Puteri Paramita

Puteri Paramita

ITS is the best school to learn more about transportation, to meet new friends from all over the world and experience British education. It was truly rewarding and an unforgettable experience, studying at ITS and living in Leeds. I would say, "It was an investment for my future". The student life, the teaching style and the culture are very different from Singapore (where I studied for my first degree), we were encouraged to give our opinions, ask questions and discuss within our lectures.

My advice to students interested in this course would be to go for it. If you are unsure, go browse and quickly scan the modules. No one says it is going to be easy, but it is truly rewarding. When I moved back to Singapore after getting my MSc I found a new me with a new spirit for life and new friends and contacts from all over the world.

After my MSc I worked as a Transport Planning Consultant for Aecom in Singapore. I was exposed to various real-life projects, working alongside experts in the field. I fell in love with transport demand management, travel behaviour, and transit oriented development. Then in 2013, I considered different lifestyle choices and decided to pursue a higher degree in transport.  I dropped my comfortable lifestyle and went back to being a graduate student on a very tight scholarship.  I applied for a PhD at Leeds and at Queensland University of Technology and was offered a place by both. I found a supervisor in Queensland with a PhD project that best suited my interests “Comprehensively Understanding Urban Transport Mode Choice: Integrating Socio-economic Profile, Revealed Travel Behaviour, Perceptions, and Stated Preferences”.

PhD life is far more adventurous than I thought. It is not just about the research. Challenges are coming daily in different forms and sources. The university provided enormous facilities and activities that supported my study and professional development. The other thing is to be pro-active in joining all sorts of different workshops and networking events. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend 3-days teaching training.

In 2017 I took a month’s leave and embarked on an impromptu solo journey to Colombia. I was told Medellin has the best public transport system - one which caters for people of different social status, and which enhances citizens’ living conditions. I was very sceptical because throughout my studies I never heard this city mentioned in any lecture or textbook. However, I decided to travel there simply to explore what I had been told.

On my own without any real Spanish speaking capability, I arrived in the beautiful city of Medellin. It was really amazing with a well-connected public transport network, especially so as a developing country. The city is in the valley and cable car networks are built for the hilly areas, which connect to the flat areas with monorails and metro rails; all journeys have an integrated payment system. I believe Medellin deserves to be referenced in any transport textbook or lecture. Maybe, one day, when I am able to master Spanish, I will get a chance to learn about how Medellin authorities manage to plan, build, and maintain the metro cable car networks. It is really interesting to learn and consider what we can apply to other cities around the world.

My PhD thesis in 2018 was titled “Modelling Commuters’ Mode Choice: Integrating Travel Behaviour, Stated Preferences, Perception, and Socio-economic Profile. My research investigated the mode choice behaviour of commuters by utilising the nationwide survey of commuters in Australia and employing the state-of-the-art multinomial logit models.

I also joined an internship with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) to work on the state-of-the-art project titled “QFES Futures Service Demand Forecasting Model". I was focused on engaging with the main stakeholders and building effective working connections across the various parts of the project. This five-month project helped me to gain confidence, develop transferable skills and understand commercial imperatives. The experience exceeded my expectations. Read more here.

Later in 2018, I moved to Canada to work with the University of Manitoba Transport Information Group (UMTIG) alongside groups of transport engineering graduate students. UMTIG has a long-standing partnership with the provincial government to manage and operate “Manitoba Highway Traffic Information System (MHTIS)” This has been a valuable and unique opportunity to expand my research expertise and networks, especially in a North American context.

Although it is mainly for university students interested in transportation engineering, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter committee invited me to join and it has been a fun and enriching experience to participate in its events. They strive to improve transportation safety and awareness in the community through various public service activities. Specifically, ITE is involved in four main areas: (1) technical activities, (2) professional involvement, (3) public service, and (4) social events and fundraisers.

My current limited number of scientific publications and conference experience make my efforts to find further research opportunities a little bit more challenging than others. Instead of having negative outlooks, I decided to use these adversities as an extra motivation to work harder in finding and making opportunities for myself and, hopefully, for other early-career researchers alike. I am here to assist you if you ever need any guidance.