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Earlier this year, when we launched our new UITP Scholarship programme, we were delighted to receive an impressive number of applicants from all corners of the globe.
Our five winning Scholars have now started their courses, showcasing their passion for urban mobility.
Our new scholars come from India, Brazil, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and the Philippines, highlighting the global reach of UITP and our sector.
Last month, we started to get to know them all a little bit better with the first in our series of interviews, finding out what inspired them to apply and what they hope to learn along the way.
Up first, we met Joemier Pontawe, from the Department of Transportation in the Philippines. Thank you again to Joemier for his thoughtful words.
Q: Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and your career so far?
My name is Mariana Thebit, and I’m an architect urbanist. My first contact with transportation engineering was in 2008, on an internship I did in a consulting company in Brazil. At this first contact I learned about road design and signalisation and city’s master plans. As this was my first internship, after a year I decide to have other experiences in different areas of architecture, to be sure that this was the area that I want to work in in the future. I kept doing some punctual works in transportation areas, for different consulting companies.
In my last year of college, I decided to get back in to the transport area doing another internship now focused in mobility plans, traffic studies and simulation. In 2012 I finished my graduation in architecture and was hired as a project analyst. Although I learned a lot in practice, I felt that I needed to learn more about the conceptual aspects of traffic and transportation. For that reason, I quit my job in 2015 to do a master’s degree in transport engineering.
During my master studies I did more consulting works for different firms, and in 2019 I started to work for the Union of Public Transit Operators of the State of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil doing transport planning, road design, and other studies for buses companies. In August 2021 I started to work at Optibus, a SaaS company that offers a platform to optimise the operation of public transport.
Q: Your studies have began with UITP and you’re currently taking part in the first of your courses – Artificial Intelligence – what interested you in the topics you have chosen to study?
Working for public transit operators allowed me to understand more about it’s complexity. In Brazil, in most of the cities public transport doesn’t receive any financial help from the government and must be maintained only with passenger tickets sales. The companies also face a demand drop, that was emphasised with the pandemics.
In view of the above, I believe Artificial Intelligence applies to data treatments and to the optimisation of operational aspects, and can help the public transport operators to reduce costs and offer a better service to the passengers. I also believe that the future of public transport is in the use of cutting-edge technologies applied to its planning and operation. These were the main reasons why I chose this topic.
I always wanted to do UITP courses…the Scholarship has offered me this opportunity.
Q: Our Scholarship is all about giving new opportunities to the next generation of public transport leaders. What are your hopes for your own career moving forward?
I would like to become a good reference and gain good knowledge in transport planning and to keep working with companies and operators that help to enhance public transport in my country and abroad. I believe that public transport is the best choice for urban mobility and the most democratic transportation mode, so for that reason, I would like to become a professional that helps it to keep improving. I also think about becoming a teacher in the future, so that I can share the knowledge that I had the opportunity to gain.
Q: When you learned about our new Scholarship, what drew you to apply?
I always wanted to do UITP courses, but with the devaluation of the Real I couldn’t make the necessary investment needed. The Scholarship offered me an opportunity to do the courses that I wanted and learn more about public transport.
Q: At this stage what do you hope to learn from your UITP Scholarship? We’ll be checking back in with you when you graduate!
I hope to learn more about public transport, having a more global view of it and not a local one, as I have now. I also hope to have contact with operators and researchers all over the world and to become up-to-date with the best practices in the area, as well as to learn some specific aspects as to the use of new technologies.
Thank you to Mariana for her time and her dedication to advancing her career!
All our scholars arehighly motivated and ambitious to learn more about the sector…and UITP is looking forward to helping them develop their careers.
Stay tuned to hear more from our other Scholars going forward.