Feb 11, 2011

NY -> DC -> NY

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in DC this week to attend a Project Status Meeting. As I've mentioned before, my company is building new subway cars for the DC Metro. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has placed a base order of 428 new Kawasaki cars (7000 Series). It's pretty exciting to be a part of it, even though we are still in the conceptual design phase of the project. The cars are going to be pretty high-tech and very efficient. Some of the cooler features are things like complete LED lighting. No more halogen bulbs. Vehicle Track Dynamic Monitoring Systems (VTDMS) which will actually monitor the track for out of tolerance conditions and automatically place a cell phone call to WMATA to inform them of the nonconformance. There's also a camera system on these cars as well. Each car will have 5 interior cameras; one in each corner and one in the middle as well as exterior cameras so that the train operator can see what's going on in the cars as well as at the station platforms. The Train Operator Display (TOD) in the cab also displays the cars within the consist on a monitor and indicates any issues in real time: "Door 3L on car 5617 stuck open" for example.

Above: Union Station, Washington, DC on 2/10/1011 @ 11:55am
What does this mean for me? I'll be busy for the next few years. As the Quality Assurance Engineer I am responsible for generating and submitting quality procedures and plans for all aspects of the project from procurement to inspection & test. Additionally I'll have to perform classification audits of Kawasaki's subsuppliers which are located largely in the US (it's a "buy-American" project). The travel is fine with me, I love it, but each day I'm away from my desk means more work when I return.

I didn't get to explore too much on this trip. I got into my hotel around 6:00 on Wednesday night and worked for a couple of hours before going out for dinner. Though I lugged my climbing gear down to DC with me, I never got a chance to slip away to the indoor climbing gym in Alexandria, VA like I had hoped. The meeting on Thursday morning went quickly and I found myself on an Amtrak back to NY at 1:05pm. Maybe next time. But today is Friday and that means I'll be headed to Brooklyn to climb tonight. My mission: conquer the 5.10a route that laughed in my face last week!

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