Careers in Engineering - A Guide to Transport Engineering
Published: 30 Apr 2014
Transport engineers are responsible for the structures which help our country and the wider world run smoothly. Working in both the public and private sectors, transport engineers oversee the construction of roads and highways, canals, railways, bridges, ports and airports. Beyond the physical construction of transportation structures and facilities, transport engineers are also involved in their design, planning, operation and management.
All jobs in transport engineering are demanding but the specific challenges of the role vary across different fields. If you are thinking about a career in transport engineering, take the time to familiarize yourself with the demands of the job - and decide which area of the industry may be right for you.
Specializing in the design and construction of roads and bridges and tunnels, highway engineers are crucial to the infrastructure of a country. Since highway construction operations can take years and affect a significant portion of the population, engineers must devote extensive time to the research and planning of their work. With this in mind, transport planning jobs and site engineer jobs are an important part of any efficient highway construction operation - and involve co-ordination with local and national government bodies and the management of vast amounts of resources. Highway engineers may work on roads between or within urban environments.
The design, building and maintenance of railways takes in a wide range of disciplines including civil, mechanical, electrical and industrial engineering. The construction of a rail route is a huge undertaking which carries significant political and commercial consequences - and places engineers in positions of great responsibility. Engineers may find themselves working on inner-city, cross-country or even international routes, and dealing with strict budget, legal and environmental concerns at every level of the project. Safety regulations are always part of rail construction and maintenance - and engineers must be capable of delivering a high standard of work within strict guidelines.
Port and Harbour Engineering
Ports and harbours, both on rivers and on the coast, are vital to a country's trade and travel infrastructure. Port and harbour engineering includes the building of wharfs, docks, piers and marinas, along with other structures like sea-walls or lochs. Safety and durability are major concerns in any type of port or harbour structure and transport engineers need to be aware of environmental factors, like the volume of traffic their project will handle, the tidal and river currents of the water in which they are building and the types of weather their project will have to withstand.
Airports must be built to facilitate large numbers of aircraft arriving and departing throughout the year, along with the passengers they carry. As with other transport engineering projects, airport engineering work involves meticulous planning and co-ordination with other engineering sectors - such as highway and rail links, to ensure alternative transportation routes connect effectively. The stages and areas of airport planning are diverse - the construction of runways is just as important as the building of support infrastructure and the accommodation of waiting passengers. In a modern construction landscape, environmental and social challenges, such as pollution and noise, are also significant concerns.