B.S. Civil Engineering with M.S. Urban Planning/Development


First off, I want to thank all of the people who have put together this web site for women/girls interested in engineering!

I am currently a senior at Cal State Long Beach and will graduate with my Civil Engineering B.S. in a few semesters. I am interested in structures or transportation (i'm still learning about both, so i can't really say which one i like better at this point). However, I also recently learned about urban planning/development from online.

I was wondering if it would be an asset to study urban planning/development as part of a masters program, or if it would make little or no difference. What would be a good match for a master's program for me, if i choose to get a master's degree after getting my B.S. in civil engineering?

I am not sure exactly which company i will be working in once I graduate, but i can see myself working for the city or government in possibly structures or transpo. I am simply exploring my options and was wondering on your opinions about this.

Thank you for your insight, and I look forward to hearing from you!

posted by Michelle, Long Beach, CA on March 29, 2012

Answer by Ms Lisa Robert

Michelle- First let me congratulate you on your decision to pursue a career in Civil Engineering. We certainly need more women in this field and my experience has been that the women in the area of Civil tend to excel in their roles as they bring communication and softer skills that are sometimes missing from this industry. Now regarding your question. A combination of pure Civil Engineering Design with a Roadway Design focus and a masters in Urban Planning / Development would be a good complementary fit for the future direction of the civil industry. Let me elaborate on that. When we look at how we will build things in the future, the trend embrace smarter land use (more with less) and the depletion of developable land, there is a future need for Urban Planning and Development skills. The compliment of having a strong engineering background is a great companion to this type of career track. As you have already learned, engineering requires a strong basis in the rational and the details of how something is designed - lots of left brain skills. A career in Urban Planning / Development requires the use of more of your right brain skills - possibilities, present and future focused, spatial abilities. So someone with the abilities to combine effectively both of these skills can be very useful in this field. Deciding on a field for a master's degree is an important decision. I can tell you that in my work and what I do today, a Masters in Business would have been a very good compliment to my current role as I have moved into a management track in the field of engineering. I hope you find this helpful and good luck to you- Lisa