At the young pivotal age of 25, Bermudian Civil Engineer Ricardo Graham-Ward, has embarked on a life-changing venture, that marks a big step into his future career path at the Ministry of Public Works.
Last night he set out to spend the next year in training “alongside some of the top bridge experts in the UK”, to become the first Bermudian expert in new world class bridge maintenance.
In an exclusive Bermuda Real interview, we asked this young man, whose family hails from Sandys Parish, to chart his course on a journey that started at childhood, building things as a little boy with Leggo blocks.
He is the son of Christopher and Roxzine Graham-Ward, who also have a daughter, Ricardo’s sister, Kristina Graham-Ward.
His passion for building things, by deeply examining how they were physically built and structured, would lead him to summer jobs at the Ministry, as a student for five years.
That was eight years ago in 2010, in 2015 he accepted a full-time position where he currently works as a trainee civil engineer, specializing in structural engineering.
This week he set out on what he described as a training mission that’s a whole new venture that will be the experience of a lifetime.
“This project started after inspections were done on the existing Swing Bridge and Longbird Bridge. Due to high levels of corrosion on the bridges it was recommended that the bridges be replaced.
“Soon after a feasibility study of bridge options for the new bridges was put out to tender.
“My secondment was built into the tender documents for the new bridges and the quality of my learning throughout the secondment played a role in the evaluation matrix of bids,” said Mr Graham-Ward.
“I was pleased to hear that the contract was finalized because it not only meant that Bermuda would get two new world class bridges, but it also meant that I would gain extremely useful experience from being part of the engineering team behind the bridge structures.”
He noted that “structural engineers are trained to understand, predict and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of built structures”.
“In my role I am responsible for carrying out design calculations, creating engineering drawings, inspecting site work and coordinating contract administration documents for various government projects throughout Bermuda.”
Asked how he ended up deciding to go into this line of work, he said: “The interest started at an early age. When I was younger, I was always fascinated by science and was keen to understand how various systems worked.
“I enjoyed creating small scale models using Leggo pieces, although it wasn’t until I was older that this interest shifted to real world structures.
“When I was in high school I completed a PACE night class at Bermuda College on AutoCAD. This is a computer aided design software package that is used to create engineering and architectural drawings.
“Coming from a family composed of real estate agents and architectural designers who frequently use the software, I was aware of its existence and was always interested in learning how to use it.
“The PACE night class was very helpful in teaching the fundamentals of how to use the programme to communicate engineering designs,” said Mr Graham-Ward.
“After considering my strengths in high school, I determined that I was strong in mathematics, and various sciences and that I also thoroughly enjoyed art. I looked into structural engineering because this field presents both creative and technical challenges.
“With a specialty chosen I researched the Bermuda job market to verify if there was a demand for the specialty. It turned out that at the time there was a very high demand in Bermuda for competent Bermudian engineers.
“Immediately following my high school graduation at Saltus Grammar School, I pursued and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Loughborough University in 2014 and a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Southampton in 2015.
“Since then I have had the opportunity to work on major projects including the America’s Cup land reclamation, the St George’s Swing Bridge repairs, the Bermuda Airport Redevelopment project and I will now get the chance to work on the structural engineering of the two new proposed bridges.”
Public Works Minister, Colonel David Burch added: “It is vitally important that our young people research what jobs are available – especially those held by work permit holders.
“This Ministry is a leader in this area in that four Bermudians who were trainees in the Ministry when I served here a decade ago are now in middle management positions – Kirk Outerbridge – Manager of Tynes Bay, Sudell Joseph – Senior Estates Surveyor, Tarik Christopher – Principal Engineer – Water and Remy Subair – Principal Electrical Engineer.”
The Minister also noted: “The plan for Ricardo was already in train before I arrived at the Ministry but I enthusiastically embraced it and ensured that the next phase of bridge design was approved by Cabinet, so that he can take advantage of this opportunity with Ramboll UK.
“As a fellow Bermudian – it simply gives me incredible joy to play a small part in helping bright young Bermudians reach their full potential.”
Asked what he hopes to get out of it, he replied: “Working on these bridges will be a great opportunity to further my knowledge in structural engineering.
“Living on such a small island, it is rare to get the opportunity to further my knowledge in the structural engineering of new bridges.
“I will be working alongside some of the top bridge experts in the UK and will try my best to absorb as much knowledge as I can with regard to best practices in bridge engineering.
When asked what he felt he would bring back to the table after this new training, he said: “Bridge engineering expertise is a rare specialty in Bermuda.
“I look forward to using the knowledge gained whilst on secondment to help ensure that the bridges are designed, constructed and maintained correctly; to make certain that the bridges achieve their full service life.
With all that’s going on in Bermuda with young Black males, we asked what would he say to any young Black male about the importance of charting a course early in life through higher learning, he gave us a list for young people generally.
“My advice to young Bermudians would be to:
- Find your passion. It is important to enjoy what you do, especially if it is something that you will be spending the majority of your adult life doing.
- Assess the job market. It is equally important to assess the local job market to align your passion with a suitable job role.
- Network with professionals in the field that you want to enter. Who you know is just as important as what you know.
- Feature Photos Courtesy of DCI
- Family Photo Courtesy of Ricardo Graham-Ward
A Real Genuine Pleasure to Meet You, Congratulations & Do Well!
Ceola Wilson – Bermuda Real