At just 37 years old Trevon Joseph says he has already fulfilled his goal of attaining a doctorate in engineering (DEng) before age 40.
Joseph, “a village boy” from Paramin graduated from the University of Oxford, November 1, this year. He is the first recipient of an engineering doctorate (DEng) conferred at the university in a century. The university bestowed its very first award for a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in 1919 and the DEng in 2019.
“It will go down in history for that,” Joseph told Catholic News via phone.
“I do feel proud…honestly what’s going through my mind now is that I’m able to do this and its been a very difficult ride…I wanted to represent my family, my village, Trinidad, the Caribbean…it was a big deal.”
Another impressive facet of Joseph’s accomplishment is that he and Dr Eric Williams, the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago—who attained his Doctor of Philosophy degree at Oxford in 1938—both graduated from the same building—the Sheldonian Theatre.
“It was one of those events that you don’t really forget because you put so much effort into the last few years and you sacrifice time with family, friends, loved ones…just to more or less to do something that you want to do for yourself,” Joseph said, when asked to share his thoughts of the historic achievement.
He stressed that though it was no easy task, just “noting where we come from and where we represent”, to come to a foreign country and be accepted into an Oxford University programme, was “surreal”.
“So, I think that by itself gave me…I would say an incentive to complete it but at the same time it added an additional level of stress. You couldn’t fail because you have all these people depending on you….
I just want to be able to tell everyone who would read this that no matter where you come from, they can achieve whatever they put their mind to…the tools or the ingredients are hard work, persistence and prayer,” he said.
Joseph was among four students pursuing a doctorate in the offshore geotechnical engineering programme in 2014. While many ambitious students can only dream of studying at a prestigious, world-renowned university like Oxford, a strong work ethic, enthusiasm, aptitude and perseverance are critical.
He explained, “If they [the University] realise after one year you can’t make the work, they kick you out.”
They had four years to complete the programme. One student, he said “was struck out”, while the other had “some issue with payment”.
Ultimately, Joseph was the only student who completed his doctoral thesis on Offshore Wind.
“I did not come from a rich background,” Joseph asserted. He explained he attended Woodbrook Secondary and Queen’s Royal College. He later studied civil engineering at the John Donaldson ‘John D’ Technical Institute (UTT). Here he said, he spent “the best years” of his life.
Next, he pursued a Bachelor’s in civil engineering at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
Joseph, a Catholic, admits though he’s a “perfectionist” and he got his commendable work ethic from his father, Carlton Joseph.
He got his first scholarship in 2007 to a university in Europe. When he attained his master’s degree, he secured a job in the United Kingdom after arriving there in 2009.
Joseph shared while he did not have family in the UK, he had friends and a fiancé. His parents would visit once a year. Sometimes, he said, his father would remind him “This is what you are doing it for Trevon…I know its hard but just crack on.” Both parents were present for his graduation.
Sometime in 2020, Trevon has plans to return to his homeland on a mission. He hopes to influence authority that renewable energy is cleaner and they only way ahead for the “betterment of mankind”.
He shared that in some places, including parts of Europe, governments have pioneered the study of offshore wind engineering while other countries are starting “to catch up”.
Joseph observed that most countries, including T&T, are not contributing to the construction or the use of renewable energy sources to provide electricity that the country needs.
The European Union passed strict laws that ensure countries use a certain percentage of renewable energy sources by a certain date, otherwise, “they get fined” he said.
Overall, he said if countries were to invest in solar their contribution would be enough to supply a large percentage of their energy requirements from renewable energy sources.
“Trinidad has a lot of wind and a lot of sunlight…because of that…it does not make any sense not to capitalise on that…use some of that, capture it and convert it to electricity so you wouldn’t be using oil and gas to spin turbines to produce electricity. There’s a lot of blackouts that occur, one of the reasons is when the demand for electricity surpasses the supply,” he said.
So, what’s next for Joseph? Well, he told Catholic News, he has plans to one day write a book on his doctoral thesis.
By Kaelanne Jordan