Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Profile

Elena Chiari

Country: Panama

Name: Elena Chiari

Company: Steer Davies Gleave, Bogota Office

Position: Senior Consultant

ITS Course: MSc (Eng) Transport Planning and Engineering 2012

I am currently a Senior Consultant at Steer Davies Gleave in their offices in Bogota, Colombia. Here I help develop transport related projects in Colombia and Panama; as I am the only Panamanian in the firm. For instance, I've worked on the study of the influence a new transport mode will have on the existing bus service, the viability of a new toll road, a mobility plan for a soon-to-be transformed neighbourhood and a strategic plan for 2030 for the reduction of transport related issues in over 100 municipalities that form a department of Colombia.

The level of my responsibilities changes with the magnitude of the project at hand. It generally includes the elaboration of technical reports for engineering projects using primary or secondary data. If it is primary data, I am very involved in the data collection and verification process; designing questionnaires, training surveyors, supervising and validating the data collected. Additionally, I am required to delegate tasks to fellow co-workers with the aim of using their results in the preparation and development of projects. I am also required to give solution to problems that arise and devise methodologies for undertaking tasks at hand.

Before attending ITS, I worked in Panama on many transport engineering projects; such as traffic analysis and designs. Nonetheless, I had very limited knowledge about the planning aspect of transport and am finding it very useful. For example, the importance of certain standard indicators for the selection of transport schemes, and the wide variety of schemes available depending on the characteristics and future focus of a country or place.

I chose to study at ITS because I really liked the fact you could choose the courses you wanted to attend, depending on your own personal interests. I chose my particular course mainly because I´ve known all my life I want to live in Panama, a very small country with just a handful of people in this area of expertise. Thus, I thought a degree in both planning and engineering would open more doors than a degree in only planning. I also wanted to be in a smaller city than London, thinking it would have a more student-friendly environment and would be a better place to get to know authentic English culture and people. Later on I found out many of the renowned people of this field studied at Leeds University or were there teaching and researching; which made me reaffirm my choice.

As I said before, I think the fact that you can choose the subjects you want to take is a great advantage because you can learn about the things you are more interested in and that are more applicable to your own special circumstances.

ITS takes the task of giving students many tools and opportunities to grow in their field very seriously. For instance, it organises field trips to see how certain schemes and organisations work and give training in the use of several useful software programmes. Many external seminars in diverse subjects are held with the aim of broadening the spectrum of knowledge about schemes and techniques which have been applied in England and the rest of the world. They also hold an annual employers’ visit where many companies in our field explain what they do, their focus and offer jobs for the students.

If you are interested in receiving quality education from renowned professionals while also learning about their application in real life scenarios through case studies, projects, techniques and schemes first hand, then I truly recommend you attend ITS.