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Preparing you for the real world Why is working on socio-technical problems such a big part of ATLAS?

ATLAS stands out because it has a different educational philosophy than most bachelors. If you compare ATLAS to the other university colleges in the Netherlands, it does not have the traditional liberal arts and sciences for which this kind of interdisciplinary education is normally famous. ATLAS adds something extra: Technology, engineering, and social sciences are combined. The program recognizes the importance of each of these domains in modern society. One of the most important forms in which ATLAS connects these three different fields of science is with the semester project.  

ATLAS is a three-year educational program which contains of six semesters, each of them linked to a theme that determines the type of project it contains. For the first semester, this is ‘Humans and Movement’. The first-year students are split up in groups of five people and develop a product-service system (PSS) that solves a socio-technical problem for a specific target group. These consist of both a tangible product side and a nontangible service side that needs to be organized in such a way to boost the quality of life, ranging from situations to increase convenience is added, to really urgent problems. 

This year, a group developed the PSS called G-Lake. Due to the lack of visibility in the water of a lot of German lakes, drowning is a serious problem. They came up with the idea to create a safety-bracelet for people above the age of 60 that will be rented out. The bracelet has GPS and a balloon attached to a string, to locate a person in need of help. This would reduce the time between someone needing and receiving help, once the product has been implemented.  

Another group came up with Power Swap, which is a PSS that offers people a solution to the problem of having an empty smartphone on the go. Power Swap entails a power stand where customers can exchange empty power banks for fully charged ones. It would be available in public spaces, like train stations, city centres, festivals et cetera. This offers people the possibility to keep doing their daily activities, while having a charged smartphone.

There was also a group who chose to make a product-service system to counteract anti-social interaction. Certain individuals with social anxiety, depression or other social disorders find it hard to create and maintain social connections. Therefore, they designed the Luna lamp. The Luna lamp helps with creating and maintaining a close social relation by means of games, chat rooms and a way to convey any individual’s mood by including several technological features that aim to assist in the creation and development of bonds between members of a group or community.

There are a lot of benefits linked to doing project work during your bachelor. To start with, ATLAS students learn how to combine multiple learning techniques at once like logical deduction, research and iterative learning (trial and error) which is really useful when solving a complex problem which requires an answer that is not one-sided. Furthermore, it also enhances communication skills since it requires students to work together. These skills are necessary for the new engineers that the first years will grow to become. They will work on real world problems by their gained knowledge on interdisciplinary projects. On top of all these academic benefits, it is also simply really fun and interesting to do! Join one of our in-sight days to experience project-based learning yourself!  

University College Twente offers a unique bachelor’s programme, Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences, to top students. Visit the University College Twente website for more information about the college and Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences website for more information about the bachelor program. Or visit us during the open day, a student-for-a-day or an insight-day.

Lieke van de Donk
Writer, class of 2020
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