Tom Morris’s Software Engineering Career Path from the Railroad to Railinc

By The Momentum Team ● 03/10/2023

Tom Morris’s Software Engineering Career Path from the Railroad to Railinc

By The Momentum Team ● 03/10/2023

We are pleased to share that Momentum graduate Thomas Morris has recently begun his new role as Associate Software Developer with Railinc! Congratulations to our graduate on his continued success working with the railroad industry as a former General Foreman at Norfolk Southern.

Tom’s Time with Norfolk Southern

As a young man, Tom was looking for a better quality of life, so he moved away from his small hometown of Jacksonville, NC, to attend North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, Tom attended numerous career fairs and searched tirelessly to find a meaningful and sustainable career. It was not until Tom met recruiters from Norfolk Southern that he felt he found his calling, and he started as a Mechanical Supervisor in 2013.

While working for the railroad, Tom was placed at Enola Diesel Shop in Enola, PA, just on the other side of the river from Harrisburg, PA. He was nervous, as it was known at the time that you couldn’t get too comfortable anywhere because the railroad moves you around a lot, especially in the first five years. With this sense of uncertainty, his family kept growing in Raleigh as he made the six-hour commute back and forth each week. He was promoted to General Foreman and therefore responsible for the maintenance and repair of Norfolk Southern’s locomotive fleet.

Over almost a decade, Tom led the safety meetings, delegated jobs to each of the craftsmen, and ensured goals were being met. With such a high velocity and intense role, you had to be aware and up to date on who was doing what and where everyone was, all while coordinating last-minute decisions.

Here’s what Tom had to say about his time with Norfolk Southern:

The railroad runs 24/7, 365 days a year – 366 days on a leap year. There is no downtime. That being said, I worked lots of various shifts with various days off based on needs and seniority. I was very proud to work in the railroad industry. It was interesting and challenging, and I knew that what I was doing contributed to an industry that affected everyone whether they realized it or not.

Time for a Career Change: Leaving the Railroad

At the end of the day, Tom’s work schedule made it hard to spend time with, and sometimes simply talk to, family and friends. The company adopted “precision railroading” and went through a lot of restructuring that eliminated positions and locations that he was hoping to transfer to, tightening his already rough schedule. With the dreadfully long commute and diminishing opportunities for growth, coupled with his daughters growing up with him hardly there and his parents’ health declining, Tom was ready to make a change. He said, “I had missed enough birthdays and holidays, and I needed to be more present for my family.”

Tom had previously taken programming classes and had even considered a degree in Computer Science, so he began exploring coding languages like Python and prepared to jumpstart his career change. While leaving the railroad was difficult for Tom, as he enjoyed what he did and had a lot that he still hoped to accomplish there, he felt it was what he needed to do for his family.

After a lot of thought, Tom spoke with Momentum and knew right away that the program was exactly what he needed, so he committed to the change and left the railroad. After graduating from Momentum, Tom had no idea where he would end up but knew that the Momentum community was there to help when Momentum CEO and Co-Founder Jessica Mitsch-Homes approached him about Railinc.

From the Railroad to Railinc

“The fact that I had left the railroad with lots of work undone coupled with the idea of working for a company that develops software for the railroad was incredible. Speaking with Railinc was terrific. It felt very much like when I first spoke with Norfolk Southern because they appreciated my background and experience,” Tom said.

At the end of the day, Momentum gave Tom the technical know-how while helping match him somewhere where his unique experience mattered. Tom now has the opportunity to further contribute to a great industry while being home and spending time with his family.

“I don’t have to worry about missing any more birthdays or holidays and also have the comfort of knowing I am close by to my parents should they need me,” Tom said.

Tom recently joined the Railinc team full-time at their headquarters in Cary, NC. The Railinc team is thrilled to have someone like Tom join their organization.

Here’s what Railinc’s Chief of Staff, Cathelene Thomas, has to say about Tom:

We are excited to have Tom on the Railinc Team! His rail industry knowledge and the skillset he developed at Momentum allowed him to hit the ground running and make an immediate difference for us. We’re looking forward to partnering with Momentum again in the future.

Momentum Is Here For Full-Circle Moments Like This

Here at Momentum, we want to work with you to help create more full-circle stories like Tom’s. Building your tech talent with our “Source, Train, Hire” model offers a unique approach to curating your team. We will work with your company to source and vet ideal candidates for your needs, which you will then select for training. Through Momentum’s 16-week full stack software engineering program, candidates will graduate and convert to full-time tech roles on your team with the skills needed to succeed.

To learn more about Tom’s incredible journey or how you can find candidates tailor-made for your organization, contact our team today. Or if you’re interested in joining the Railinc team, apply to our program, and learn more about the amazing sponsorship opportunity with Railinc for our April course!

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