What are Engineering, Civil Engineering and Transportation Engineering?

Engineering can generally be considered the application of math and science to solve real-world problems. These “problems” may vary widely in their nature, seriousness, and frequency of occurrence, but they all have to do with the needs or wants of humans. However, in order to exclude fields such as medicine and economics, it is perhaps best to limit the scope of engineering to problems that deal with the physical environment in which humans live and with which they interact. Engineering also implies that some measure of complex scientific knowledge is utilized in the solving of the problem at hand. This excludes, for example, cooking, basic techniques of agriculture or animal domestication, and possibly even simple forms of building, such as the construction of a stone wall. Although the modern concept of engineering began only recently, the field of engineering has existed almost as long as human civilization through the work of architects, inventors, and other similar persons. Most forms of modern engineering can generally be considered part of civil, mechanical, chemical, or electrical engineering.

Civil engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the fundamental, every-day needs of society that allows a civilization to function. Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering due to the important role it plays in helping to keep society functioning. It is referred to as “civil” engineering to differentiate it from military engineering, which does not serve to meet the basic needs of society in the same way in which civil engineering does. Civil engineering, like engineering in general, can be divided into several sub-disciplines, including transportation, structural, geotechnical, hydraulic, and environmental engineering. Other related fields of study include materials science, geophysics, architectural engineering, project management, land development, surveying, and a host of other fields. Civil engineers may be employed by public entities such as municipalities, water and sewage authorities, and zoning offices or by private firms specializing in design, consultation, or construction.

Transportation Engineering is the branch of civil engineering that deals with the movement of people and/or objects from place to place. Sub-disciplines can generally be grouped by the means of transportation, and therefore include fields such as highway engineering, port and harbor engineering, railroad engineering, and airport engineering. Transportation engineers often design large, complex systems that utilize several of these vehicles of movement. For example, a city’s public transportation system may include a combination of subway or tram lines, bus routes, and regional rail services, while the city itself may also be serviced by a road and highway system, ferries, and perhaps even a network of walking and/or bike paths. Transportation engineering is vital to any society because it allows for the movement of people, food, and natural resources, facilitates economic development through the transfer of goods, and provides a means for the exchange of knowledge and culture.

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