Carnegie Mellon University

Driving Towards Success: Emile Qu's Journey as a Transportation Specialist

qu-headshot-circle-1.pngAs Emile Qu searched for a graduate program, he did a deep dive into each school’s curriculum options to determine where he’d get the best education for his career goals.

“CMU has, undeniably, a strong reputation and the best engineering program,” he says. “And it also has great courses, for example, in building and information modeling (BIM) and geographic information systems (GIS)—two areas that I am very interested in.”

These courses, and Qu’s desire to study resilience and sustainability in infrastructure management, led him to CEE.  During the one-and-a-half-year program, he chose a course-heavy curriculum that included learning REVIT software, a skill he believes is essential as he moves ahead in his career. 

“I also took a class called Smart Cities that discussed concepts in transportation and urban planning—as well as transportation engineering classes.” These courses allowed him to add to the knowledge gained during his undergrad studies in Civil Engineering. “I got to revisit those concepts and build on them to keep learning more.”

Qu states that the Master’s degree program’s required internship solidified his passion for transportation engineering—and led to a job offer. “I interned with the Sarasota County government, and it went so well that they asked me to come on full-time.” He began his position as a Transportation Specialist just days after graduation.

“I interned with the Sarasota County government, and it went so well that they asked me to come on full-time.”

Qu at Legacy Trail Pedestrian/Bicyclist Safety Outreach His current role is deeply connected with the local community. “I’m responsible for answering citizen calls and solving their concerns regarding transportation planning and traffic operations.” The experience, coupled with his education, helped him to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam, a major career milestone that has allowed him to become “an expert in transportation engineering.”

Qu advises current students to try new courses to diversify their learning—and says that finding the right internship was a critical part of his CEE experience. “Researching internships and landing an internship took a lot of time, but it’s worth it.” He brushed up on his interview skills and got help with the internship search at CMU’s Career and Professional Development Center—a resource that he highly recommends. 

He adds that it’s important to focus on the interpersonal side of the industry, noting that strong communication skills are critical. “Communication is a skill not often associated with engineering. But knowing how to communicate effectively is one of the more essential skills a future engineer can have.”

Now that his studies are over and his internship has transitioned into the start of a career, Qu reflects on his time at CMU with pride. He earned a 4.0 GPA while staying highly focused on his studies and goals. “Find the path that is right for you. The sooner you can settle down and decide what to take in school, the sooner you’ll get the first taste of your future.”