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Sebastian Castellanos

I currently work as an Associate at the World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, where I help governments in Latin America and the Caribbean with low carbon transport technology implementation. This ranges from the hardware aspects of technology (for example helping governments understand what electric vehicles are and how they can help them in their policy goals) up to more “soft” components of technology, such as helping governments develop policies and economic instruments to make sure the hardware can be implemented in their countries. I am the lead researcher for the project and am responsible for project delivery working alongside a multidisciplinary and multicultural team based in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Washington DC.

WRI is a research institution, and as such, is extremely rigorous in the work they produce. Every product WRI delivers has to be top quality, new, peer-reviewed research. The experience at ITS helped me understand how the academic work in the transport field functions, and by providing me with a “hands-on” experience in this academic field, prepared me extremely well for the work I’m doing right now. Being lucky enough to have met and worked with some extremely smart and thorough researchers such as James Tate, Frances Hodgson, Susan Grant-Muller and Greg Marsden at ITS has helped me in understanding the importance of solid, applied research. My choice of Transport Planning and the Environment as a programme also helped me get into the environmental aspect of transport, which had been lacking in my previous work experience. Without this choice, it would have been hard for me to work at WRI.

I chose Transport Planning and the Environment because I am aware of the importance of the environment in the future of mankind. I needed to feel that the work I do has a positive impact in the world. For me, this Masters course was the logical next step in my career which had led me through technical experience in the transport planning field, but was lacking experience in the environmental component of it.

I couldn’t have made a better choice for the programme. The Transport Planning and the Environment teachers are doing extremely interesting research that is very relevant in today’s transport and environment discussions. James Tate’s pollution research, for example, is extremely interesting and relevant, and what is best, being applied in real life.

The transport sector is extremely rewarding for people that want to give back something to the world and want to see that their work is making a difference in other people’s lives. It is also very challenging and deals with many different components of humans: including behaviour, technology, modelling, and perceptions. Every day in the transport planning sector is different from the previous one.

The highlight of my career so far is seeing the work I had worked on for 3 years on electronic tolling being adopted by the Colombian government.

My advice would to ITS international students who are seeking work in the transport sector is that securing a job internationally would be hard unless that person already has some work experience. I would suggest building up at least 3-5 years of work experience locally before starting to look for work abroad. ITS is very well viewed between consulting companies, and the work in these firms can be very interesting and can help build a solid hands-on experience after the MSc. The public sector is also a good choice with ITS graduates and can give good insights into policymaking.