A high-speed solution to traffic

Cal State Fullerton’s Rick Simon will speak Thursday at the College of Engineering and Computer Science Technology Breakfast. The topic of discussion will be the future of high-speed rail in California and will be held at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Fullerton from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Simon is an expert on the subject and has been a part of the industry for more than 30 years. He is knowledgeable on the vision held for high-speed railing in California and will address questions about California moving forward in developing and implementing high-speed rail systems.

“I think our transportation system has focused mostly on freeways in the previous decades and that’s what most civil engineering programs have focused on also,” said Simon. “I think, going forward in the future, we’re going to see more emphasis on rail projects and also projects that combine rail and highway.”

Active in the industry, Simon is currently overseeing the Los Angeles to San Diego section of the high-speed rail project. He is a senior project manager with HNTB Corporation, an infrastructure firm and one of several firms preparing engineering and environmental studies for the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s 800-mile program.

“We need more investment in our rail systems,” Simon said. “We need a more balanced transportation system that has a good freeway component but also a good rail component and a good airline component. We’ve underinvested in rail over the previous decades and we need to catch up with that. We need more support for rail projects in the population going forward in the future.”

The event is presented by the College of Engineering and Computer Science affiliates. Roussel Hart, the ECS director of development, said it’s important for the public, specifically engineers, to understand the key issues related to high-speed rail.

“Rick was recommended by the chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department since he is an adjunct with extensive experience in rail and high-speed rail” said Roussel. “High-speed rail is an important part of the future U.S. infrastructure plan and is currently part of the international infrastructure outlook.”

Simon currently teaches a course called “Railroad Engineering and High-Speed Rail,” which is offered through CSUF’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. The class was implemented into the curriculum in fall 2012 and 60 students were enrolled in the Saturday morning class. CSUF is the only university in the state and third in the country to offer this course.

“The engineers of the future are going to need to understand both highway design and railroad design in order to be able to meet the needs of future projects,” said Simon.
Associate professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering Prasada Rao said that CSUF is lucky to have recruited Rick Simon for the course.

“We wanted to introduce this emerging topic to our undergrad and graduate students,” said Rao.

“There are not many people in this country who are familiar with designing high-speed rail networks,” Rao said. “When we planned to offer the course we needed a well-qualified instructor.”

Rao said Simon is a perfect fit to teach the course with his knowledge of the environmental and construction aspects of engineering.

“He knows the high-speed network in different countries and he can identify which technology is needed for California,” Rao said.

The event is $10 for community members and free for ECS affiliates, CSUF students, alumni, faculty and staff.

About Roxanne Telles