While degree programs focusing solely on transportation design are rare, many schools offer programs in civil and general engineering touching on the topic. These degree programs prepare graduates to become automobile designers, aircraft designers, marine craft designers, transportation policy analysts, and urban planners.
Applicants are required to have completed high school to enter a bachelor's degree program. Not all master's degree programs require applicants to have earned a Bachelor of Science degree in an engineering science. Some schools simply require a minimum amount of undergraduate coursework in probability, calculus, and economics. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in engineering who earned a 3.0 GPA are encouraged to apply for doctoral programs. Admission to Ph.D. programs is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so students with sufficient training in math and science are eligible to apply.
Bachelor of Science Degrees Covering Transportation Design
Interdisciplinary programs specific to transportation design are available, as well as general civil and environmental engineering programs allowing for concentration in transportation design options. These 4-year programs teach students about ergonomics and how trends in consumer spending affect the design process for the next generation of products. Students learn about the effect weight, energy efficiency at varying speeds, and horsepower have on the drag, safety, and acceleration of a vehicle.
Students engage in learning experiences, including building a presentation-caliber model to scale in order to test how aerodynamic an object is. Additionally, programs offer coursework in:
- Automotive marketing
- Structural analysis
- Vehicle architecture
- Vehicle fabrication
- Virtual craft modeling
Master of Science Degrees Covering Transportation Design
Transportation design professionals spur a region's social, economic, and physical growth by creating efficient controls, vehicles, policies, and public facilities. Programs focus on the design, planning, construction techniques, management, and maintenance of vehicles and infrastructure. Civil or transportation engineering programs take 18-24 months to complete. Online options are available.
Coursework is available in logistics and economics in addition to the legal requirements of the airline and automotive industries. Training is offered in the following subjects:
- Information technology
- Transportation analysis
- Transportation planning
- Transportation policy
- Urban transportation
Doctor of Philosophy Programs Covering Transportation Engineering
Completion of a program in transportation engineering or civil engineering with a concentration in transportation engineering takes 4-5 years for students who have no level of graduate training. Thesis and non-thesis options are available. These programs are affiliated with research labs, where students experiment with construction materials, hydraulics, and computer simulations.
Students use probability, physics, and information technology to create travel routes and real-time traffic identification systems to shorten travel times and decrease fuel consumption and air pollution. In addition to general coursework in mathematics, programs offer training in:
- Airport design
- Public transit planning
- Roadway design
- Traffic engineering
Popular Career Options
Graduates are prepared for careers working with a variety of modes of transportation, including watercraft, public train systems, and private automotive design. Employment possibilities include:
- Automotive concept designer
- Interior designer, aircraft
- Marine craft designer
- Public transportation designer
- Vehicle customization specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 4% increase in general engineering jobs from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). This same source predicted job openings for civil engineers would grow 6% during the same 10-year period. In 2018, civil engineers earned a median annual wage of $86,640, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education and Licensure
Only engineers interested in working directly with the public are required to earn licensure as Professional Engineers. Qualified applicants for the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES) exams must have graduated from bachelor's degree programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Candidates go through a long process of an initial examination, supervised work experience, and a final examination prior to earning credentials as Professional Engineers.
Requirements for the maintenance of the Professional Engineer credential involve the completion of a certain number of continuing education credits every 1-2 years. Graduate certificate programs in transportation design and other graduate coursework are available to interested students.
Pursuing a degree in transportation design or a related engineering degree with a concentration in this discipline will help students enter the career force in the various subfields of civil engineering. Compared to some other engineering fields, graduates will face a more favorable job market.