Rulian Barros, Ph.D., is a transportation engineer who joined the Indianapolis, IN, office in 2022. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Federal Center for Technological Education of Rio de Janeiro and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Mississippi. Prior to joining CMT, he served as a graduate research assistant for Ole Miss, where he worked on a Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) pavement performance modeling project. Rulian also served as a teaching assistant at the university for several undergraduate engineering courses.
How did your career journey begin?
I always liked construction and was planning to eventually pursue civil engineering, so at 17, I started working as a road technician and as an environmental technician. This was the first opportunity I had to go straight to the market and learn the practice. That’s something that we usually do in Brazil: We work and study at the same time to build practical knowledge in conjunction with theoretical knowledge. This goes for college, also.
Ultimately, I worked for five or six different companies as I studied, doing different civil infrastructure work types, both in the office and in the field. That experience helped me realize I wanted to do primarily office-based work with pavements, with highways, and with anything related to this.
One of the most helpful things about having this broad early career experience was getting to know what kind of work gets done in the field, which helps me think more about what I can do from the office to be helpful to people working in the field as a project moves from design to construction.
What did you specialize in during your doctoral studies?
I specialized in highway pavement performance and artificial neural network modeling and completed my dissertation, “Development and Evaluation of Performance Models for Asphalt, Concrete, and Composite Pavements using Machine Learning,” in August 2022. Throughout my studies, I created models to predict pavement roughness – without the need to go to the physical location and take measurements – and to project when roads will need maintenance.
What aspects of your work do you find most fulfilling?
Watching projects go full circle, from concept on paper to the finished product, is very fulfilling to me. It’s rewarding to see our plans and ideas become real life. There are many things about the inner workings of civil infrastructure that most people don’t get to see or know about, and as civil engineers, we have the unique opportunity to understand and experience those inner workings of infrastructure as we contribute to projects from beginning to end.
What new professional skills are you most excited to work on developing in the future, and why?
As of now, I am focused on corridor-related work – drawings and road modeling. All this work is enhancing my technical skills.
I also look forward to learning more about management practices: how to manage a project, how to manage the hours, how to manage the project team. I appreciate having the opportunity to work alongside and learn from great leaders – including Bill Bailey, Adam Burns, Cassie Reiter, and Nick Batta – who have such deep expertise in this area.
What do you value most about CMT’s company culture?
CMT highly values its team, and it shows. I see it in the way CMT leaders are always seeking out ideas and feedback on how we, as a team, can keep improving. I also see it in the way that CMT invests in its team through high-quality learning and development experiences like the New Employee Workshop. These are just a couple examples.
In addition, since joining the firm, I have enjoyed getting to know my CMT coworkers and building our sense of community through shared fun like a trip to an Indy Eleven soccer game; excitement around major events in the worlds of pro and college sports; and seasonal activities including a cubicle-decorating contest and cookie-baking competition.