MEDELLIN, Colombia — A 104-year-old University of Manchester student who was too busy to finish his PhD, has finally completed his dissertation.

Lucio “Chiquito” Caicedo credits the Covid-19 lockdown for giving him the time to finish his thesis, which is currently being evaluated. If approved, he will earn his doctorate title.

Caicedo was born in Cali, Colombia, in May 1916, where he lived for 84 years before moving to Medellin, the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province.

He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the National University of Colombia at Medellin, then earned a master’s degree in Science and Technology from the University of Manchester in England seven decades ago. He has been working on his PhD thesis for 30 years.

A complicated math problem needed to be solved before his thesis could be finished. That happened this year, allowing him to send the document to the university.

Lucio Chiquito Caicedo with his thesis. Chiquito founded several important companies in Colombia, such as Empresas Publicas de Medellin, Camacol, and Integral S.A. (Photo by @luciochiquito104/Newsflash)

“My PhD is about determining the maximum amount of water that can be sustainably taken from a river for energy and other purposes,” Caicedo said.

He admits the COVID-19 lockdown allowed him to focus solely on his research; it was his way of making the best of the situation. However, he is a little worried about how long the evaluation might take: “The last time I submitted something, it took 25 months for the subject discussion, and I had to write around 170 emails clarifying my points of views.”

Chiquito founded several important companies in Colombia, such as Empresas Publicas de Medellin (Public Companies of Medellin), Camacol, and Integral S.A.

When he was 73, he wrote to the University of Manchester for further study — and was accepted.

Four years ago, he was awarded the Don Juan del Corral Merit of Order in the gold category for his commitment and contribution to the progress of Antioquia.

Chiquito has six children with his wife, who died five years ago, 12 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

He was married for 67 years, and he told local press that “family has been my biggest achievement.”


(Edited by Fern Siegel and David Matthew)

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