• Employee Stories: Meet Shahab

    Many students attending school along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor have seen the Acela - but did you know Amtrak has been working for several years to upgrade this high-speed service? New Acela trainsets are due to enter service in 2021, and many Amtrak employees are working hard on this project, which includes one of Amtrak's co-ops, Shahab Makda.

  • Employee Stories: Meet Shahab

    Many students attending school along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor have seen the Acela - but did you know Amtrak has been working for several years to upgrade this high-speed service? New Acela trainsets are due to enter service in 2021, and many Amtrak employees are working hard on this project, which includes one of Amtrak's co-ops, Shahab Makda.

Employee Stories: Shahab Makda

Many students attending school along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor have seen the Acela - but did you know Amtrak has been working for several years to upgrade this high-speed service? New Acela trainsets are due to enter service in 2021, and many Amtrak employees are working hard on this project, which includes one of Amtrak's co-ops, Shahab Makda.

 

Almost twenty years ago Amtrak's premiere train, the Acela, began revenue service on the Northeast Corridor, operating through Boston to Washington, DC. In 2013, Amtrak began the planning process for procuring the Acela fleet with 28 brand new high-speed trainsets. The new trainsets are being built with several touchless and self-serve features, including more spacious, accessibility-compliant lavatories and can accommodate up to 386 passengers, an increase of 25 percent. Many Amtrak employees across a wide array of departments are dedicated to making the new Acela trainsets and service deployment as successful as possible, and in 2020 one university student had the opportunity to contribute to the project.

Unlike an internship, where a university student works at a company concurrently with school, co-ops take time off from their classes to work full time and gain real world practical knowledge to help jump start their future careers. Shahab Makda, a master’s student in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, recently completed a co-op with Amtrak, working on the Acela project. Makda was already familiar with Amtrak due to traveling the rails several times, but it was this project which attracted Makda to apply for a co-op opportunity. Makda preferred a co-op over an internship as a co-op would allow him to become immersed in the project, make connections and learn from co-workers for a longer period of time

 

"With a co-op, you get to work on a project for a longer duration. This gives you enough time to form real connections with your co-workers and develop a sense of attachment to your team’s goals."


 


Interns and co-ops at Amtrak are assigned to work on, and are able to contribute to, real projects that effect the business. As part of the Acela project, Makda's duties included supporting the team responsible for managing the training of Amtrak personnel to meet the new service standards and handle the upgraded equipment. He also had the unique opportunity to tour the Acela mock-ups; a 3D rendering of the new trainset.

 

"One thing I loved was the way interns/co-ops are treated at Amtrak. I was given real responsibilities and my manager believed in me to deliver upon them. This translated to me feeling like a valued member of the team and drove me to do my best every day. Working for Amtrak gave me a sense of pride. I felt a sense of accomplishment every time our project hit a milestone."


 


For any college students interested in applying for an internship or co-op at Amtrak, Makda advises that you should always feel comfortable and not hesitate to ask questions.

 

"Amtrak is one of the places where asking questions is encouraged and sometimes even appreciated. One of the best compliments I have received at Amtrak was for asking good questions. But that does not mean that you annoy your co-workers every time a question pops up in your head. I suggest making a list and setting up a meeting. I am sure that your teammates and your manager will appreciate it."


 

 

Shahab Makda will be graduating from Virginia Tech at the end of the 2020 Fall semester, intends to start a career in Agile project management, and plans to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

 

"My co-op at Amtrak has given me a glimpse into the world of project management and real-life experience working for a large corporation. I believe that these two coupled with the myriad of lessons I have learned at Amtrak will aid me in succeeding in my personal as well as professional goals."