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Transportation Engineer

Create plans for safe and cost-effective transportation projects.

What does a Transportation Engineer do?

There are dozens of fields that fall into the category of transportation, including all facets of trains, buses, ships, airplanes, subways, or cars. A transportation engineer researches, designs, implements, and maintains the roads, ports, airports, and bus systems that the rest of us rely on.

The first step with each project for a transportation engineer is to predict the amount of use it will receive. If you’re designing a new high-speed commuter train, for example, you need to know how many people will ride it, how many trips a day or week are needed, and to which destinations those people are traveling. Surveys, research, current use reports, and growth predictions help you determine these answers.

Once you’ve carefully evaluated demand, you consider materials, budgets, timelines, and space constraints. In addition, you need to understand land-use laws, state and federal statutes, and traffic flow patterns. You need to know how many people will travel to the bus station and airport on the busiest travel day of the year and plan accordingly.

Within this industry, you may specialize in one area such as structural support for bridges or ways to relieve congestion on crowded freeways. Perhaps you design new ports for ships or create railway systems that connect to shipping ports. Whatever area you work in, your goal is to plan for the future, reduce costs to the public, and provide safe, convenient travel options for the community.