In Revitalizing Railroad Club, Student Sparks New Interest in Industry



By Olivia Dimmer
Daniel Rappoport adds grass to this section of model railroad in Alumni Hall.


Daniel Rappoport (CE 2nd year), president and founder of the Illinois Tech Railroad Club: The history of the Illinois Tech Railroad Club actually dates back to 1948. Over progress of the years they were able to build a gigantic model railroad. And so when I came to campus I knew a little bit about Illinois Tech’s history with model railroading, so I was really passionate about starting the club again.

The way we founded was I got some of my friends together, and I took them to a model train show. And so over the course of a half a year and over summer, we worked together, we struggled a lot, a lot of things had to be redone, but we ended up building the little section and that was enough to show that our club could be successful. Afterward we got university funding and space to start building a full-size model railroad.

Chicago is actually the railroad capital of North America. This is where the seven multibillion-dollar railroads all connect. There are lots of job opportunities and even like infrastructure to go and see, and so I worked with my professors to make our club a official student chapter of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. This is the engineering organization that all railroad professionals are part of, and so through this organization we’ve been able to do guest speakers, we’ve gotten tours of real railroad infrastructure, and also many of our members actually now have internships in the railroad industry.

It’s a very cool technological aspect because it’s a combination of many different majors, from the software to the hardware to construction and real infrastructure, and it’s also a very tangible thing. Trains are big, they’re loud, they’re powerful. Our members and I really see a future in this industry as we go into our careers.