Testing the Tracks: CMU Researchers Use Vibrations to Spot Weaknesses in Train Rails

While a failure to switch tracks caused the derailment in 2012, other more normal factors like wear and tear on tracks can lead to derailment too. To prevent future accidents, Carnegie Mellon Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Hae Young Noh, with ProfessorsJacobo Bielak (CEE), Jelena Kova?evi? (ECE), Dean of the College of Engineering Jim Garrett, PhD student George Lederman, and Piervincenzo Rizzo of the University of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the Port Authority of Alleghany County, are testing new technology to spot possible dangers for trains on tracks before they become problems. The Light Rail system, also called the “T”, is their testing ground. Noh’s range of research focuses heavily on implementing sensors into structures to improve daily life. In addition to her work with trains, she is using sensors within buildings to detect people for safety and security purposes, and to identify how they use resources and spaces.