Engineering Alum Uses Education to Help Ensure Transit Safety Monday, October 11, 2010
Joseph Reutzel graduated from the electrical engineering technology program in 2005.
As a product safety engineer for Ansaldo STS, Joseph Reutzel analyzes designs of control systems used to operate light duty mass transit and heavy duty rail systems all across the country and around the world. Reutzel is a 2005 graduate of Point Park's electrical engineering technology program.
"(At Ansaldo STS), we work on systems that give speed limits to trains and signal that another train is in the area. I make sure that our products, in the event that they fail, fail safe-side - for example, they will either tell a vehicle to stop or give it a lower speed or no speed," said Reutzel.
Using software known to the industry as LabVIEW, Reutzel conducts automated testing on these systems over a long period of time and with different variables. He was introduced to LabVIEW during his studies at Point Park, and that knowledge helped set him apart from other candidates when interviewing at Ansaldo STS, formerly Union Switch and Signal.
"Most people coming into the field don't know much about the LabVIEW programming tool," he explained. "During my interview I toured the lab and they had someone working on the LabVIEW program at the time. I went over and asked some questions in a way to let them know that I knew the program. My potential manager took note of that and the employee, too, and they brought that to the attention of the vice president and lobbied for me to get hired."
"Joe was one of the best students I have ever had," recalled Donald Keller, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering and coordinator of the EET program. "Joe took two undergraduate courses and did an independent study with me in his senior year and did extremely well. I figured he would do very well in his career."
Brian Berke is one of Reutzel's colleagues at Ansaldo STS and has been learning from Reutzel for the past year. "Joe is quite an intelligent guy and knows a lot about pretty much everything I am working with. It has been good to learn from him," Berke said.
In his five years at Ansaldo STS, Reutzel has been promoted twice. He now also serves on the electrical engineering technology program's Industrial Advisory Committee of industry professionals, mostly alumni, who share their knowledge of current practices and offer advice on how to keep the program up-to-date with changing technology.
For Reutzel, it's a way to give back to Point Park, where he transferred after two years at a community college.
"I chose Point Park because of the smaller class size and because they offered me scholarships. Also, they had a transfer agreement that ensured that all the course work I took at community college would apply to my degree," said Reutzel. "I really loved Point Park. The hands-on training I got was very impressive."