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Oklahoma State University

Transportation Engineering

Transportation engineering is the science of safe and efficient movement of people and goods (transport). The planning aspects of transportation engineering relate to urban planning, and involve technical forecasting decisions and political factors. Technical forecasting of passenger travel usually involves an urban transportation planning model, requiring the estimation of trip generation (how many trips for what purpose), trip distribution (destination choice, where is the traveler going), mode choice (what mode is being taken), and route assignment (which streets or routes are being used). More sophisticated forecasting can include other aspects of traveler decisions, including auto ownership, trip chaining (the decision to link individual trips together in a tour) and the choice of residential or business location (known as land use forecasting).

While passenger trips are often the main focus of transportation engineering since these often represent the peak of demand on any transportation system, the field also has a focus on freight transport - the movement of goods from their point of manufacture to their point of sale.

The design aspects of transportation engineering include the sizing of transportation facilities (how many lanes or how much capacity the facility has), determining the materials and thickness used in pavement, designing the geometry (vertical and horizontal alignment) of the roadway (or track).

Operations and management involve traffic engineering, so that vehicles move smoothly on the road or track. Older techniques include signs, signals, markings, and tolling. Newer technologies involve Intelligent Transportation Systems, including Advanced Traveler Information Systems (such as variable message signs), Advanced Traffic Control Systems (such as ramp meters), and Vehicle Infrastructure Integration. Human factors are an aspect of transport engineering, particularly concerning driver-vehicle interface and user interface of road signs, signals, and markings.


  • Samir A. Ahmed, Ph.D., P.E. Professor
  • Stephen Cross, Ph.D., P.E., Professor
  • Gorman Gilbert, Ph.D., P.E., Emeritus Professor
  • Philip G. Manke, Ph.D., P.E. Emertus Professor

Undergraduate Courses

  • Transportation Engineering - CIVE 3633

Graduate Courses

  • Systems Analysis for Civil Engineers - CIVE 5303
  • Highway Traffic Operations - CIVE 5313
  • Urban Transportation Planning - CIVE 5343
  • Design and Planning of Airports - CIVE 5363
  • Design of Traffic Control Systems - CIVE 5373
  • Geometric Design of Highways - CIVE 5383
  • Asphalt Materials and Mix Design - CIVE 5653
  • Pavement Design and Analysis - CIVE 5693