Transportation Engineer

Ruby Mak

Transportation Engineer, Traffic Design Group

In a nutshell: Investigating, assessing and designing solutions to transport related issues for land developments and to help make people's journeys better.

Why? "I like helping other people by coming up with an innovative solution that works and fixes the problem."

Pathway: Mahurangi College, Final year subjects: Calculus, Chemistry, Design Technologies (Graphics), English, Physics
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), specialising in Civil Engineering

Earning: $50,000+

I was good at maths and sciences and enjoyed graphic design at school, so I'd narrowed my choices down to architecture and engineering.

I'd thought about leaving school early and doing an architecture diploma but my career advisor talked me out of it and suggested engineering. I'm glad I stayed – it gave me another year with my classmates, it kept my options open and it set me up for university.

As a transportation engineer at Traffic Design Group, I spend part of my time in a team that assesses how new land developments could affect traffic patterns and flows.

Developers really need us to be part of the process so we can minimise traffic disruption when a new building is constructed. Having a road network that functions efficiently and keeps everybody moving makes such a difference to the way a community works.

My role includes supervising traffic surveys – counts of the number of passing cars, cyclists or pedestrians – and analysing the survey results and using specialised computer programs to assess and predict the effects of any changes to the area such as new developments or road closures. I'm also involved in various traffic research projects, as well as investigation and communication tasks.

My projects vary from small jobs such as driveways to adding a new intersection or analysing the impact of a major commercial or infrastructure development. One interesting project was the temporary traffic management installed for the 2012 Rugby World Cup in Auckland. I designed the detailed layout to minimise traffic delays and queues while ensuring that everyone got to the games on time.

For big projects our team makes a computer model of how the road network is handling the traffic at the moment and uses it to predict how well traffic will flow afterwards. I'm currently helping Auckland Airport develop their 20 year development Masterplan.

I'm enjoying this opportunity to be involved in something significant that could affect the way all of Auckland works in the future. It's hard to predict how people might be behaving in 20 years' time, so it's exciting.

The maths, physics and chemistry I did at school are helpful as they put you into a logical thinking mode. And I enjoy the creativity of my work – it would suit people who are logical but can also think outside the box.

Sometimes you change one thing and it has a magnifying effect and can change all sorts of other things. You need to be able to think ahead and come up with innovative and practical solutions.

Posted February 2012

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Degree in Civil Engineering: Environmental, Geotechnical, Structural or Transport

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