Experiences

Alumni experience

JOEL VAN TIEM, ALUMNUS OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

Open days. Being a “student for a day”. Lots of pens with university logos. In my final year of high school I was very busy trying to decide what to study afterward.  It wasn’t until after I’d had the opportunity to join a first-year student of Advanced Technology for a day that I thought: ‘This is what I can picture myself studying next year.’ Which is exactly what happened.

To me the programme’s main feature was the analytical and multidisciplinary approach. You learn to really analyze and comprehend complex problems.  In my second year a fellow student and I built a radio transmitter in ten weeks’ time.  While at the start of the quarter we hardly knew what an antenna was, we concluded the project hearing our music on our neighbours’ FM radio. It’s really awesome to be able to use what you’ve learned in such a direct way.

After my studies I got a job at Liander, a company that manages the electricity and natural gas grids in most of The Netherlands. My team, Market & Business Intelligence, charts future developments in the energy industry and their impact on the networks. It’s hardly a radio station, but it’s a complex problem nonetheless. I’m grateful for Advanced Technology to have taught me how to deal with this type of problems.

SVEN KRABBENBORG, ALUMNUS OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Advanced Technology, Sven Krabbenborg went on to take a Master's programme in Nanotechnology at the University of Twente. This led to four years of PhD research at Twente and a job at SURFIX BV in Wageningen where he has worked since 2014.


ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY AND MY MASTER’S DEGREE

I've always been interested in most areas of science and didn’t want to have to choose between chemistry, physics and electrical engineering. Advanced Technology gave me the opportunity to keep my options wide open while learning about the business side of things as well. The programme is not only broad based but also offers a multidisciplinary perspective and approach to practical problems. All this appealed to me greatly.

After Advanced Technology I opted for a Master’s programme in Nanotechnology. Many of the same reasons applied. In nanotechnology the multidisciplinary aspects are even more pronounced. The topics within this Master’s programme cannot be slotted into a single category; they operate at the interface between different fields.

MY DAILY ACTIVITIES AT SURFIX BV

SURFIX BV develops and produces chemical surface modification through innovative nano-coatings, usually in the form of monolayers, for the micro- and nanotechnology market. This modification enables surface properties to be changed in line with the customer’s wishes. This might be a standard nano-coating which, for example, makes a product dirt-repellent or relatively waterproof, but it might also be a custom-made nano-coating designed to achieve protein immobilization on a sensor chip.

SURFIX employs me as an R&D scientist. I am responsible for the patterns and nano-coatings on microfluidic chips. In practice, this means I'm involved in developing and delivering nano-coatings, maintaining customer relations and planning development processes. My development activities mainly focus on innovative coatings with interesting properties in relation to microfluidics and electrodes. I also focus on the development of practical and economically feasible methods to pattern existing SURFIX nano-coatings.

HOW ARE YOU USING WHAT YOU LEARNED DURING YOUR STUDIES?

I don’t use much knowledge that I learned specifically during my Bachelor’s studies. What I gained from Advanced Technology is more to do with experience: a way of thinking and working. That mode of critical and academic thinking certainly helps me do my job effectively. AT also prepares you to cope with new and complex challenges. And its multidisciplinary approach has definitely primed me for working life in the business world. The problems and developments I encounter are very often not only associated with chemistry, but related to a range of disciplines. 

MY ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

After successful completion of Advanced Technology you will be so much more professional in how you think and work, and ready to face the challenges of the future. Nowadays not even the smartest professional can tell you exactly what your working life will be like in 2030. All you can do is make sure that you are ready to cope with new developments and challenges.

RUUD MEULENBROEK, ALUMNUS OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

After finishing his Bachelor’s programme in Advanced Technology, Ruud Meulenbroek opted for a Master’s programme in Mechanical Engineering at the University Twente. Since 2012 he has been working at BTG BioLiquids in Enschede.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY AND MY MASTER’S DEGREE

I have always had a broad interest in science and technology. I was drawn to the idea behind the Bachelor’s programme in Advanced Technology: that most innovations emerge in areas where traditional disciplines like physics and chemistry overlap. I liked the notion that we should start taking a multidisciplinary approach to training our scientists and engineers, and supply them with a healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit as part of the bargain.

During my Bachelor’s programme, I discovered an interest in mechanical engineering, fluid flow and modelling. This led me to take a minor in Aeronautical Engineering and pre-Master’s courses for the Thermal Engineering specialization in the Master’s programme in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Twente. This Master’s programme has allowed me to dig deeper into these subjects and has introduced me to the world of numerical modelling, which enables engineers and scientists to solve highly complex problems.

MY DAILY ACTIVITIES

BTG BioLiquids wants to contribute to a cleaner energy supply by substituting fossil fuels with fuels from renewable sources. The pyrolysis technology we provide efficiently converts most types of non-food biomass into second-generation biofuel within seconds. This technology was originally conceived at the University of Twente and was further developed by BTG, the University of Twente’s first spin-off company. As a process engineer I am involved in designing and commissioning these pyrolysis plants, the first of which is currently under construction in the Dutch town of Hengelo.

I graduated while working at a global oil and gas company but I decided to change tack and apply to the small sustainable start-up company where I currently work. The set-up here means that there is less time to specialize in a particular subject and you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. I can be working on PR, sales, engineering and project development all in the course of a single working day!

HOW ARE YOU USING WHAT YOU LEARNED DURING YOUR STUDIES?

The thorough grounding in mathematical engineering I received at Twente really pays off when it comes to getting to the heart of an engineering problem quickly and effectively, especially when there is heat and mass transfer involved. I have even had the opportunity to put the business courses from Advanced Technology to good use. In my first year at BTG, I was asked to write the business plan for our company!

Advanced Technology really challenges you to perform at your best. It also enables you to discover which area of science and engineering you feel most passionately about so that you can start to specialize. For me it was an excellent stepping stone to a great job.

MY ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

Follow your own interests when it comes to deciding which courses to take. Go ahead and join a study or sports association. Becoming a good engineer also means that you need to develop your organizational and leadership skills.

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