Transportation Engineering

Transportation Engineering

Nikiforos Stamatiadis

Raymond-Blythe Professor of Civil Engineering,
University of Kentucky, Lexington

2020–2021 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to Greece.  Host; University of Thessaly, Volos, Department of Civil Engineering

Transportation engineering is the aspect of civil engineering dealing with the planning, design, operation, and management of the transportation infrastructure. Transportation engineers provide facilities that allow the movement of persons and goods in a safe, rapid, convenient, economical, and environmentally sound way. The movement of people and goods for financial, social, or other reasons between centers of activities (cities, suburbs, ports, warehouses, etc) is accomplished with a variety of modes. Therefore, a transportation engineer should not only be capable of designing a transportation system that could accommodate a specific mode, but also understand and possibly predict the financial and social ramifications of the system. This aspect of transportation underscores the difficulty of transportation engineering as well as its links with other fields of engineering and science. In fact, transportation engineering is considered a multi-disciplinary area of study, and it draws on concepts from a variety of scientific areas: engineering, social sciences, economics, mathematics, and physics.

Transportation engineers are educated as civil engineers, and they typically specialize as such by concentrating their studies in courses focusing on highway design, traffic operations, highway safety, railroad design, airport operations and design, transportation planning, and other such courses, depending on the program offered. Postgraduate students typically specialize in one of these areas and become more familiar with one or more of these areas, gaining a deeper understanding of the topic.

Transportation engineering is a diverse career field, and typical employers include government agencies, consultant firms, airlines, railroads, trucking companies, etc. A sample of responsibilities include estimating the traffic impacts of new developments; designing highways and improvement projects; studying safety trends and identifying areas of safety improvements; developing solutions to transportation problems for efficient movement of vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists; and making policy recommendations.

 Photo Credit: Andy Li for Unsplash