The University of Southampton
Engineering and the EnvironmentPostgraduate study

Aditya Tafta Nugraha MSc Transportation Planning and Engineering, 2014

PhD Student

Aditya Tafta Nugraha's Photo

Transport is not only about civil engineering; it integrates knowledge from various areas such as geography, economy, urban planning, management, and even politics! It is really fascinating and I’ve enjoyed discovering it as my passion.

Can you provide a brief summary of your time at Southampton?

The city is a conducive place to study. There are plenty of things to do but it’s not so overwhelming that you are distracted from your studies. My course was arranged so that I only had classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 5. I found this really great in terms of time management. I used the remaining weekdays to complete my coursework.

Study well in class and during the week so you can travel during the weekends and holidays as Southampton is a great base to see the best parts of UK. The New Forest, Isle of Wight, Winchester, Bournemouth, and Portsmouth are amazing and they are all just around the corner. If you go a bit further, you can travel to the ever vibrant London, beautiful Brighton and The Seven Sisters, or the wonderful beaches in Dorset and Cornwall. The Christmas and Easter holidays are a good time to explore somewhere further.

The summer was a bit more difficult because you have to do your dissertation, and because there are no more classes and you don’t see your course mates quite as often, you can sometimes feel alone. However, your supervisor will be there to help you pull through. I was able to choose my own dissertation project and it was nominated for the Voorhes-Large Prize and won the Atkins Prize for excellence in MSc Transport Dissertation.

What was the highlight of your time as a Southampton student?

I would have to say the highlight of my time as a student is meeting such wonderful people. I still have regular contact with my course mates from the UK, China, Ecuador, Nigeria, and India. The class is very diverse and it really opens your eyes to the different things happening in the world. I also made friends through some of the many societies that the university has.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

I really enjoyed getting into my field of study. I was a bit concerned because my background was in engineering management and not civil engineering. But I found that transport is not only about civil engineering; it integrates knowledge from various areas such as geography, economy, urban planning, management, and even politics! It is really fascinating and I’ve really enjoyed discovering it as my passion.

The University of Southampton has a reputation of producing highly relatable alumni and I found this to be true, at least in the field of transportation. Before starting my PhD I had an internship in Mott MacDonald as Transport Modeller and an employment in Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, an NGO in transportation. The skills and knowledge I’ve gained from the MSc course are highly applicable. They help me to perform professionally and also provide a basic platform to help me learn new things from these institutions.

What were your supervisors like? Did you find them supportive?

Very supportive! They are very knowledgeable and always provide me with useful guidance, and yet they also give me enough flexibility so that I can grow both as a student and as a researcher. They let me develop my own project and methodology and help me explore the field with their useful hints. Most importantly, they know just the right things to say to get me motivated. One time, one of them said: “doing your research is like being a detective; you search for clues in the literature world which will lead you to subsequent information which will ultimately help you solve your case,” and I was really into Sherlock Holmes at the time! Although this particular example might be a coincidence, there are many other instances where they are proven to be very observant. They know their students well and know how to push them to achieve their full potential.

How did the facilities available at the University help you with your research and project work?

The University has many high-spec computers that students can use for their project. The library, computer lab in B25, and Boldrewood Campus are very comfortable places to work for me. The University’s subscription to numerous journals is essentials to the success of my research.

What did you think of the other facilities on campus?

There are many catering services providing different sorts of food at reasonable prices, from the all-day-breakfast and burger meals at the Café, and international menu that changes every day at The Piazza. These places offer good choices for those with special dietary requirements. The chicken dishes sold at The Shop are Halal, so I have plenty of choices. There are also prayer rooms in Highfield, Boldrewood, and NOC campuses so it is easy for me to practice my religion during the course.

In what ways does the course you took at Southampton help you within your PhD?

In many ways, but most importantly is that it has helped me get to know my potential supervisors and then allow me to make an informed decision of who I want to work with. I already know my supervisors, so I know how to work with them and that I enjoy working with them.

What are your career ambitions?

I want to be an expert in sustainable transportation. My vision is to enable economically vibrant cities and communities without the environmental and social problems associated with the high reliance on automobile.

What advice would you offer to potential MSc students?

Enjoy every moment that you are here. It’s a very good MSc programme, although the classes, coursework, and exams might feel intense at times. Look at them as means to develop your skills, and complete them to the best of your ability; be eager in classes, do your best with your coursework and exams. It might sound obvious but you will really value what you get from the course.

As important as the academic aspect is, you have to remember that it is only a one-year program. Get to know your course mates and your lecturers. Making a good connection with them will not only help your future career (I got an internship through one of the part-time students at his place of work, and it really was an amazing experience) but it will also make your life so much better during the program. You have to hit the ground running with this, because it is only one year, you make good friends and before you know it you’ll have to say goodbye, so cherish your time with them!

 

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