Tracks to the Future: Railroad Transportation and Engineering

For rising 9th – 12th graders
July 17th – July 21st, 2023 (Online then Residential with invitation)
Hendrick House Residence Hall

  • July 17 – 18, 2023 (Online component)
  • July 19 – 21, 2023 (Residential by invitation component at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus)

NOTE: This camp is organized by Michigan Technological University. For questions about this particular camp, contact or 906-487-2219.

Students apply to this camp through Michigan Technological University, which hosts the online component. Accepted campers are then placed in the residential component here through the Michigan Tech University application process.

2023 Tracks to the Future webpage

Registration for Tracks to the Future for Summer 2023 is now closed.


FREE thanks to a grant from the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. This includes all materials plus camp staffing, overnight accommodations in a campus residence hall, meals, and insurance for the on-campus portion of the program. Campers are responsible for their own travel expenses to and from campus.

2022 campers with their certificates
2022 campers with their certificates

Railroads are a high-tech and environmentally sensitive transportation mode! Don’t believe us? Come and learn why railroads remain the most energy-efficient mode of transportation.  Engage with university faculty from the University of Illinois, Michigan Technological University, and Pennsylvania State University as you uncover what forms modern railroad tracks, explore railway equipment from around the globe, and analyze the latest operations, communication, and control systems might take. Learn how rail compares with other modes and leads the charge in reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions! Find out how it all works through virtual sessions, hands-on activities, and field visits to railroad facilities. Find out more on the Michigan Tech site for Tracks to the Future.

Hybrid Schedule:

July 17-18: virtual programming at your home
July 19-21: in-person on-campus and field visit activities.

Six host sites will be used this year in total:

For Session 1: Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI; Fresno State University in Fresno, CA; and University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC

For Session 2: Penn State University in Altoona, PA; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL; and University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM.

Each site will have a limited number of seats, each with full scholarship support.  You will be asked to rank your preference for the sites during the application process. Your preference and the number of students signing up for each site by the application deadline will be used to place you in a particular host site. Applications received after the deadline will be placed on a first-come-first-served basis.


rail road model with sand and gravel base

Camp Coordinator at UIUC

J. Riley Edwards, Ph.D., P.E., is a Research Associate Professor in the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois).  He obtained his BS degree in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University, and his MS and PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Dr. Edwards has worked for both CN and Hanson Professional Services, Inc. which included serving as a Construction Engineer on BNSF Railway’s Memphis Intermodal Expansion project.  Since 2007, Dr. Edwards has held various positions in RailTEC at Illinois where he oversees rail infrastructure research and advises graduate and undergraduate students concentrating in rail engineering.  His research interests are railway track and component design and performance. His research interests are railway infrastructure track system and component design and performance and failure modes associated with infrastructure components. His projects span from rail transit to heavy axle load (HAL) freight railroad applications.

NOTE: This application form is hosted by Michigan Technological University. For questions about this particular camp, contact or 906-487-2219.

Camp Schedule(s):