Podcast: Platform Chats


Come “roll with AREMA” as we chat with Members from every aspect of the Association.  Each episode will contain entertaining and informative stories from our members about their time in the association and how it has advanced their careers.   


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Walt Bleser, PE currently serves as President of ARE Corporation and remains Principal of Unabridged Structures, LLC.  Prior to this role he was the President of SENSR Monitoring Technologies, LLC. He has over twenty years in the North American railway vertical working with every Class I railroad, major commuter railroad and several transit agencies. Named a Progressive Railroading Rising Stars Top 20 under 40 in 2013 and again an honorable mention by Railway Age for Top 20 under 40 in 2019. He has done everything from design and inspection of structures to implementing technology that makes railroads more efficient through the use of structural health monitoring systems and cloud based bridge asset management programs.  Walt is an active participant in AREMA, currently serving as a Director, Structures Functional Group on the Board of Directors.  He is the previous Chair of Committee 7, Timber Structures, and a subcommittee chairman of Committee 10, Structures Maintenance & Construction, aiding in the production of the organization’s Bridge Management Best Practices.


Episode 1 - Ed Sparks, PE
AREMA Past President - 2020-2021
Assistant Chief Engineer of Structures
CSX Transportation

Host Walt Bleser, PE discusses the history of AREMA with Past President Ed Sparks, PE and how the Association helps with a career in the railroad industry.
Episode 2 - Erika Bruhnke
Vice President, Training Services

Erika Bruhnke joined AREMA within the last five years and has quickly become a vital and engaged member. She is active on a Technical Committee and is working hard to give back to the industry. On this episode, she discusses her unique career path into the railway industry and how getting involved in AREMA helped her grow her network and continue her education.

Episode 3 – Steve Hill, PE
XRDS Consulting

Steve Hill has over 50 years of experience in the rail industry in track and bridge engineering and construction. With a career that has taken him all over the globe, Steve reflects on his experiences with AREMA, the lessons he's learned, and the future of the industry.

Episode 4 -

Kari Harris

Manager, Environmental Impact

Leo Thorbecke
Vice President
TRC Companies

On this episode, Bleser sits down with Kari Harris, Manager, Environmental Impact, CN and Leo Thorbecke, Vice President, TRC Companies, leaders of Committee 13 - Environmental. They discuss Committee 13's role at AREMA, the challenges and opportunities found in a small committee, and how they're looking to help expand the rail industry. Environmental is more than just permits. Find out why on this episode.

Episode 5 - Gio DiDomenico, PE, P. Eng
Track Engineer
Kiewit Engineering Group, Inc.

On this episode of the podcast, Host Walt Bleser sits down with Gio DiDomenico, Track Engineer, Kiewit. They discuss Gio’s path from AREMA Student Chapter member to Young Professional supporter for AREMA. Along the way they debate the benefits of Colorado living and the importance of engaging young railway professionals early in their career. It’s a lively episode you won’t want to miss.

Episode 6 - 

Mike Weber
Signal Engineer
Modern Railway Systems

Jerry Specht
Director of Signal Engineering
BNSF Railway

Join our host Walt Bleser as he sits down with Mike Weber, Signal Engineer at Modern Railway Systems, and Jerry Specht, Director of Signal Engineering at BNSF Railway.  The three discuss AREMA’s newest Committee 35 – Information Technology.  They take a dive into the future of AREMA, new technology in the industry, and the goals of Committee 35.  You won’t want to miss this episode.

Episode 7 - Vic Babin
AREMA President - 2020-2021
Chief Engineering Officer (Ret)
NICTD South Shore Line

This episode, Walt sits down with AREMA President Vic Babin as they talk a little about the past and a lot about the promising future of the rail industry. Along the way they’ll touch on the upcoming AREMA 2021 Virtual Conference, the silver tsunami, and Super Mario Brothers.

Episode 8 -

Josh Giegel

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Virgin Hyperloop

Sarah Quick
Director Regulatory Affairs
Virgin Hyperloop

The wait is over. On this episode, host Walt Bleser talks with Josh Giegel, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, and Sarah Quick, Director of Regulatory Affairs, both of Virgin Hyperloop, about the exciting future of hyperloop and the role AREMA could play in that future. Along the way, they’ll discuss the importance of safety and safety regulations in the development of hyperloop, the importance of sharing knowledge in the rail industry, and the similarities and differences between hyperloop and the railroad. Leave your thoughts of pneumatic bank tubes behind, this is a discussion of an innovative option for a safe, sustainable future in passenger transportation.  This is the opportunity for seamless movement at super high speeds and yes, there will be bathrooms.

Episode 9 - 

Trent Hudak, PE

Director Engineering Services
BNSF Railway

Stacy Spaulding, CAE
Senior Director, Executive and Board Operations

Have you ever wondered what it takes to present your project or idea at the AREMA Annual Conference? On this episode, host Walt Bleser sits down with two experts on the topic: Program Committee Chair and AREMA Senior Vice President, Trent Hudak, PE, Director Engineering Services, BNSF Railway, and Program Committee Staff Liaison Stacy Spaulding, CAE, Senior Director, Executive and Board Operations for AREMA. The trio discusses what the Program Committee looks for in papers such as new technologies and groundbreaking solutions to old problems. They also consider what it takes to present during the General Session and the importance of inclusivity and the diversity of ideas.  If you want to know how best to position your paper for success, you won’t want to miss this episode.  The Call for Papers deadline for the AREMA 2022 Annual Conference & Expo is December 10, 2021.

Episode 10 - Brian Lindamood, PE, SE
Vice President, Chief Engineer
Alaska Railroad

This episode, host Walt Bleser, PE, talks with Brian Lindamood, PE, SE, Vice President, Chief Engineer of Alaska Railroad.  A Past AREMA President and Committee Chair, Brian offers his unique perspective on the subject of winterization and what a railroad needs to do year-round to prepare.  Who best to discuss winterization with than a resident of Alaska? Permafrost, avalanches, lasers, and fewer snowblowers than you might think, this is an episode for those who love the ins and outs of engineering.

Season 2, Episode 1

Ashley Pate

AVP Business Development Manager

Ruth Brown, PE
Chief Engineer Bridges & Structures
Norfolk Southern Railway

Think you need years of experience to join a committee or that you must be an engineer? Then this episode is for you. Host Walt Bleser sits down with Committee 24 Chair Ashley Pate, AVP Business Development Manager, TranSystems and Committee 15 Vice Chair Ruth Brown, PE, Chief Engineer Bridges & Structures, Norfolk Southern Railway, two committee members and leaders, to debunk some of the myths surrounding Committee membership.  They each took a different path to AREMA and committee membership, but they have made the most of it and are happy to share their experiences. Don’t dwell on your fear of the unknown. If you try only one new thing this year, make it an AREMA committee. 

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