Frequently Asked Questions

What are the “cutting edge” aspects of Infrastructure Engineering that I will learn about?

The Infrastructure Option covers two types of large-scale physical infrastructure, transportation and structures. In transportation, you will learn about:

  • Evaluating and planning for sustainable cities, including micro neighbourhood design to macro level regional policy, and preventive engineering
  • Models for simulating land use, transportation and the evolution of cities over time
  • Models for simulating and optimizing traffic, transit and freight operations
  • “Intelligent” transit, highway, vehicle and freight systems
  • Statistical models of human behaviour that leads to the use of physical infrastructure

In Structural Engineering you will learn about:

  • Why buildings and bridges stand up, and why they sometimes fall down
  • How to design components of infrastructure systems, such as bridges and buildings, so that they meet the legal design requirements of Canada and other International jurisdictions
  • How to use new materials such as higher strength concrete, higher strength steel, and new materials such as glass-fibre reinforced polymers
  • The importance of dynamics in building function as all structures must be able to resist earthquakes and unexpected loading due to, for example, explosions

Is it possible to focus on either structures or transportation instead of doing both?

Yes, but not completely. It is important not to over-specialize, because it will reduce your options upon leaving the university. The Infrastructure Option is organized to have a core third year, followed by a fourth year that provides opportunity to specialize. You will take enough structural and transportation engineering courses in third year to have credible knowledge to practice in either of those fields. In essence you will have “caught up” to the level of a Civil Engineer by the end of third year in each of those fields. In fourth year, you can specialize in either transportation or structural engineering, and will take enough courses in one of those fields to put you on par (at least in terms of coursework) with a MASc student specializing in one of those fields. Dedicated courses in project finance and management and a capstone design course are designed to integrate knowledge from both fields again in fourth year.

How is Infrastructure Engineering different from Civil Engineering?

The main difference is that the Infrastructure Option allows for greater depth of knowledge in the “dry infrastructure” (transportation and structural engineering) while Civil Engineering provides broader knowledge over a wider array of infrastructure and public works (also including water/wastewater treatment, geotechnical engineering, construction management and building science). The Infrastructure Option emphasizes courses with greater scientific content that build upon the analytical strengths that Engineering Science students develop in the first two years. Thus, there are many graduate courses available in the list of specialty electives in fourth year. It also provides courses in economics and in project finance and management, which prepares Infrastructure Option students well for careers as project leaders for large scale infrastructure projects. Also, unlike Civil Engineering, the infrastructure option has an undergraduate thesis as a core requirement allowing students to examine specific topics of interest in much more detail than civil students are generally able to. Recent topics have included designing structures on the moon, use of transportation-related optimization on structural problems, analysis of ancient structures, optimizing container terminal operations and vehicle emissions modelling.

What kind of jobs are previous students in now?

A large proportion of Infrastructure Option students go on to graduate school in top institutions such as MIT, Berkeley and University of Toronto. From there, most have ended up in industry. Some examples of the jobs that infra students are in now include:

  • Several graduates work for transportation engineering consulting firms and one opened a new office for their firm in the US
  • One graduate is working on the Niagara Falls tunnelling project as the Canadian representative of the Austrian Tunnelling firm
  • A number of graduates work in the bridge design community
  • A number are working in consulting practice in Toronto working on, for example, the extension of the TTC subway system where the transportation and structures aspects fit together particularly well
  • Another works at the University of Toronto in improving the sustainability of University activities
  • A number work at materials suppliers working with high performance construction materials
  • More than one work in finance or construction development.

I want to go to Graduate school. Do other universities know about the Infrastructure Option of Engineering Science?

Most of the top universities do. For some universities that have not heard of the EngSci program, we routinely provide a statement in reference letters to clarify the nature of Engineering Science, the quality of the student, the breadth and depth of experience, etc. Our students have been accepted for graduate studies at the following universities:

  • University of Toronto
  • Carnegie Mellon (USA)
  • ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
  • MIT (USA)
  • Princeton (USA)
  • Purdue (USA)
  • ROSE School (Italy)
  • Skoll Program, University of Toronto MBA program
  • University of New South Wales (Australia)
  • University of Stuttgart (Germany)