Bronco Spotlight: Dustin Black
Transportation Engineer at Michigan Department of Transportation
As a transportation engineer I help select which transportation infrastructure projects will get built, design the geometric and materialistic models of the roadways, then generate the plans and contract documents that are needed to construct them.
If you had a campus job or internship, how did they impact your career development?
I worked at MDOT throughout my time at CEAS. Seeing what I was learning put into action was invaluable. Internships are one of the highest impact activities an undergraduate can do to prepare for their career.
What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?
I really tried to get the most out of all the resources available to me: I participated in various RSOs, engaged with industry professionals at every opportunity, got involved with externally-funded research, and picked the brains of my professors by regularly asking them questions beyond what we were covering in our coursework. All of this helped me garner a holistic view of the civil engineering profession.
Which of your skills had the biggest impact on your success?
Learning how to communicate in the engineering realm has been an incredibly useful tool for me. You have to know when to turn on and off technical jargon to get the most of an engagement.
What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?
I was a non-traditional student so I worked for several years as an engineering technician prior to attaining an engineering degree. I worked in a wide variety of engineering disciplines before I settled on my current path.
What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours?
Two things: 1) Read your text books. I mean, really read them. Relationship building will only get you so far without the technical chops to back it up. Read your books, then look up trial version of industry software (e.g. RISA, Geopak, AutoCAD, Synchro, VISSIM) and try to duplicate your coursework. Understanding how these programs work will help you hit the ground running when you graduate, and 2) Whether writing reports or communicating with your team: make it correct, make it clear, and make it concise….in that order!