The story of Koen de Jong

Firms like Witteveen+Bos play an important role in the digitalisation of the construction world. This process started off slowly but is now underway across the whole industry. Many positive developments have already taken place but there is still a lot to do, develop and gain. Digitalisation forms a large component of our work; it allows us to perform ‘standard’ tasks much more efficiently and focus instead on the really interesting questions – the complex and essential problems.

Sometimes we can sense some reservation, in both colleagues and clients, when it comes to automation. Personally, I’ve been making use of it for around six years and see it as an indispensable tool for the modern engineer. While working on a large land reclamation project in Indonesia, I was looking for ways to organise my work as efficiently as possible. A friend suggested I try Python and I was instantly sold. I now use Python and similar resources for just about all my work (project and otherwise), and I can honestly say it has significantly increased how much pleasure I derive from what I do.

Our programming is based on content. This produces software that’s fit for purpose and also ensures quality control: if the code produces a poor design solution, an engineer knowledgeable in the field will see it right away – a programmer may not. That’s also the strength of Witteveen+Bos. Our current design methodology is always the starting point; we’re very pragmatic and aim for direct results that align with the real issue in the design process.

I’ve got loads more ideas for improving our systems and providing added value, but finding suitable business cases to line them all up with is a challenge. And then to actually put it on the market? For a while now we’ve had internal support for that at Witteveen+Bos. But it remains difficult to determine which plan – from among the many ideas there are – is actually going to create added value.

I was involved in the +Transistor2020 digital talent programme, which aims to create digitally capable professionals. In 2020, together with colleague Rina Clemens, I established a pilot programme for digital talent development within Deltas, Coasts and Rivers. Rina works in a very structured way; I prefer quick and dirty. That proved to be a good combination. Following a survey on learning needs, it became apparent that a significant need existed for training courses on digitalisation. Together with Anne Verheijen, we developed an offering of fifteen different courses – both with internal trainers and e-learning courses. The willingness of colleagues to take others along on their digital journey was commendable; we had no trouble finding trainers. We’re now looking into the possibility of offering these courses company-wide, with appropriate adjustments to the specific learning needs of each sector. Incredibly fun to be a part of. 

'I was involved in the +Transistor2020 digital talent programme, which aims to create digitally capable professionals.'

- Koen de Jong -

More information?