Transportation heroes

Monday, May 01, 2017

Author: Zach Turek

My name is Zachary Turek, and I am a junior at the University of Nebraska Omaha. I am a civil engineering major, and my area of interest is transportation engineering. Until May 2016, I was unsure of what specialty I wished to pursue in civil engineering. I enjoyed my structural, water resources, and environmental classes, but I was having a difficult time pinning down my true interest. Then I applied for the Mid-America Transportation Center’s internship program, was accepted, and placed with Olsson Associates’ Road/Bridge team in Omaha. Having not taken any highway design courses yet, I was excited for the chance to see what transportation engineers do on a day-to-day basis. Over the course of that summer I realized I wanted to be a transportation engineer.


To me, transportation engineers are often the unsung heroes of our time. Their work becomes the circulatory system for our cities and our nation. Accessibility to businesses and efficient, safe roadways are the lifeblood of any economy and the hallmark of our evolving technology in transportation. Truly, the economy of the entire country rests in the hands of transportation engineers. Everything we use daily was on a truck at one point.


During my internship, I’ve had the chance to witness the design of these systems, and the impacts they have on everything from the environment to residents who depend on them for access to their livelihoods. This became even more tangible when, at a public meeting, I put faces to the property owners who would be directly affected by the work we were undertaking. I knew then that by choosing transportation engineering, I was choosing a path that would allow me to improve the lives of many citizens for generations to come.


Upon graduation, I hope to continue working with Olsson Associates’ Road/Bridge team. I want to continue learning and contributing to a profession that is invaluable to our society, while gaining the experience necessary to apply for professional licensure. As a Nebraska native, I want to improve our state’s infrastructure and help the lives of everyone it affects.