How many of us have fallen for this illusory trap of going into civil engineering and subconsciously reducing its broad spectrum to the design of buildings and their implementation on site?
Yes, we could have been told that it actually consists of several other branches, yet there is this inexplicable mentality in our surrounding that incites us to think otherwise. And unfortunately, the two first years of a CEE student at AUB don’t help in re-calibrating this way of thinking.
These two first years mostly consist of structure courses and attribute no consistent focus on other branches, and yet, professors still wonder why students have an inclination towards this particular branch.
However, the intent of this article is not to criticize AUB’s program, but rather to offer a new perspective on the growth potential and market demand resting in the transportation field.
After having assisted to the seminar presented by Gustave Cordahi, a Lead Associate in Booz Allen Hamilton, and having done my little research in my free time, the first thing which I can guarantee is the fact that the revolution in the vehicles’ market is going to be as noisy as the one of the smartphones’.
The near future lies in ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) and consists of connected vehicles as well as automated ones. Connected vehicles are ones equipped with a Wi-Fi system which allows them to communicate among each other (or with surrounding infrastructures) within a 300m range with the aim of informing the driver of relevant data, such as speed reduction and prevention of unseen obstructions; whereas automated cars are simply fully self-driving cars.
You may be tempted to think that this technology is too futuristic and far from our generation’s capabilities, but the U.S. government doesn’t. According to Cordahi, it has set regulations forcing all the big names in the cars’ industry to turn their vehicles into connected ones by 2020.
Added to this is the fact that even tech giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Intel want to join the game. The first two are developing their own automated car prototypes, whereas the latter two are focusing on collaborations with car manufacturers.
Now, it isn’t because these tech giants found passion in manufacturing smart vehicles that they joined the game, but rather because of the priceless data that they can retrieve out of them.
For instance, they would be able to uncover the driving patterns people are following in the city and sell these to interested parties. An analogy to this concept is the smart advertisement system on Facebook. Knowing what pages you are surfing on, Facebook smartly suggests products and services accordingly. The same applies for the drivers’ data.
That being said, job opportunities lie more than ever in this field, and we as students aren’t aware of it. Our view on this field is unfortunately based on the few very basic courses given at AUB, which don’t even mention ITS. Despite that fact, let me end this note by reassuring you that it definitely holds an inspiring future and a great demand for transportation engineers.