Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Engineering classes for transportation planning?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Saint Louis, MO
    Posts
    4

    Engineering classes for transportation planning?

    I am a current masters in urban planning student, and I'm planning on a concentration in transportation planning.

    My program allows planners to take classes in the engineering school which offers classes geared toward statistical modeling rather than transportation policy. My question is, what type of technical classes would be the most useful to take? Are there particular modeling programs that are more useful to know than others? Because I'm not a transportation engineer would you recommend just getting a feel for statistical traffic modeling or would you say the more classes the better? I'm in New York City so I am looking to focus on urban transportation issues.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Midwest-ish
    Posts
    218
    I'm going to say the more, the better. In my experience, the transportation sector is very heavy on engineers, so the more understanding you have of engineering, the better. I think that sometimes engineers tend to look at planners as the "fluff" while they handle the nuts and bolts (yes, I know this is a gross overstatement). The more you are able to show that you can understand AND apply the same types of analysis, the better of you will be.
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by transguy View post
    I'm going to say the more, the better. In my experience, the transportation sector is very heavy on engineers, so the more understanding you have of engineering, the better. I think that sometimes engineers tend to look at planners as the "fluff" while they handle the nuts and bolts (yes, I know this is a gross overstatement). The more you are able to show that you can understand AND apply the same types of analysis, the better of you will be.
    I find that civil engineers and PTOEs are generally more in demand than a planner that has taken a few transportation engineering classes. In fact I feel kind of like a charlatan when acting as if I can do the same things that they can. I think the transportation planning degree might be most useful at an MPO or the state or federal government, where you are actually planning, and not designing or modeling, even though those are good things to know. Makes me regret not earning a civil engineering degree when I was an undergrad.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Saint Louis, MO
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for the info. I'm actually interning at the NYC Transit department and I have been doing a lot of statistical analysis of subway line running times. It only has required general statistical knowledge so far, so I wasn't sure what level of knowledge was necessary for other transportation planning positions. I'll make sure to take some more of the traffic modeling class at the Engineering school then.

  5. #5
    Good luck. I'm planning on doing Master's in Civil Engineering and somehow taking both Transportation Systems Engineering + Urban Planning (Architecture).

    Does anyone know if that's possible?

    Well, anything is possible... lol

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Southeast
    Posts
    5
    When I was researching schools to apply to for masters, I was considering dual engineering + planning program. Univ of Texas Austin, Georgia Tech and Ohio State are three schools that I know offer such programs, there may be several others...

  7. #7

    Confused

    I am a Stony Brook University freshman and I aspire to work in the field of transportation analysis and engineering. Given that the Majors available at Stony Brook University at all relevant include Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Technology and Society; which one should I pursue?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Austin
    Posts
    33
    I'm facing this same dilemma.

    On the one hand, I think transportation policies are important--but on the other, so is an in-depth knowledge of modeling flows and analysis that necessarily go along with "transit".

    I agree with transguy: the more, the better.

    I've been considering joint civil engineering/planning degrees, but haven't decided if that's the right path for me. I share your confusion, my friend.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Island-State Republic of Singapore
    Posts
    162
    Quote Originally posted by aspiringplanner View post
    I find that civil engineers and PTOEs are generally more in demand than a planner that has taken a few transportation engineering classes. In fact I feel kind of like a charlatan when acting as if I can do the same things that they can. I think the transportation planning degree might be most useful at an MPO or the state or federal government, where you are actually planning, and not designing or modeling, even though those are good things to know. Makes me regret not earning a civil engineering degree when I was an undergrad.

    I would echo aspiringplanner's comment (and lament!).

    I would further add that what major you choose will be dependent on what you wish to become in future. I would think that it would be easier for a civil/transport engineering grad to be able to enter transport planning, rather than vice versa.

    A transport engineer will learn skills related to the physical construction of transport infrastructure (roads, rail, stations, bus stops, highways, bridges), but gain other analytical skills such as traffic modelling, strategic transport planning as well as other operational matters such as timetabling for buses, etc. A transport planner however is more focussed on the policy aspects of transport, which no doubt is important, but I feel would be well complemented if that person has a good handle on transport-related matters.

    If you want to do the 'technical' aspects of planning (i.e. calculate travel demand, plot travel demand charts, undertake traffic modelling, etc.), you're better off with an engineering degree rather than a planning degree.

    In fact, this is why I'm going back to school for a MSc in Transport Systems, as I want to do the more technical side of transport planning (calculating timetables/headway for buses and trains, route network planning, airport masterplanning, travel demand management and modelling, etc), which was not covered in my undergraduate planning degree. This is to help me enter into the field. Unfortunately I won't be able to undertake physical engineering roles (e.g. design roads, bridges, traffic structures) without my basic degree in engineering.

    Hope this helps.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 6
    Last post: 24 Sep 2012, 6:43 PM
  2. Replies: 10
    Last post: 02 Sep 2010, 6:55 PM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last post: 07 Jan 2010, 3:35 PM
  4. Transportation planning or engineering?
    Transportation Planning
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 02 May 2008, 8:40 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last post: 19 Dec 2005, 3:53 AM