Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Profile

 

Monica Kousoulou

Country: Cyprus

Name: Monica Kousoulou

Company: AECOM, UK

Position: Graduate Traffic Engineer

ITS course: MSc (Eng) Transport Planning and Engineering, 2015

I joined AECOM in September 2015 as a graduate engineer within the traffic engineering team in the Leeds office. The work I carry out on day-to-day basis involves highways design and a variety of modelling - from strategic and micro-simulation modelling to design, modelling and assessment of signalised and priority junctions. 

When I joined ITS my knowledge of transport planning and traffic/highways engineering was limited as my background was civil and environmental engineering with main focus on structural engineering. The theoretical and practical knowledge I got from ITS on transportation not only helped me to get a job offer right after finishing my first semester, but also gave me enough confidence on using  the different modelling software at my work from day one. 

I chose to study the MSc Transport Planning and Engineering course because I wanted to learn more on transport modelling and engineering.  In general, there are lot of options in terms of postgraduate degrees if you want to follow a career in transportation, but I chose ITS because of its excellent reputation and its high level of research on transportation. I knew that an institute with that high level of research can provide a very high level of education to its students. Also, the ITS graduate employability level was another important factor for me as I wanted to work in the UK after finishing my postgraduate degree. 

I took part in the ITS Employer visits and would definitely recommend it to everyone as it’s a really good opportunity to guarantee a job before finishing your course. By applying to the companies through ITS it is easier to be noticed by the employers. Also, the options you have in terms of companies are so many that you might end up getting interview invitations from the majority of them and this basically increases the possibilities of getting an offer. 

The highlight of my career so far was my involvement in one of the greatest and most important projects for London, the King’s Cross options assessment which aims to transform the central London’s network into a more friendly environment for cyclists and pedestrians, while at the same time improving the public transport operation and reducing the level of congestion and air pollution. Being involved in that project I had the chance to work with TfL which was something I didn’t expect when I started. I used to reference my work at university with their research and after few months I got this amazing opportunity to collaborate with them. In very short period of time I became a key member of the project and I took on responsibilities that I never thought I would get in that early stage of my career. I was responsible for the strategic modelling of the new design options and involved in signal design / modelling, microsimulation and preliminary design. The experience that I got in just one year was definitely beyond my expectations. 

A degree from ITS can give you lot of great opportunities to start your career in transport sector. No matter if you are a UK, EU or International student the opportunities are the same as ITS is well known worldwide for its excellence. My only advice to those of you who are still considering joining ITS is just to go for it – plus a bonus to all this, Leeds is an amazing place to study, live and work!