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U. of I. graduate interested in high-speed rail named Luce Scholar

2/26/2013 | Ryan Tomasiewicz, acting director, National and International Scholarships Program | 217-333-4710;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois graduate student Samantha Chadwick is among 18 young scholars nationwide to be named a Luce Scholar for 2013-2014.

The program, an initiative of the Henry Luce Foundation, provides full stipends and internships for recipients to live and work in Asia. The purpose of the program, which began in 1974, is to increase Asian awareness among future leaders in American society. Luce candidates are nominated from 75 colleges and universities. Nominations are based on a candidate’s record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability, and a clearly defined career interest with evidence of potential for professional accomplishment. Applicants must not have had significant prior experience in Asia.

Chadwick earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Illinois in December 2010. She is conducting her master’s thesis research in the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center in civil engineering and will complete her degree in May.

Originally from Shrewsbury, Mass., Chadwick expressed interest in high-speed rail while living in France when she was 5 years old.  In her junior year of college, Chadwick went back to France to study at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie, in Nancy. During her experiences there, she noticed the benefits of high-speed rail. Upon returning to the U. of I., Chadwick became determined to pursue high-speed rail projects for Illinois. She became involved in the university’s American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association. Working with this professional organization, she participated in outreach activities designed to educate students about possible careers in railway engineering, and mentored engineering students through their curriculum. This effort reached students at four different universities, and increased awareness of the benefits of high-speed rail.

In 2011, Chadwick began her graduate work at the U. of I. She has presented her research at conferences and worked with leading companies in the field of freight rail engineering. Her research focuses on safety issues related to freight and passenger safety trains with a particular focus on highway rail collision crossings. She is developing algorithms that can predict the chance and severity of crossing collisions.

With a Luce Scholarship, Chadwick hopes to be placed in a nation where high-speed rail is central to commerce and culture. On returning to Illinois after the completion of her work abroad, she wants to “lead the charge towards high speed rail” and further unlock transportation developments in commuter rail and subway networks.

“Sam was an ideal candidate for the Luce Scholars program,” said Ryan Tomasiewicz, the acting director of the U. of I. National and International Scholarships Program. “When you combine her academic drive and her passion for rail, you have no doubt in your mind that Sam will follow her dream to create high speed rail in Illinois.”

The scholarships program is recruiting applicants for the 2014-2015 Luce Scholars program. Students from all academic disciplines who are interested in studying in Asia are encouraged to contact the scholarships office, 217-333-4710.

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