Job Title: Transportation Engineer
Type of Company: Engineering/Architecture/Surveying Consulting Firm
Education: BS, Civil Engineering, University of Connecticut
Previous Experience: I started as an intern in an engineering company and took a full-time job with it after graduating from college. i worked at first as a civil site engineer, became a transportation engineer at the same company and eventually switched companies.
Job Tasks: On typical projects, my tasks are river hydraulics and storm sewer design. When water courses cross below roadways, I determine the river's design flow for a set of storm events (50-year, 100-year, etc.). Utilizing survey information, I use software to build a model of the water course. I then apply the design flow to the model to determine if the existing bridge opening is large enough to pass the design flow. If it is not, I determine the required opening and give the information to bridge engineers to design the abutments and substructure.
I also analyze roadway drainage and design storm sewers. Usually the existing storm network is modeled to determine if the system is over-capacity. The proposed roadway typically makes use of the existing structures, so the proposed design will add additional basins or increase pipe sizes to make the system perform as required.
All projects require written reports describing the existing and proposed conditions. Depending on the project and it impact, reports can be submitted to the town engineering department, state department of transportation, federal agencies (US Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers) and DEP offices.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the actual design process. Using software to develop models is interesting. Plus, you get a lot of satisfaction from seeing a project you worked on, even a small project, get completed.
The worst part of the job is the submission of environmental permits. It's a necessary evil to the designer of river crossings and storm sewers since this is obviously the area of wetland and river impacts. All impacts need to be described, justified and quantified. As the importance of environmental protection keeps rising, gaining the approval of environmental agencies gets more complex.
Job Tips: I recommend switching jobs early in a career to see all sides of the engineering design process, especially from a contractor's viewpoint. With a consultant, there is a lot of design work. With a town or state, there can be a lot of review, so you can see how others present designs and learn from them. With a contractor, you can see how a design makes it from paper to reality. Knowledge of each process makes you a better engineer, regardless of which phase you choose.
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