Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)



Country: UK  

Name: John Nightingale

Company: JCT Consultancy Ltd & Institute of Highway Engineers

Position: Director (JCT Consultancy), President (Institute of Highway Engineers)

ITS Course: MSc (Eng) Transport Planning and Engineering, 2005

I am a director at JCT Consultancy who are best known in traffic engineering circles as the developers of LinSig traffic signal modeling software. JCT is a relatively small consultancy so my responsibilities are varied but principally I oversee the running of our traffic engineering consultancy and training services. I spend a significant amount of my time developing and delivering training courses to local authorities and consultants in the UK and overseas.

When I joined the board of JCT I decided to make LinSig software free to universities and to support its teaching so I am delighted to say that I also get some time to run software workshops in universities throughout the UK including an annual trip to ITS at Leeds.

Along with my day job I also do voluntary work for the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) where I am currently serving as President, the IHE has just launched a National Highway Engineering Academy and as President I am also acting Chair of the Academy.

Undertaking the MSc (Eng) at ITS was pivotal in terms of my development as an engineer and my career. Having initially studied Physics at Sheffield City Polytechnic I had found my way into traffic engineering and was working in local government. I was already an Incorporated Engineer but needed to secure a Masters degree to allow me to progress to Chartered Engineer. More importantly though the course of study at ITS and the culture of intellect and innovation re-invigorated my love of learning and research and ultimately drove me to seek out a challenging career which allows me to work with some of the leading experts in the world.

I chose my ITS course and the University of Leeds because when I was originally researching Masters Degrees I initially went to my employer with a distance learning option from another university, I did so because I thought it unlikely they would give me day release. My manager at the time challenged my proposal and asked if the course I had identified was the best and if distance learning was the best way of undertaking it. I already knew that ITS had a first class reputation and would be my first choice. I subsequently made a business case for my attendance at ITS and I am delighted to say it was accepted.

My advice to students interested in this course is be ready to be challenged and to work extremely hard. Assignments come thick and fast with tight deadlines and the standards required are high, but if you have a thirst for knowledge and want to gain an MSc (Eng) from one of the most highly respected institutes this is the course for you. Employers in the Traffic Engineering field have great respect for Masters Degrees from ITS and successful completion will put you at the front of the queue when it comes to the top jobs. As to considering a career in transport, I am obviously focused on traffic engineering and can tell UK students that there are significant opportunities to secure good positions at the moment and excellent prospects ahead. My international travel also brings me into contact with overseas employers and I know that UK trained engineers are also in great demand. A career in transport may not be as financially rewarding as one in the banking sector but I am sure we engineers have a lot more fun!

The highlight of my career so far? I suppose that would be my Presidency of the Institute of Highway Engineers. I was elected President in 2014 and will hand over to my successor in June this year. The highlight of my Presidency has been celebrating fifty years of the IHE at a luncheon hosted by Baroness Scott of Needham Market at the House of Lords where I also had the pleasure of awarding Honorary Fellowship to Baroness Scott and to Professor Margaret Bell (formerly of ITS).

Unfortunately, due to changes in employment law it’s getting increasingly difficult for employers such as me to give opportunities to none EU students. This is a real shame as many international students are a real asset to our sector and help us to fill our increasing skills gap. It is still possible to get employment in the UK but I would strongly recommend that you start building professional networks as soon as you can. Most professional bodies (such as mine) offer free student membership and being a member of a professional body gives you access to a professional community and build your network.