Maria José Aparecida Solo

Maria graduated from MSc Urban Design and International Planning in 2020 and now works as Assistant Civil Aviation Safety Oversight Inspector at Civil Aviation Authority of Angola (CAA Angola).

On choosing my course

The University of Manchester is indeed a world-class university, but I chose Urban Design and International Planning (UDIP) master's for its detailed structure and a very responsive admissions officer who helped me to make an informed decision by introducing me to student life and other resources available at university: funding opportunities, accommodations, academic life and culture.

Additionally, I knew that I would have access to an exceptional and vibrant academic, scientific, and professional community.

On my career development

I currently work as Assistant Inspector for Aerodromes and Ground Aids (AGA) for matters related to:

  • Aerodrome planning and design
  • Aerodrome certification
  • Obstacle restrictions
  • Visual ground aids
  • Aerodrome Rescue and firefighting
  • Airport construction works
  • Airport master planning
  • Land use
  • Testing and evaluating airport pavements
  • Frangibility requirements for visual and non-visual aids
  • Runway surface unevenness
  • Airport operational services

I never thought I would end up on the Civil Aviation path, but I am glad I did. Definitely, my course and time at Manchester helped to influence the decision to continue in the civil aviation field. After completion of my course, I realized, even more, the importance to promote synergy between cities and airports as highlighted in a 2018 report from ICAO (International Civil Aviation) and UN-Habitat.

During my masters I had the chance to explore urban design issues from Luanda (Angola), understand its planning system roots and relate it to land use in airport safety zone areas, especially in my dissertation where I had the freedom to explore urban dynamics and airport development in Luanda city, under Prof. Dr Nuno Pinto’s supervision, for which I am very thankful.

On my learnings

One of the most surprising takeaways from my course was that, as a background as a civil engineer, I realised that an urban designer read cities from a complete, integrated and different perspective and that the current planning system in place in several countries has a lot to do with their initial roots and is essential to have this in account when designing new neighbourhood, cities or developing urban plans. This takeaway has been essential for my job, to apply a recent recommendation from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for its contracting States, to implement a master plan for long-term development of airports by November 3, 2022.

On my advice for prospective students

Firstly, be ready to live one of the best times of your life! Manchester is a vibrant and very welcoming city for students so make sure to take time to get to know the city and its culture.

At University, feel free to be a part of open day events, go for campus tours, visit all libraries (especially Muriel Stott Learning Centre inside the Main Library), be a part of international societies, be a volunteer, be aware of all available discounts and resources that give access to renowned scientific research journals and the unique Manchester library databases. In case you need, seek for mental health services or career support at University.

Any course from Manchester’s Faculty of Humanities will give you the chance to get to know students from other courses and learn from their experiences. You will never be the same after Manchester so be happy, be excellent!