What is Transportation Engineering?
Transportation engineering involves the application of principles from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to address the challenges associated with planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating transportation infrastructure systems.
Transportation planning requires to understand and model travel behavior in order to forecast trips, assess the necessity of new infrastructures, and propose investment programs and transportation policies to mitigate future congestion and other issues. An example of transportation planning includes studying the necessity of a new highway in a specific region based on population growth, plans for new settlements, and forecasted congestion.
After planning for new infrastructures, transportation designs are required to guide the implementation of specific facilities. They involve the determination of important attributes associated with transportation infrastructures (size, location, geometry, and capacity, among others). An example of transportation design for a new highway includes definition of its specific location, number of lanes, dimensions, curvature, traffic capacity, vertical alignment, pavement thickness, among other features. Transportation designs are key to guide the construction of a transportation facilities.
Construction and maintenance combines knowledge from other areas in civil engineering in order to implement and preserve the designed facilities. An example of transportation construction includes the cost estimation, definition of supplies, and scheduling of activities required to build a specific highway design. An example of maintenance, which is related to the concept of asset management, includes the development of repaving plans based on pre-defined performance metric (traffic intensity, environmental conditions, and infrastructure deterioration, among others).
Transportation operations and management involve the development of traffic engineering solutions (subarea of transportation engineering) to guarantee the smooth movement of traveling entities on the transportation network. Examples of transportation operations and management include the development of signs, signals, marking, movements, tolls, intelligent transportation systems, and other solutions that facilitate the movement of vehicles on a roadway system.
Transportation engineers aim for solutions that are safe, efficient, comfortable, economical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Transportation is an important and interdisciplinary area of civil engineering composed by multiple subareas including, but not limited to: traffic, human factors, geometric design, pavements, transit, freight, unimodal and intermodal transportation, policies, intelligent transportation systems, modeling and simulation, among others.
Our Approach to Transportation Engineering
The Department of Civil Engineering and construction Management at Florida Tech offers multiple courses and extracurricular activities for students interested in transportation engineering.
Transportation Engineering (CVE 4060) is the main course offered for future transportation engineers. CVE 4060 focuses on the most important transportation subsystem: highways. Through intuitive lectures and applied examples, student learn concepts and tools associated with roadway-vehicle performance, geometric design of highways, pavement design, fundamentals of traffic flow and queuing theory, highway capacity and level-of-service analysis, traffic control and analysis of signalized intersections, and travel demand and traffic forecasting for transportation planning. Other undergraduate courses provide the key knowledge required to develop transportation solutions.
The course Computer Applications Lab -or CAD Lab- (CVE1001) offers the foundation and background necessary to develop computer-aided transportation designs with a guided environment and hands on experience in AutoCAD, a leading software for civil engineering and transportation design.
The course Construction Measurements (CVE 2080) provides analytical tools to collect, analyze, and interpret geospatial data with firsthand experience on land surveying to measure the three-dimensional space related to the earth’s surface. Knowledge on Construction Measurements is key for transportation engineers to properly locate, design, and construct transportation infrastructures.
The senior design project (CVE 4091 and CVE 4092) offers an opportunity for students interested in transportation to develop a real-world solution, which is peer-reviewed, and requires collaborations with students from the other areas in civil engineering.
Advanced students can register for graduate level courses on transportation as restrictive and design electives. Examples of such advanced courses include CVE 5060 Pavement Design, CVE 5062 Statistical and Econometric Methods for Transportation Data Analysis, and CVE 5064 Transportation Planning.
Finally, the group for Transportation Research and Interdisciplinary Studies (TREX) offers the opportunity for prospect transportation engineers to be involved in transportation research, have experience on the multiple subareas associated with transportation engineering, and learn more about transportation opportunities at the graduate level.