February 23, 2018
MEET THE APTA STAFF
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Meet Nathan Leventon!

Nathan Leventon
Program Manager-Technical Services
Member Services Department

What are your primary responsibilities at APTA?

I work on the Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards Program (PRESS).

APTA is in the midst of a complete overhaul of PRESS documents and we hope to complete the updates by the end of 2019. This will involve the formal review and approval of 70+ existing standards and recommended practices. Seven of the standards are currently cited in the code of federal regulations. This is unique among the APTA standards programs and essentially makes the cited documents legally enforceable. 

I also provide back-end support for technical topics; I find the information that my APTA colleagues in technical services need but do not have the time to research. Someone needs detailed technical analysis of PTC implementation; has a tunnel boring machine ever caused an explosion (they have, on multiple occasions)—these are just a few examples of the questions I find answers to on a regular basis. I also co-advise two technical forums: Rolling Stock Equipment and Track & Noise/Vibration.

What initiatives or programs have you worked on at APTA of which you are particularly proud?


When I arrived at APTA, PRESS had been largely inactive for the better part of 15 years. Reinvigorating the program has been a challenge. Some of the requirements in the documents date back to the 1930s.

As staff advisor to the PRESS working groups, my job is equal parts engineer, secretary and text-based industrial archeologist. Every sentence has a story behind it. The older the text, the harder it is to find that story. It is truly astonishing to watch how a single phrase can grow into an entire document over the years.

To what extent do you have direct contact with APTA members?


I deal with members on a daily basis. My first ever job was working in a grocery store. Our goal was to strive for quality customer service on every interaction. In my job at APTA, I endeavor to continue to serve by those principles.

Tight response times and follow-up on queries are key. My goal is to never leave the office until my inbox is free of unanswered and unread emails. Even if I don’t yet have the answers they need, I can at least let them know that I am looking into it.

Standards is somewhat unique when compared to other areas of APTA in that we interact with both members and non-members on equal footing as a matter of industry consensus.

How did you come to be at APTA?


I have degrees in both civil engineering (MS from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and mechanical engineering (BS from Alfred University). While I earned my bachelor’s degree, I was involved heavily in student government. This was almost entirely background work, budgeting and allocations as well as governing documentation. While earning my master’s degree, I focused on the rail industry.

Working at APTA seemed like the next logical step in my career path as it allowed for utilization of my academic skills and an opportunity for continuous self-improvement, all while serving a variety of constituents in many different ways. Every day promises a different challenge.

Do you have any ­professional or other affiliations?

I am an inductee of Tau Beta Pi, the National ­Engineering Honor Society. I served as the ­treasurer for my inducting chapter for two years.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?


In school, my least favorite subject was English, especially writing. It was not a question of technical competency, but rather a matter of physical limitations. My handwriting was and still is atrocious! Now, writing (the keyboard variety), be it technical or recreational, is one of my favorite things to do.
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