Have you traveled on a road? Have you sipped water from a fountain? You can thank a civil engineer. Engineers design and create things. Civil engineers create on systems that help our towns and cities run. They work on things we can see, like roads. They also work on things we don’t see, like underground pipes. TIME for Kids spoke with three civil engineers. Read on to find out how they help our communities.
COURTESY YUNG KOPROWSKI
Roads don’t appear by magic. Neither do sidewalks or bike lanes. These things are carefully designed. Engineers are the people behind planning them.
YUNG KOPROWSKI is a transportation engineer. She works in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. She creates new ways for people to get around. She fixes old transportation systems, too. “We make it safer and easier for people to travel to the places where they live, work, and play,” Koprowski says.
Transportation engineers have a lot to think about. They think about road signs, markings, and more. Problem-solving is a big part of the job. Math and science skills are important, too. Koprowski has advice for future engineers. “Don’t stop trying,” she says.
COURTESY JAY BRANNON
Meet JAY BRANNON. She is an environmental engineer. She oversees the building of public water systems. This means she works on pipes that move water underground. Brannon works with designers, geologists, architects, and others.
Brannon is based in Portland, Oregon. She led an important project there. She helped rebuild a water pipe under a hiking trail. The pipe carries stormwater underground. This keeps the water from washing away the trail.
Brannon is a woman of color. In engineering, this comes with many challenges. “There are not many of us, so it can be frustrating,” she says. But Brannon hopes to inspire more people of color to go into engineering. She is working on a textbook about the topic. “Representation is really important,” she says.
As a kid, RUWANKA PURASINGHE knew about engineering. “But I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that with the rest of my life,” he says. Then he traveled to Rome, Italy. He saw an ancient aqueduct system there. An aqueduct is a structure that carries water. The one he saw is still being used today. The experience had an impact on Purasinghe. “It really opened my eyes,” he says.
Now Purasinghe is a geotechnical engineer. He works in Los Angeles, California. He solves problems with the water supply. He uses pipes and water tanks to do so. This work is extra important when the city has a drought.
“Engineers have been solving problems for thousands of years,” Purasinghe says. “I enjoy thinking of ways to help future generations.”