SANTA FE — Electronics engineering students from ITT Technical Institute in Webster were invited to the Tyra Ranch to find and repair electrical problems with a massive model train.

The field trip was organized as part of an educational enrichment experience designed to elicit critical thinking and troubleshooting skills from associate- and bachelor-level students.

Retired businessman Richard Tyra is well known for the enormous campaign parties he and his wife, Roberta, host at their Santa Fe ranch.

He is less well known for his passion for model railroading, but all that’s about to change thanks to a recent magazine article in O Gauge Railroading (Oct/Nov. 2013) featuring his 24-foot-by-54-foot model railroad layout.

A short in one of the railroad cars was found to be the reason the train had stopped operating. Meanwhile, Janelle Markovich and Valentin Revuelta-Guardiola were credited with solving the mystery of how to reprogram the master controls despite the instructions being flawed.

“I would still be there trying to figure out how to fix it if they hadn’t come along,” Tyra said.

Tyra hired Brian Inch of Model Rail Scenes in Maine to design and build the massive structure three years ago. It took the two men more than two-and-a-half months, working eight hours a day to complete the project.

The layout features four separate tracks with trains that run simultaneously, mountain terrain with tunnels and waterfalls, personal details including hunting scenes, a Walgreens store in honor of Tyra’s son and a replica of the Hub Lumber Co. where Tyra’s father worked as a young man.

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