Meet The Next Generation

Hosted by AREMA and Committee 24 – Education & Training

This event is tailored to give students the opportunity to learn about the railway industry and make meaningful connections as they enter the workforce. Attend the event and hear from the future leaders in the industry.


Panel Discussion
Monday, September 27
3:15 – 4:15 PM ET

Five panelists from various areas of the railway industry, with different years of experience will discuss the project types they have worked on, including the tracks they traveled which define their career paths, and answer attendee questions.

  • Welcome by AREMA President, Victor R. Babin
  • Introduction of Panel Members
  • Q&A
Find your Career
Sunday, September 26 – Thursday, September 30 
All Day
If you’re a student looking to start your career in the rail industry, be sure to stop by the company profiles of our sponsors and make your connections.  Each company will list what positions they are hiring for and you’ll be able to upload your resume directly to them.  Reach out to the company representatives to start the conversation and be sure to schedule a meeting.  These companies are looking to hire, come prepared!


Blanca Obregón
Rail Team Leader

Blanca Obregón, PE graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 with a BS in Civil Engineering. Blanca has 16 years of experience in the analysis, design, and estimating of railway, highway, and roadway projects. In working at TranSystems for the past 9 years, she has worked on various projects including capacity improvement, industry track, yard and terminal, and commuter rail projects. Blanca is a senior rail engineer in TranSystems’ Houston office as well as TranSystems Rail Practice Community Leader. She is a member of AREMA's Committee 24 and an occasional instructor for the Track Alignment Design Seminar.


Jonathan Grant, PE
Assistant Project Manager, Signaling Systems Renewal Program
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Jonathan graduated from the University of Florida in 2012 with a BS in Civil Engineering. He began his career with HNTB Corporation in 2011 as a Highway and Traffic Design Intern, quickly moving on to work full-time in their Transit department. Jonathan worked to design mainline and yard tracks for All Aboard Florida as well as SunRail. Taking his design experience to the Washington, DC area, he worked with WMATA to improve processes in their Track department, schedule outages in their maintenance department, and align staff augmentations in their procurement department. Within WMATA’s newly formed SSRP department, Jonathan serves in a management role, leading the charge in reestablishing systemwide ATO, which has been nonoperational since 2009.

Skylar Leach
Senior Engineer, Inspection and Specification Group

Skylar Leach graduated from Temple University in 2015 with a BS in Construction Management. He started at Amtrak in 2013 as a System Track Intern and progressed into the Management Trainee Program (Formerly known as the Management Associate Program) following his graduation in 2015. He worked the with Washington Terminal Track Maintenance Group in 2016 and with High Speed Surfacing Gangs in 2017. He completed the Management Training Program in 2018 and became an Engineer I in the Track Clearance, Inspection & Tests Group (A.K.A.: Track Geometry) where he worked mostly with the planning and programing of High Speed Surfacing Capital Plan and assisted with the development of Refence Surfacing under Amanda Kessler. He recently was promoted to Senior Engineer in the Inspection and Specification Group, where he will be working with the concrete tie/timber and switch manufacturers, continuing to provide engineering support to our production and construction gangs and reviewing project documents to ensure they follow Amtrak’s standards and specifications.
Nao Nishio
Intermodal Development Engineer
Canadian National Railway

Nao Nishio is an Intermodal Development Engineer in Multimodal/Intermodal Planning and Development at CN Railway.  During her MS program she interned in the Engineering Department for the Technology, Testing and Standards group at CN Railway, and she returned to the same department after graduation.  In her first full-time role she travelled the CN network as a track geometry car supervisor and was part of a special project to deploy eight (8) new autonomous track inspection boxcars.  This year Nao has taken a new challenge by joining the Intermodal Department to support rapidly increasing intermodal traffic by improving CN’s existing US intermodal facilities and developing new ones.  She is active in AREMA Committee 2 and holds a BS and MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2015; 2018).

Jaclyn Whelan, PE
Project Manager of Design 
Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail)

Jaclyn is Project Manager of Design for Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) in the Engineering Assets Department, overseeing engineering design review and approval of all of Conrail’s capital, customer, and third-party construction projects.  Jaclyn has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Villanova University.  She began her career at Jacobs as a structural specialist working on freight and transit rail structural projects.  In 2018, she accepted a position at AECOM as Senior Structural Engineer to lead freight rail structural design projects and public project reviews. Jaclyn is a member of AREMA Committee 10 – Structures Maintenance and Construction, AREMA Committee 15 – Steel Structures, chairs the development of the AREMA & NSBA publication, Guidelines to Design for Constructability and Fabrication of Railroad Steel Bridges, and is the Director of Chapter Relations for Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) – Philadelphia Chapter. Outside of work, Jaclyn enjoys baking and has recently picked up sewing upon inheriting her grandmother’s vintage sewing machine.
Edward Wu, PE
Director of Engineering
North Carolina Railroad Company (NCRR)

Edward currently serves as the Director of Engineering for the North Carolina Railroad Company. Edward has fifteen (15) plus years of experience in planning, design and construction of freight passenger rail network capacity expansion, rail bridge replacement and at‐grade crossing improvement in North America as a consultant and a Class I Management Employee. Edward graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Master of Engineering and is licensed as a professional engineer in civil engineering in the State of California. Edward is also a member of AREMA Committee 16: Economics of Railway Engineering & Operations.


To become a Meet the Next Generation Sponsor contact Lindsay McNicholas.