How to Change the World One Block at a Time

Timelapse image of a stoplight at an intersection. Light trails lead show where cars have been.

Imagine planning the street layout for an entire downtown in a big city. Or, redesigning the layout of a dangerous intersection to make it less prone to accidents. How about planning and building safe roads in a developing country?

Do any of these things sound interesting? If so, check out what a career in either transportation planning or transportation engineering has to offer.

Wayne Kittelson, Founder of Kittelson & Associates, Inc., explained to Fast Forward that one of the best parts about careers in transportation engineering or planning is that they let you work on amazing projects that can change the world around you.

“When we re-time a traffic signal, or add a left turn lane at an intersection, or change the circulation pattern in a downtown, we also drive on those roads,” Kittelson said. “We experience the effects personally of what we have done and what we have changed, and we can see it changing the lives of people.”

Kittelson said that career paths in transportation engineering and planning can take you to places around the globe. Imagine planning and building safe roads and highways in developing countries.

“We have the opportunity to work in third-world countries,” he said. “We can maybe offer insights, and change fundamental elements of quality of life and safety characteristics that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. And we can learn from them at the same time.”

Screenshot image of Wayne Kittelson from our video.

Click a button to watch an interview with Wayne Kittelson:

Kittelson tells Fast Forward readers that now is a particularly exciting time to pursue a career in transportation. Technology, like autonomous and electric vehicles, is changing the way people can travel. It's also giving us the opportunity to reduce our impact on the environment; for example, by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to eliminate global warming.

“The students that are coming into this field of transportation today will be entering into a whole new era,” he said. “It’s an exciting time when you’re actually helping to define and create the world as it changes, as it transforms.”

Kittelson continued,“Five or 10 years from now [students are] going to be in an ideal position to enter into a field that has no limits to what they can do and the paths that they can take.”

Kittelson explained that students who want to get involved in transportation can start preparing for the field early. For example, they can make sure to take a variety of classes. English, cultural studies, history, and other courses are just as important, he said, as math and science. These will help students to broaden their perspectives and, importantly, teach them to communicate their ideas effectively.

“To be effective as a transportation engineer, get engaged in classes that deal with communication. Writing, speaking, modern problems, things that are part of everyday life. Because that’s what transportation is,” he said.

To learn more about transportation engineering and planning, head to the web. And be sure to keep following Fast Forward for more news and information on awesome careers in transportation!

Aaron Mack
Fast Forward: Volume 3 Number 1 - National Transportation Week