UKCW 2019

NEC BIRMINGHAM   08-10 OCTOBER 2019

Diego Padilla Philipps

Diego Padilla Philipps

Structural Engineer, WSP Building Structures

My father is a civil engineer. I grew up moving around the country following him from project to project. We used to drive along the canals or roads he was building, through bridges and tunnels in the middle of the Peruvian Andes and the deserts in the north and south of the country; I felt really proud. In my free time, after school, I would jump on the drawing board and start sketching, pretending to be one of those great engineers drawing bridges and building hydroelectric power plants. Some kids had Legos to play with; I had actual clay bricks.

Living through an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Lima in 2007, and experiencing its devastating effects, motivated me to move to London to study a masters degree in Earthquake Engineering and Disaster Management at UCL, in 2009. I quickly fell in love with the city and its people. This multicultural and diverse place quickly became my home. Moving from Peru was not an easy decision; and although my parents were very supportive, I knew the last thing they wanted was to be away from their son. But they knew I was following my dreams, and they knew that London was a place to thrive.

I told my parents I was gay when I was 19, after years of struggling against myself and my own expectations to conform to the status quo and what was expected from me. Growing up in a conservative country, my biggest fear was to disappoint my family. Their response changed everything. Once I knew I had their support, nothing else mattered. My parents showed me the importance of sacrifice, service and hard work. Their example of love has led me in every step of my journey.

In 2015, after four years of work through a charity started by a friend at UCL and the support of a local NGO, we designed and re-built a school in Haiti destroyed after the devastating 2010 earthquake, raising nearly £800k to achieve this. In 2016 I became a founder member of WPS’ Diversity and Inclusion network, VIBE. I have since participated in campaigns to encourage visibility and inclusion in the workplace, promoting #BuildingEquality in construction during London Pride, and taking part in a video campaign sponsored by InterEngineering to change perceptions and promote engineering amongst the LGBT community. Currently I actively promote and share my passion for engineering on social media, and I also run university engagement programmes to inspire the next generation of structural engineers in the UK.

 

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