MTI Report 08-03

Research Report Paving The Way: Recruiting Students into the Transportation Professions (PDF 1.4MB)


The transportation industry faces a growing shortage of professional engineers and planners. One key strategy in solving this problem will be to encourage more civil engineering and urban planning students to specialize in transportation while completing their degrees, so that employers have a larger pool of likely recruits. However, very little is known about how these students choose a specialization. To help fill that gap, this report examines the factors that lead civil engineering undergraduates and urban planning masters students to specialize in transportation, as opposed to other sub-disciplines within the two fields. The primary data collection methods were web-based surveys of 1,852 civil engineering undergraduates and 869 planning masters students. The study results suggest steps the transportation community can take to increase the number of civil engineering and planning students who choose to specialize in transportation.


Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D.

Dr. Agrawal is an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University, as well as Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center. Her research and teaching interests include transportation finance, pedestrian planning, and planning and transportation history. She has a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in City and Regional Planning.

Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.

Dr. Dill is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, and the Director of the Center for Transportation Studies at PSU. Her research and teaching interests focus on transportation and environmental planning, travel behavior, air quality, and transportation-land use interactions. Prior to entering academia, she worked as an environmental and transportation planner for government and non-profit organizations in California. She has a B.S. in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California, Davis, a M.A. in Urban Planning from University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.


Authors: Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D. and Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.
Published: June 2009
Keywords: Civil engineering; Education; Job opportunities; Planning; Transportation careers; Urban planning; Transportation planning; Universities