Experiences

Martijn Remmelink

My name is Martijn Remmelink and I am a second-year Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) student. At the moment I am busy with the sixth module of the programme, which includes a project. For me, this project has stood out head and shoulders above the others.

The project started with an introduction from Ahrend. We had heard something about the development of this company, which designs and manufactures its own furniture. I had never heard of Ahrend before that, but it turned out to be a huge company that has furnished almost all government offices in the Netherlands, such as the DUO headquarters in Groningen and the city hall in Utrecht. During the introductory lecture, Ahrend described the project we were to do: create a smart workplace that supports both the employer and the employee in a healthy, productive, flexible and inspiring way of working.

What I liked most about this project was the different disciplines working together. I am very pleased that after all the effort we put into the project we actually came up with a very cool concept. Martijn Remmelink

This was the first time I worked in a project group that included students from outside the IEM programme. It had been almost a year since I was last placed on a project team I hadn’t chosen myself, so it felt a little odd to start the project without knowing all the team members. At the first group meeting, shortly after the introduction, it was evident that students from different programmes approached the project in very different ways. I have never had such serious brainstorming sessions as for this project. After the first few meetings, I did not feel we had made any progress. The fun thing about the sessions was that I could use my own imagination much more than I had been able to in earlier projects. For example, I learned to look at the same subject from different perspectives, something that the ID (Industrial Design) students were used to. It was impressive to see how well ID students were at drafting concepts. Of course, I knew they had taken courses on sketching, but I did not expect them to be able to convert an idea into a clear sketch within minutes. I was also impressed by how the group members complemented each other. The ID and IEM group members regularly came up with brilliant ideas. Then the Mechanical Engineering students (ME) would often tell us these ideas were technically not feasible, but could be made more realistic with a few adjustments. On one occasion, the ID and ME students came up with a brilliant concept, but the calculations carried out by IEM students proved it to be too expensive.

What I liked most about this project was the different disciplines working together. To come up with a good concept we really had to use knowledge from all the different disciplines. I am very pleased that after all the effort we put into the project we actually came up with a very cool concept.

I also think it is good that you get feedback. Each group has its own mentor, who attends every meeting at which concrete, new concepts are presented. The mentors have a clear idea of what Ahrend wants from us. For example, our study mentor advised us to look at the hype cycle for emerging technologies, because, according to him, we weren't looking far enough ahead. After studying the cycle, we did more research on changes occurring in the work place. One of our group members arranged an interview with DUO in Groningen, where they recently changed their office into a flexible workplace. She interviewed the facilitator on the problems of flex workplaces and new trends. She also went to do an interview at Achmea in Zwolle. The data this provided was very useful. With the information from the interviews and the emerging technologies hype cycle, we could work out a more concrete vision. Halfway through the module, we had a brief meeting with Ahrend, to give a short presentation and get feedback from them. At the beginning of the meeting we were a bit tense, because if Ahrend did not like our concept, we would have to start all over again. Fortunately, Ahrend was very enthusiastic when we presented our concept and explained the research we had done. That meeting showed us all how valuable each team member's background was. Before the meeting I could only do research and actively participate in the project, but afterwards, together with fellow IEM students, I was able to draw up a proper marketing plan. The ME students, in turn, could begin simulations and start worrying about tough decisions regarding the technology and materials we were to use. The ID students immediately started designing our concept and began to think about the interactive document.

To me, the best part of the module was the different perspectives with which each students from different programmes approached the project. I think I learned a lot from those perspectives, and I really liked the fact that it always led to deeper understanding – for example, when I thought that additional brainstorming sessions would be useless or when I didn't understand certain parts of the SolidWorks software.

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