engineers were able to see how the cars themselves were designed and retrofitted to meet the changing demands. The aviation majors drew parallels between the railcars and airplanes in the amount of time the vehicle could stay in use as well as required inspections. As an industrial engineer, I was interested to learn about the logistics of the railcar movements as well as the way this method was more efficient than the individual railways buying their own cars. We all benefitted from seeing the business side of engineering required in finding what the market requires and negotiating with clients.
All of the employees we talked to at TTX were very hospitable and more than willing to answer all the questions that we had. All the engineers who went enjoyed the trip; it was enlightening, showing us how much more applications there are in the engineering field than anyone realizes. It was encouraging to get outside the classroom and see real-life applications, especially seeing the work that OU graduates were doing in the years after leaving Athens.