Rail Innovation in Action

Presented by the California State Railroad Museum & the Lemelson-MIT Program

Calling all high school students:
Start creating solutions for the future of railroads


Railroading doesn’t just have a past—it has a present, and a bright future. This future depends on the people who join its ranks and what problem-solving skills they bring to the party. People just like you!

▪ Online interactive program
▪ Six-week course on Saturdays
▪ 11:00am - 2:00pm PDT / 2:00pm - 5:00pm EDT
▪ September 28 to November 2, 2024
▪ Open for 9th-12th grade students
▪ For students of all interests and backgrounds
▪ Free for participants!

This program is a joint effort between the California State Railroad Museum and the Lemelson-MIT Program (LMIT), and is financially supported by the California State Railroad Museum Foundation.

Apply Now!


Motive power is the subject of focus for the 2024 pilot year of Rail Innovation in Action.

This online program will identify real-world issues related to powering trains which affect the current and future railroad industry.

Topics include the current layout of the US railway system, improvements to diesel electric locomotives, electrification and high-speed rail, and alternative fuels.

Guest speakers include those from California High-Speed Rail Authority and Siemens Mobility! More details and confirmed speakers to come.

How to Apply

Students who will be in 9th-12th grade for the 2024-25 school year are welcome to apply for California State Railroad Museum & Lemelson-MIT’s "Rail Innovation in Action" program.

Prior knowledge of or interest in railroading is not required to participate in this program. Students should expect to spend 1-2 hours per week on this program, in addition to the online session times.

The online program is offered at no cost. Priority may be given to students from low-income households and groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields.

Applications are currently open! Applications will close at 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT on August 25, 2024 (deadline was extended).

Students will be notified on August 30, 2024 if they are accepted into the program.

Apply Now!

More about Rail Innovation in Action

This unique opportunity offers an exploration into cutting-edge innovations in railway transportation. Students will be honing research and invention development skills transferrable to higher academia and future endeavors.

Guest experts in the modern rail industry will talk about some of the challenges facing railroading, and additional program content includes lab simulations, virtual tours, group exercises, Q&A sessions, and watercooler career talks with railway professionals. Rail Innovation in Action aims to build intergenerational networks of experts who inform, coach and mentor young learners while they prototype their own inventions.

At the end of the six-week course, students will have an opportunity to present their own solutions to real-world issues affecting the current and future railroad industry.

Students can recruit a high school teacher and other team members and apply with their projects to the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams national grants initiative.

Apply Now!

More about LMIT

The Lemelson-MIT Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a national leader in advancing invention education. They inspire young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Their work focuses on the expansion of opportunities for young people to learn ways inventors find and solve problems that matter.

LMIT is devoted to bringing invention education opportunities to all students, while prioritizing work with young women and Black, indigenous populations, Latinx and other people of color. Their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion aims to remedy historic inequities among those who develop inventions, protect their intellectual property and commercialize their creations.

LMIT also helps educators and partners create invention education opportunities in their communities that begin in the early years and continue through college.

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Learn More About LMIT

We want people to discover challenges they can help solve if they choose to pursue a college or career path related to the transportation sector.

Stephanie Couch Executive Director of Lemelson-MIT