Name: Alejandro Caicedo Ramirez
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
Advisor: Mark Hernandez
My Path to Engineering
I was born in Colombia in 1988. When I was 7 years old, my parents decided to move to Barcelona (Spain) in search for a better life. This decision opened many educational doors that could otherwise may have remained closed. Since I can remember, I have always wanted to find the reason for things, with a special emphasis in chemical reactions and biological phenomena. My curious nature lead me to pursue a university degree in chemical engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. There, I came to appreciate the key role water and wastewater treatment has in our daily life and how important it is for social, environmental, and economic progress. After graduation, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in biotechnology at the University of Barcelona in order to better understand microbes and microbiological processes relevant to water treatment.
In 2012, Spain was in the middle of a deep economic crisis. Having just graduated from my master’s degree, my professional options were limited. While I had the option to find a job in Europe, I also believed I could still learn and be better prepared to face wastewater treatment challenges if I decided to pursue a PhD in civil/environmental engineering. Then a “once in a lifetime” opportunity came along: the possibility to conduct graduate studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. This opportunity came in the form of the Balsells Fellowship, a program created between the Government of Catalonia, CU Boulder and the Balsells Foundation to offer students from Catalonia the opportunity to conduct graduate level studies in the engineering field. Since that moment, I have been a PhD student in civil/environmental engineering at CU Boulder.
Why CU Boulder?
The environmental engineering program at CU ranks among the best in the nation and worldwide. The faculty are truly concerned for the student’s success and the research topics tend to be multidisciplinary and applied, factors that I considered key for my future as a professional engineer.
Pursuing a PhD at CU has been the best experience in my life. Academically speaking, I love the facilities, resources available, and the productive collaboration between research groups. Also, the faculty and staff are exceptional and engaging. Personally speaking, I love the diverse international community, the outdoors and sports culture, and the strong environmental awareness of Boulder.