30 Under 30 San Diego County Leader No. 2: Daniel Arnold

Daniel Arnold and a railroad volunteer that helped him with his project.

If experience is one of the factors to success, consider Daniel Arnold a winner.

Arnold, 14, has volunteered at the Poway Midland Railroad since he was five years old. He began by punching tickets and playing the “assistant conductor.” Now, he’s a firemen on the steam locomotive—a role he considers “more of a mature role on the railroad.”

But that isn’t all.

Arnold’s interest in trains recently led the high school freshman to become one of the 15 finalists in the Google International Science Fair this summer. His track design that would reduce the number of switch-related derailments competed among 7,500 other projects.

“The project probably took around 100 hours to complete from start to finish, and many of those were spent trying to come up with new ideas after previous ones had proved impractical,” he said. “My future goals include entering a new science fair project this year, and continuing to research ways to improve rail travel. This is becoming more and more important as we move to find more environmentally [friendly] methods of transportation.”

Arnold credits his accomplishments to his parents.

“My parents encouraged me throughout the project and made sure I did it well and finished it,” he said. “They would never take ‘no’ or ‘I give up’ as an answer, especially after my first prototype kept breaking.

Advice for young people:

“Get into a field that you are really interested in. If you are really interested in what you are doing and enjoy it, you will find it much easier to succeed. Also, surround yourself with people that you know are going to support you and want you to succeed. It is much harder to be successful if you don’t have friends and family who are constantly pushing you to achieve your full potential.”