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Career Story: Civil Engineer And Roadway Designer

Civil Engineer And Roadway Designer

Job Title: Project Manager - Civil Engineer

Type of Company: My company provides transportation design services for developers and state agencies.

Education: BS, Civil Engineering, UMass-Lowell

Previous Experience: After graduation, I worked on the Central Artery Project in Boston, also known as "The Big Dig." I then moved on to highway and railroad design for a Boston-based company.

Job Tasks: I am a civil engineer for a transportation design firm. We analyze traffic for a proposed development and determine what improvements our client needs to make to the roadway to accommodate additional traffic. Most projects require roadway widening and traffic signals.

I design the roadway improvements. My job requires me to be proficient at AutoCadd/ Landdesktop which is a computer design program, that speeds the design of improvement plans. The program is capable of analyzing the existing topography (provided by a surveyor). I use this information to lay out new roadways and to furnish a set of design plans to be reviewed by the applicable state and city agencies. A typical set of plans can include construction plans, striping plans, roadway profiles, roadway cross-sections, and construction details. During the design process there are many factors I have to consider, including how much land we have to widen the road on, the location of neighboring wetlands and site topography.

I am also responsible for providing cost estimates. Every project includes a significant amount of coordination with utility companies, state agencies, city officials, local boards and conservation commissions and, of course, the client. Everything we design must conform to state and federal standards.

On a typical day I will spend about 6 hours on my computer designing roadways. The rest of my time is spent talking to clients about the project and consulting with co-workers about my design.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the satisfaction I derive from seeing my projects built. Our firm also provides construction services. This means I get to be a part of the construction of the project as well as seeing the finished project. I also enjoy solving problems and with every job there are innumerable problems that we have to overcome.

The worst part of the job is waiting for projects to be reviewed by state and city agencies. The process can often be a long one. It is also disheartening when negative comments by the reviewers come in.

Job Tips: Engineering is a very broad field. If you don't like the field you first choose when you're in college, it is easy to switch before your sophomore year.

Work in jobs that you think you are interested in while still in school. That way you can determine if they're the right fit.

Stick with the program. It's tough getting through the first couple of years in school.

Additional Thoughts: Visit an engineering school and investigate its various disciplines. I did and it helped me decide which discipline I wanted to enter. Speak to other engineers and see what they think about their chosen profession.

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