Faculty Profile

John Riley Edwards

John Riley Edwards
John Riley Edwards

Primary Research Area

  • Transportation Engineering

Education

  • M.S. Civil Engineering University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2006
  • B.E. Civil Engineering Vanderbilt University 2004

Biography

J. Riley Edwards is a Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer in Railroad Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He obtained his Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2004. After obtaining his Bachelors degree, he worked for the Canadian National Railway as a Construction Inspector on their Intermodal Gateway Memphis project. After working at Canadian National, Riley attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to obtain a Masters in Civil Engineering concentrating and completing research in Railroad Engineering. He graduated in May of 2006 and worked for Hanson Professional Services, Inc. as a Construction Engineer on BNSF Railway￿s Memphis Intermodal Expansion project in Tennessee. In October of 2007, Riley accepted a position as a Lecturer in the Railroad Engineering Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he oversees research and advises graduate and undergraduate students concentrating in Railway Engineering. In 2012 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Railway Engineering, and in 2013 he was promoted to Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer. His research interests are concrete railway crosstie and fastener design and performance and the design and performance of railway infrastructure in general.

Academic Positions

  • Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer in Railway Engineering 2013 - Present
  • Senior Lecturer in Railway Engineering 2012 ￿ 2013
  • Lecturer in Railway Engineering 2007 ￿ 2012

For more information

Major Consulting Activities

  • Union Pacific Railroad - Concrete Crosstie Performance, 2014-Present (with David Lange and Marcus Dersch)
  • Amsted RPS - Evaluation of Concrete Crossties and Fastening System Performance, 2011-Present (with Marcus Dersch)
  • IDOT High Speed Rail - Consulting Services Regarding the Adequacy of New Concrete Ties, 2010-Present (with David Lange and Marcus Dersch)
  • Amtrak (Concrete Tie Failures and Design Solutions), Northeast US, 2008-2011 (With David Lange and Ernie Barenberg)

Professional Registrations

  • P.E. (Illinois) 2014
  • EIT (Kentucky) 2006

Research Statement

Edwards has research interests in the areas of railroad civil engineering, design and performance of railway infrastructure components, and railroad infrastructure maintenance and maintenance planning. He has ongoing research projects with Class I railroads, rail industry suppliers, and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Railroad infrastructure engineering research topics.

Research Interests

  • My primary research area is railway sleeper and fastening system design for passenger and freight applications, with focus on materials that are averse to rail seat deterioration and other common failure modes. Additional research areas include the application of machine vision technology to railroad inspection tasks. Specifically these inspection tasks include inspection of the track structure, the structural integrity of the railcar, loading of intermodal trains, as well as other mechanical railcar components.

Books Authored or Co-Authored (Original Editions)

  • Edwards, J.R. (2006). Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Railcar Safety Appliance Inspections Using Machine Vision Technology. Masters Thesis. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, May 2006, pp 1-150

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Williams, B.W., D. Holder, J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, and C.P.L. Barkan. 2015. Quantification of Lateral Forces in Concrete Sleeper Fastening Systems. Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit. (Accepted)
  • Chen, Z., Andrawes, B., and Edwards, J.R. 2014. Finite Element Modeling and Field Validation of Prestressed Concrete Sleepers and Fastening Systems, Structure and Infrastructure Engineering. (Accepted)
  • Van Dyk, B.J., C.T. Rapp, M.J. Greve, A.J. Scheppe, J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, and C.P.L. Barkan. 2014. Methods for Quantifying Rail Seat Loads and Review of Previous Experimentation. Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit. (Accepted)
  • Chen, Z., Shin, M., Andrawes, B., and Edwards, J.R. 2014. Parametric Study on Damage and Load Demand of Prestressed Concrete Crosstie and Fastening Systems. Engineering Failure Analysis. (Accepted)
  • Van Dyk, B., J.R. Edwards, C.J. Ruppert, and C.P.L Barkan. 2014. Load Characterization Techniques and Overview of Loading Environment in North America. Transportation Research Record (TRR) - Journal of the Transportation Research Board. (in-press)
  • Kernes, R.G., A.A. Shurpali, J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, D.A. Lange, and C.P.L. Barkan. 2014. Investigation of the mechanics of rail seat deterioration and methods to improve the abrasion resistance of concrete sleeper rail seats. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (in press).
  • Shurpali, A.A., J.R. Edwards, R.G. Kernes, D.A. Lange, C.P.L. Barkan. 2014. Investigation of Material Improvements to Mitigate the Effects of the Abrasion Mechanism of Concrete Crosstie Rail Seat Deterioration. ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering. Volume 140, Number 2, pp 04013009-1-6.
  • Rapp, C., M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, C.P.L. Barkan, B. Wilson, and J. Mediavilla. 2013. Measuring Rail Seat Pressure Distribution in Concrete Crossties. Transportation Research Record (TRR). - Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2374: 190-200.
  • Zeman, J., J.R. Edwards, D.A. Lange, C.P.L. Barkan. 2012. Hydraulic Pressure Cracking in the Rail Seats of Concrete Crossties. American Concrete Institute (ACI) Materials Journal. Vol 109, NO 6, pp 639-646.
  • Schlake, B.W., C.P.L. Barkan, and J.R. Edwards 2011. Train Delay and Economic Impact of Railroad Rolling Stock In-Service Failures. Transportation Research Record (TRR) - Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2261: 124-133

Articles in Conference Proceedings

  • Wei, S., D. Kuchma, M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, D.A. Lange. 2015. Laboratory and field investigation of concrete sleeper load path and support conditions. In: Proceedings of the 2015 International Heavy Haul Association Conference, Perth, Austrailia. June 2015).
  • Greve, M.J., M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, C.P.L Barkan. 2015. The effect of particle intrusion on rail seat load distribution on heavy haul freight railroads. In: Proceedings of the 2015 International Heavy Haul Association Conference, Perth, Austrailia. June 2015).
  • Scheppe, A.J., J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, and C.P.L Barkan. 2015. Quantifying Lateral Wheel Loading Variation Using Truck Performance Detectors. In: Proceedings of the 2015 International Heavy Haul Association Conference, Perth, Austrailia. June 2015).
  • Holder, D., M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, C.P.L Barkan. 2015. Quantification of Lateral Forces in Concrete Sleeper Fastening Systems Under Heavy Haul Freight Loads. In: Proceedings of the 2015 International Heavy Haul Association Conference, Perth, Austrailia. June 2015).
  • Wolf, H.E, J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, and C.P.L Barkan. 2015. Flexural Analysis of Prestressed Concrete Monoblock Crossties for Heavy-Haul Applications: Comparison of Current Methodologies and Sensitivity to Support Conditions. In: Proceedings of the 2015 International Heavy Haul Association Conference, Perth, Austrailia. June 2015).
  • Wolf, H., M. Csenge, M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, C.P.L Barkan. 2015. Exploration of alternatives for prestressed concrete monoblock crosstie design based on flexural capacity. In: Proceedings of the 2015 Joint Rail Conference, San Jose, CA, USA, March 2015.
  • Greve, M.J., M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, C.P.L Barkan, H. Thompson, T. Sussmann, and M. McHenry. 2015. Evaluation of Laboratory and Field Experimentation Characterizing Concrete Crosstie Rail Seat Load Distributions. In: Proceedings of the 2015 Joint Rail Conference, San Jose, CA, USA, March 2015.
  • Greve, M.J., M.S. Dersch, J.R. Edwards, C.P.L Barkan, H. Thompson, T. Sussmann, and M. McHenry. 2015. Examination of the Effect of Concrete Crosstie Rail Seat Deterioration on Rail Seat Load Distribution. Proceedings of Transportation Research Board (TRB) 94th Annual Meeting. Washington D.C. (January 2015).
  • Wolf, H.E, S. Mattson, J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, and C.P.L Barkan. 2015. Flexural Analysis of Prestressed Concrete Monoblock Crossties: Comparison of Current Methodologies and Sensitivity to Support Conditions. Proceedings of Transportation Research Board (TRB) 94th Annual Meeting. Washington D.C. (January 2015).
  • Scheppe, A.J., J.R. Edwards, M.S. Dersch, and C.P.L Barkan. 2015. Quantifying Lateral Wheel Loading Variation Using Truck Performance Detectors. Proceedings of Transportation Research Board (TRB) 94th Annual Meeting. Washington D.C. (January 2015).

Invited Lectures

  • A Mechanistic Approach to Concrete Crosstie and Fastening System Design
  • Concrete Railroad Crosstie Design and Performance
  • Concrete Crossties and Fastening Systems:Previous Experiences, Current Research, and Future Advances
  • Concrete Crossties and Fastening Systems ￿ Quantifying Loads and Developing Mechanistic Design Practices
  • Concrete Railroad Crosstie Design and Performance
  • Rail Transportation's Role in a Balanced Freight and Passenger Transportation System
  • US Passenger and Freight Rail Capacity Expansion Projects
  • US Passenger and Freight Rail Capacity Expansion Projects
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Chapter Meeting
  • High Speed Rail in North America

Magazine Articles

  • J.R. Edwards 2013. Trains Magazine, November 2013, Page 20. "Hard truths about concrete ties".
  • J.R. Edwards, Dersch, M.S., Kernes, R.G., and Ruppert, C.J. 2012. Railway Track and Structures (RT&S), October 2012. "University of Illinois concrete crosstie group fastens up research challenges".

Professional Societies

  • Steering Committee for University of South Carolina Concrete Tie Research Project (FRA Funded)
  • Student Chapter Coordinator for the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA). As a part of my duties on Committee 24, I oversaw student chapter relations and development throughout the U.S. During my time, we started 6 new student chapters, with additional ones in the planning stages. (2009-2012)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) (2007-Present)
  • Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) (2002-2006)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers Member 2002-Present Member of Rail Transportation Committee (2007-Present)
  • American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association Member (2004-Present) Member of Committee 24 ￿ Education and Training (2007-2013) Member of Committee 30 - Ties (2008-Present) Member of Committee 5 - Track (2013-Present)
  • Chair - TRB's Standing Committee on Railroad Track Structure System Design (AR050), 2015-2018
  • Transportation Research Board, Member 2004-Present, Member of TRB's Standing Committee on Railroad Track Structure System Design (AR050), Member of Railway Maintenance Committee (AR060)

Service on University Committees

  • CEE Administrative Forum - 2011-2012

Service on Campus Committees

  • Principal organizer for the 2016 International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium. This event wwill be held at UIUC in May or June 2016.
  • Principal organizer for the 2014 International Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium. This event was attended by approximately 150 industry experts from around the world to come together for technical discussions on design and performance issues relating to crossties and fastening systems. The event was held at UIUC June 3-5th, 2014.
  • Principal organizer for the 2012 International Concrete Crosstie and Fastening System Symposium. This event was attended by approximately 90 industry experts from around the world to come together for technical discussions on design and performance issues relating to concrete crossties and fastening systems. The event was held at UIUC June 6-8th, 2012.
  • Additional leadership and planning experience was gained through work as the ASCE Conference Co-Chair for the 2010 ASCE/ASME/IEEE/TRB/AREMA Joint Rail Conference, held on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign April 27-29, 2010
  • Acted in the principle organizational role for the Railway Engineering Education Symposium, held from June 8-11, 2008 in which over 30 professors from other Civil Engineering schools were invited to the University of Illinois to gain a greater understanding of railroad engineering fundamentals and will be provided with railroad engineering material to take back to their respective universities. REES was extremely successful, and stimulated interest in Railroad Engineering education at many schools throughout North America. I also worked as the academic coordinator for the REES 2010 event in Overland Park, KS, which was made up of another 25 interested faculty to teach them the basics of railroad engineering for inclusion into their courses.

Service to Federal and State Government

  • Lead organizer for 4 August 2014 visit of Honorable Joseph Szabo, FRA Administrator. Visit to CEE and to CERL Schnabel Facility
  • Provide guidance to Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) on their use of concrete crossties and fastening systems for higher speed passenger rail systems in the State of ILlinois. (2010-Present)

Honors

  • Progressive Railroading Rising Star Award (2015) (23 March 2015)

Teaching Honors

  • List of Professors Named as Excellent (CEE 411) (Spring 2014)
  • List of Professors Named as Excellent (CEE 411) (Spring 2013)
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising (Spring 2013)
  • List of Professors Named as Excellent (CEE 411) (Spring 2012)
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising (Spring 2011)
  • List of Professors Named as Excellent (CEE 411) (Spring 2011)
  • List of Professors Named as Excellent (CEE 498RD) (Spring 2010)
  • List of Professors Named as Excellent (CEE 498RD) (Spring 2009)

Public Service Honors

  • Operation Lifesaver Volunteer Presenter ￿ Highway-Grade Crossing Safety and Trespasser Fatality Prevention Along Railroad Rights-of-way (inactive now)
  • Civitan Club International
  • Engineers Without Borders (EWB), East Central Illinois Professional Chapter, Vice President (2008-2010)

Other Honors

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) (2007-Present)
  • Transportation Research Board Member (2008-Present) Member of Railway Design Committee (AR050) Member of Railway Maintenance Committee (AR060) Chair of Railway Design Committee (AR050) (2015-Present)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Member of Rail Transportation Committee, Part of T&DI Joint Rail Conference Planning Committee (2009 and 2010)
  • American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) (2004-Present) Member of Ties Committee (C-30), Concrete Tie Technology Subcommittee (Sub-4) Member of Education and Training Committee (C-24), University Relations Subcommittee, Student Chapter Coordinator (2011-2013) Member of Track Committee (C-5) (2013 - Present) Member of Tie Committee (C-30), Member of Concrete Tie Subcommittee (S-4)