Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Engineers use Math

All Aboard for "Math Madness!"

"Math Madness" continued on March 31st, when our presenter was Quincy West.  Mr. West is presently a conductor on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, but he is training to be an engineer.

One of the ways Mr. West uses math has to do with time and distance.  Scheduling is very important on the railroad.  He works out of Alliance and has one and a half hours to report to work after he has been called.  He may travel as far away as Ravenna, NE, which is a distance of 230 miles.  

Mr. West showed us a work order.  Speed limits, weight, and track conditions are some of the things that have to be figured in to determine how long it takes to get from one point to another.  Trains have signal lights to obey in order to keep trains from getting too close to one another.  Numbers used in today's presentation were large.  Instead of talking just about pounds, Mr. West talked about tons.  For example, it would take approximately four semi-trucks to haul the weight of a train car.

Josie passed out an interesting fact sheet about the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  Here are some of those facts:
     There are 32,500 miles of track in 28 states and three Canadian provinces.
     The railroad hauls lots of coal out of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.
     They haul enough coal to power one out of 10 homes in the nation.
     The BNSF transports enough grain to supply 900 million people with a year's supply of bread.
     A new car or truck is loaded on an automobile train every 15 seconds.
     Enough fertilizer is hauled in one year to fertilize a field the size of Kansas.
     The asphalt hauled by BNSF in a year is enough to lay a single lane road four times around the equator.

The last thing Mr. West talked to us about was safety.  Because of the weight of the trains, they can't stop immediately.  He reminded us that drivers should never try to beat a train at the crossing.  That six minutes you might save is not worth your life!

Thank you, Mr. West, for showing us how important math is when working for the railroad!

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