Civil Engineering

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    Grace Ryan

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Transportation Engineer

Transportation Engineer

Kuany Sang, Beca

Earning: $48-52,000
In a nutshell: Designing, planning and assessing transportation facilities.
Why? “We are trying to mitigate accidents and make our roads safer.”

Pathway: Epsom Girls Grammar School, Year 13: Calculus, Geography, Classical Studies, Physics, Computer Studies
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) majoring in Civil Engineering

Most of us take it for granted that our roads will be clearly marked and safe for driving. Behind the scenes, people like Kuany Sang are working hard to make sure they stay that way.

As a transportation engineer for Beca, Kuany designs, plans and assesses transportation facilities. “We do the design of traffic signals, traffic signs and line markings to make our roads safer,” she says. “We do a lot of traffic safety work and these include crash barriers, as we are trying to mitigate accidents.”

Her team works mainly with the government, drawing on accident reports and other data to find hazardous spots on the roads. “Every year we look at the statistics and see why there are so many crashes at a particular intersection, for example. It may be that an intersection that just has ‘Give Way’ or ‘Stop’ signs may need to be changed to an intersection controlled by traffic lights.”

One big project for Kuany was working on 4 metre high signs for the Victoria Park Tunnel. These huge signs have a portion which changes electronically, which allows the display of destination and estimated travelling time. The tunnel will have three lanes and one of the on-ramps will be only open during peak hour, so it’s important to be able to communicate to drivers whether the on-ramp is open or closed.

“This was a different kind of job for me, as we usually only design static road signs. I needed to talk to the signage manufacturers and understand the mechanics behind the digital signs and what goes on behind them to make them operate.”

Each project is different, so there’s a lot of learning on the job. One of the main challenges for Kuany is dealing with different kinds of people and learning how to work effectively with them. 

“I work in teams within transportation, but also I need to liaise with the civil and geotechnical people,” she says. “So you get to understand what other people do as well.”

Posted December 2011

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