John T. Sharkey, PE—AREMA’s Newest Honorary Member

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Honorary Membership to the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) is exclusive to the most distinguished professionals in the railway/transit industry, with only 65 confirmed members.

Only 1 new member can be added per year—the newest member was added at the 2019 AREMA International Conference this past September.

CTC, Inc. is deeply honored to announce that John T. Sharkey, PE, our Vice President, Signal Systems, has been accepted into the organization’s esteemed ranks.

AREMA—A Brief History

AREMA recommends practices for the design, construction, and maintenance of railway infrastructure.

Established on October 1, 1997, AREMA is the amalgamation of 3 engineering support associations, each with 100+ years of dedicated service to the rail industry:

  • The American Railway Bridge and Building Association
  • The Roadmasters and Maintenance of Way Association
  • The Communications and Signal Division of the Association of American Railroads

The AREMA mission statement makes clear the organization’s dedication to “the development and advancement of both technical and practical knowledge and recommended practices pertaining to the design, construction and maintenance of railway infrastructure.”

The Significance of Being a AREMA Honorary Member

AREMA’s long-time dedication to advancing our industry makes membership in its respected ranks a particularly high honor.

AREMA honorary members are individuals who have achieved prominence in railway/transit engineering or management, and who are of high ethical and professional standards. They have made substantial contributions to the profession and the association. 

It’s worth noting that professionals who are nominated for honorary member status must meet specific eligibility requirements and must be confirmed by a selection committee.

Recognition of John Sharkey’s Industry Excellence

This award shines a well-deserved spotlight on John’s 47 years of dedicated service to our industry as a whole. He has worked as a railroader, a supplier, and a transportation consultant, earning increased levels of responsibility and recognition throughout his career.

He served as the Chair of AREMA Committee 36—Grade Crossing Warning Systems for more than 21 years. 

John has earned a reputation of excellence for mentoring and unselfish support of other industry professionals, passing on insight and knowledge to anyone, regardless of status or position. 

John is active in several other professional organizations, as well.

The staggering number of endorsement letters supporting John’s nomination for Honorary Member affirms his well-earned reputation for service and excellence. 

The Fortuitous Beginnings of an Esteemed Career

John’s entry into rail systems engineering makes for an entertaining story.

Set to graduate from the University of Illinois in 1972, two daunting obstacles stood between him and employment. 

First, the job market nationwide was extremely tight at the time. Graduating engineering hopefuls lined up at 2:30 AM in order to queue for the very limited job interview slots that were presented for sign up at 7:30 AM. 

Second, the Vietnam Conflict was raging full force, and John’s draft number was 61. 

However, fortune smiled on John. He found a clipboard with 18 interview openings for the following morning with the Illinois Central RR, and, for whatever reason, they didn’t ask about his draft status at the interview. He was hired as a Junior Engineer-Signals in September 1972.

A month later, he received the inevitable letter from the President that welcomed him to the nation’s Armed Forces. John opted to join the USNR Seabees and departed for 6 months of active duty.

Upon his return—his office had heavily wagered that he wouldn’t make it back at all—John poured himself into his work.

“From then on, I was fortunate to be involved with every new signal product, every new system, and every major project for the length of my career,” he says about the years following his military service.

Needless to say, John has made the most of the opportunity put before him that fateful morning at the University of Illinois. His contributions have greatly increased safety, one crossing at a time.

Your coworkers at CTC Inc. congratulate you, John. We’ll never bet against you.

Learn More About CTC’s Dedicated Team 

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