- Course: MSc (Eng) Transport Planning and Engineering
- Year of graduation: 2019
- Nationality: Greek
- Job title: Pavement Engineer
- Company: Atkins UK
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/panagiotis-palantas-751481143/
I am working in the Asset Team for Connect Plus Services. CPS is a joint venture between Atkins Balfour Betty and Egis. My main responsibilities are to develop, implement and continuously improve an asset management strategy to deliver efficient and effective maintenance and renewal activities to the Pavement whilst considering the DBFOs asset management objectives; to provide a long-term integrated asset management and value adding approach for Pavements and assist in the development and implementation of an integrated Asset Management System.
Assist with the management and maintenance of Highways England Pavement Management System (HAPMS), to include network referencing, construction updates, and reporting for inclusion in the Asset Management Forward plan (1, 5 and 30 year) and to identify and scope maintenance, renewal and improvement projects to overcome pavement issues.
My experience in ITS was instrumental for my job and my career. Specifically, in ITS I learnt the current and future trends in transport (Shaping Future Transport Systems & seminars organised by ITS throughout the year); transport is undertaking a paradigm shift and it is very beneficial when you can anticipate and embrace change; the key role that data play in making informed decisions and adding value for the client and the wider public. (Transport Data Collection and Analysis); be familiar with Design Manual of Road and Bridges (DMRB) and learn how to use it properly in various schemes (Transport Engineering and TDCA engineering Stream).
Furthermore, ITS gave me the chance to sit in elective courses and have access to the coursework notes. This proved a key in securing my job. Initially on my second semester I enrolled in all the modelling courses. However, I also chose to sit in on the pavement module. There I learnt the principles of pavement engineering and highway asset management which gave me a lot of confidence during my interview and helped me a lot in my current role.
The reputation of ITS and my undergraduate professor’s recommendation resulted in putting ITS in my shortlist. Then I did a thorough research in the courses offered and the staff members and I quickly realised that ITS is probably the best place in Europe if you are passionate about transport. Also the University of Leeds is a great institution with amazing facilities and an inclusive culture. Finally, it was also important for me that both ITS and UoL organise a lot of extracurricular activities.
My advice to students interested in this course and a career in transport is that ITS is the best place for you. You will have the chance to meet people from all over the world that share the same passion for you in transportation. You will be surprised how passionate and experienced all the professors are, but at the same time friendly and approachable. Don’t miss any of the events organised by the ITS e.g. Metropolis (my favourite please don’t miss it), Europe Trip, Bumper Cars, Employer Visits, ITS barbecue and many more. It is the best time to pursue a career in transport no matter what your background is. There is so much happening currently in the transport industry from high speed rail, sustainable and active mobility, harnessing the power of data to provide the best service to the user while minimizing the cost and the environmental impact.
The ITS Employer Visits is a great way to meet some of the top employers in transportation, you can learn about the work they do and you have the chance to ask them questions in the familiar environment of ITS. A lot of my colleagues got a job offers through the employer visits and a lot more found it very useful. ITS provides support throughout the application process. Just have an eye for the events that are organised. Also don’t hesitate to contact an ITS staff member they are always happy to help you.
The highlight of my career so far in transport is working for Connect Plus Services to develop, implement and continuously improve the asset management strategy, for the M25 and intersecting trunk roads. As part of this I am applying a risk-based approach to deliver efficient and effective maintenance and renewal activities to the pavement whilst considering the DBFOs asset management objectives.
My advice to ITS international students who are seeking work in the transport sector is to start the application process as early as possible. Check the vacancies of major UK employers. Regularly check the news on transport companies, local authorities or government agencies that are working on things you are passionate about. Discuss transport news with your professors and your classmates. Seek advice from your classmates and ask them to give you feedback on your CV and your cover letter. University of Leeds and ITS have a lot of resources at your disposal, so learn about them early on and book your appointments. Make sure you will be well-prepared so you will make the most of them. Don’t judge a job by its title. There are many jobs in transport that are not transport planner/ modeler. Those jobs may be better suited to your skills and interest. Don’t be afraid to apply for them. ITS equips you with lots of transferable skills that will make you an ideal candidate for those positions.