What I study, what I do
This weekend I went to a city named Sobral, the city that my girlfriend lives. It´s located about 220km from Fortaleza. Unhappiness, I passed the entire weekend sick. I was with fever and headache. All my body was hurting. My girlfriend took care of me and I’m feeling well now (I think she will be a good physician - she studies medicine).
First of all, Rachel, I read the last two posts and it is amazing the way that you talked about direct and indirect speech. These topics became clearer to me after your explanation. I can't wait to read the next post about verbs tenses. I don't know if it is possible, but could you give me some more examples of reporting verbs? I’m particularly interested about two-word reporting verbs (e.g. pointed out).
I wanted to reply all comments, but there is a lot. I’ll comment today about the comment of Mahjabeen from Pakistan and I’ll talk some more about my job.
Mahjabeen asked me what “transportation engineering” is and how it is related to economics.
Well, Mahjabeen, as economist I’m concerned about the social use of scarce resources and its most efficient use. A scarce resource can be petroleum, water, sits in a train, the space for cars in a street. A scarce resource has that name because you cannot use it infinitely. Efficient use can be understood as the use that gives to the society the higher level of welfare. Commonly, welfare is measured in terms of income. As higher the income levels of a nation as higher its quality of life. I high development level means that I country has a high capacity to produce goods and services. Then, how is it related with transportation engineering?
As I told you I worked civil in an engineering company (in fact, in a company that works with construction, waste management, etc), in a bank and in a railway (after starts study transportation engineering) before working as independent consultant.
The job I liked less was as banking. Banks play an important role in a society. However, here in Brazil the bankers are worried just with their selves in a higher level than in the rest of the world. Someone told that I banker is someone that gives you an umbrella in a sunny day and takes it back from you when starts to rain. Here in Brazil it is more truth than in the rest of the world. I felt like working for nothing. Of course, they paid me for my job but I could not see the social benefits of my work. Before, I worked in a construction company and every day I could see the social results of my efforts. My job contributed to build ports, airports, roads, bridges, water supply systems, etc. Working in a bank, theoretically, you can contribute with those activities financing companies. But it almost never happens here (or, when it happens, is in a small scale – and in general it happens for the middle of a state-owned bank, not for a private bank).
I was unhappy as banking and I wanted to work with “infrastructure”. But what is it?
The Free Dictionary defines infrastructure as “the basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.”
All those things (the basic facilities) can contribute for a nation to produce more goods and services, and more efficiently. The development of the infrastructure of a nation is a basic step to bring development for a nation. Imagine your lives, in your homes. You have water, sanitation, electricity, gas, telephone, and internet. Every day you go to your job to the college by bus, train or driving your car and you use public infrastructure (paved roads, rail lines, etc). Maybe your country needs to buy petroleum from other countries and it travels in cargo ships that use ports to load and unload the petroleum. Maybe one day you decide visit Fortaleza, Brazil, so you should take a plane and came here. We should guarantee that you staying here can be as good as it gets. So, you have to guarantee you clean water, communication with your family and access to our best beaches and touristic places.
Developing infrastructure a government or a company can offer you basic services, fundamental to our lives and to develop business in a country. It is a good way to generate jobs, too. And I wanted to contribute with the development of the infrastructure of my country. How?
There is no specific field in the city I live to study infrastructure economics. But one day I was in a conversation with a professor, and he suggested me to look for the course of Transportation Engineering at Universidade Federal do Ceará (UFC), the same that I had studied.
Transportation Engineering is a field of the engineering that works with everything related to transport. It means that they work with bridges, ports, airports, cars, bus, trains; the spatial location of residences, schools, colleges; and the things that must be transported from one place to another (people and goods). Where I study, the course to obtain the Masters’ Degree in Transportation Engineering is divided in two major fields: (1) infrastructure and (2) planning.
The ones that study the planning of a transport system (I´m included in this group) are concerned to comprehend standards of travel from one place to another. Or, why some kinds of travels are made (by people or by goods) and what influences these movements. You go everyday to school. But what school? Is there any school near your home? Why don´t you go to another school? How do you go to your job? By car? By train? By bus and train? Do you walk from your home to the supermarket? The United Kingdom buys petroleum from other countries. What countries are those? Brazil buys components to made computers from China, South Korea, and Malaysia. Why Brazil doesn´t buy these components from other countries? Why the petroleum that United Kingdom buys is transported in a cargo ship and why the components that Brazil bought from other countries travels in airplane? To plan a transport system you have to answer many questions – more than I asked before. And the economists have the ability to answer some of these questions. But other professionals are required to help to plan a transport system: architects, engineers, geographers, statisticians, sociologists, etc.
For the other side, the major field infrastructure is concerned to project roads, railways, etc. They are concerned to made travels easier. At UFC they have focuses different kinds of pavement. For example, they have good results with a kind of asphalt that is made from recycled tires of automobiles. They have other good results using an oil from cashew nut as substitute to some toxic products required to made some kind of pavements. And chemical engineers, system analysts, statisticians, and other professional are required, too.
As independent consultant, I use the technical background that I learned studying economics and transportation engineering to evaluate investments in infrastructure. In general, I help to choose the one that cost less or the one that has the higher social benefit. I had worked with projects in transport (new roads), logistics, sanitation, and with touristic infrastructure. I don´t have a routine. Every job is a new job and has its own challenges. Sometimes I have to work for long hours, days and nights, to finish a job. And the work is not done when I finish an analysis. The work just ends when the project is in the construction phase.
Before the end of this post, I want to share with you a personal victory. When I started to blog in January I had to look for words at the dictionary, grammar rules and new ways to write better. It was a hard job. I’m not writing as well as I could, but I’m sure that I’m writing better. To write this post, I did not use grammar and I just look at the dictionary to define the word infrastructure. I’m trying to do the things by myself. I feel more confident, but I'm sure I made more mistakes. Now, I want your help (again). Where are my mistakes? What phrases I could write better?
Thank you everyone for the comments, thank you Teacher Rachel and thanks BBC!
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