Fernando Colom Jover

Fernando Colom Jover

Graduate engineer

Country: Bolivia

Specialisms: Disaster relief, design, structural

Career highlights

How I became a civil engineer

You’re probably sitting inside a warm dry building right now reading this thanks to the work of civil engineers who provided structural advice and masterminded the provision of your water, power and communications systems.

I’ve always been passionate about aesthetics and function – the twin pillars of engineering. Structures and infrastructure need to be understood. The aesthetics come naturally to many people but the ability to see new ways to make things function and solve problems can be learned through teaching and practice.

During my studies at the University of Alicante I did a few exchange programmes and internships in Europe. One of the most interesting was my stay in Germany, collaborating on a project to develop concrete structures internally reinforced with composites (fibre reinforced plastics), instead of steel.

In January 2017, after completing my master’s degree in civil engineering, I joined Bridges to Prosperity as a Bridge Corps Fellow. It was time to travel to Bolivia, my new home, to join the country team and start building to bridge the gap between isolated communities and development.

So now I’m raising my third pillar: humanitarianism. Solving essential service problems as a qualified problem-solver.

"It’s an amazing experience to design and build a suspended footbridge because of those people – for them and with them. "

"It’s an amazing experience to design and build a suspended footbridge because of those people – for them and with them. "

My working day

Being involved in bridge projects for giving access to isolated communities is quite different from most engineering schemes.

We are not dealing here with structures for making the developed more developed, the impressive more impressive, nor the famous more famous…

On any day the phone in the office may ring, the community leader may show up, or someone may approach us during a visit for another project. “We need a bridge, please, help us,” they say. Thousands of reasons might follow but one sums it all up: the water is too high for crossing the river without risking lives.

After countless hours of driving, thinking about what the site might look like, you get to the community hopefully with your stomach empty. Food is most likely waiting for you, for the locals to show their gratitude and you can’t say no.

From then on there are just few things on your mind: hoping the project is technically feasible and imagining the people crossing the bridge in few months. It’s an amazing experience to design and build a suspended footbridge because of those people – for them and with them.

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Civil engineering is fun. It’s a non-zero sum game where the aim is to make the world a better place to live. Your tools are both the knowledge you gain from your studies and professional career and the materials. You and your team play with them to solve problems in an efficient way

Fernando Colom Jover

Graduate engineer

Education

I did a civil engineering degree at the University of Alicante together with an internship in a construction company for four months followed by a further six months studying in Budapest.

After that I spent two years gaining a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Alicante, together with a two month traineeship in an institute of engineering in Germany in my first year, and then a six month part-time contract at the same institute during the second year.

Once I graduated for the second time I joined NGO Bridges to Prosperity.

Some of my interests link with my day job as a civil engineer: sociology, aesthetics, nature and volunteering, and I’ve got a special interest in innovative lightweight structures.

I also love reading, travelling, playing futsal (a special kind of five aside football played on a hard court) and meeting people.

I want to become a civil engineer.

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