Eric Cutright, Ph.D., explains the advanced computer technology being used in the rail industry to the technology-driven generation of Scouts.
Photo credit: TUV Rheinland of North America
Rail Safety Consulting, a division of TUV Rheinland Mobility Inc. (TUV RSC), has co-sponsored the railroading merit badge at the 2013 Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Jamboree held for the first time at the new 15,000-acre Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Mt. Hope, West Va.
The renowned quadrennial event was attended by approximately 32,000 scouts and 12,000 scout leaders and staff. Thousands of youth and adults visited the venue daily from July 15 – 24. About 600 scouts chose to participate in the RRMB class, staffed by several volunteers from the rail industry.
The RRMB course was coordinated by national RRMB chairman Charles Anderson of Western Towers and featured five stations: Operation Lifesaver, model railroading, signals and communications, timesaver switching model railroading challenge and online videos and tests, with the latter portion available to scouts to be completed via smart-phones.
Eric Cutright, Ph.D., senior safety and reliability engineer with TUV RSC, a 20-year veteran of the industry and a long-time volunteer in scouting, taught the signals and communications class.
“I enjoy working in the rail industry and wanted to do my best to get young scouts interested in this area,” said Cutright. “There are lots of stories about railway leaders who entered the industry because of the railroading merit badge they took as scouts.”
Signals and communications provided an overview of the different types of signals used in railroads, including hand signals with flags and lanterns, train whistle/horn signals, and traditional traffic-style railway signals. The class also examined train control and routing with a particular emphasis on computer-based control and the new Positive Train Control (PTC) technologies mandated by Congress. All scouts had to pass a written test to move to the next station.
The station had genuine equipment on display, including a large color light signal, a dwarf signal, a signal lantern, a location transponder and a traditional vital relay, as well as many photos of modern computer-based railway equipment to spark the interest of today’s technology-driven scouts.
“For many scouts, thinking about trains and railroads brings to mind old steam locomotives, 100-plus year old signal and switching logic, and their dad’s cool model railroading sets,” said Cutright. “My primary aim was to foster an appreciation for the advanced computer technology now being used in the rail industry, and I wanted to make this completely clear to this technology-driven generation of Scouts to really interest them in pursuing a railroad career.”
The first 30 scouts to finish the RRMB classes and the online portion were awarded with a working HO-scale model railroading locomotive.