Modules of the design track

Manhattan project

The Manhattan project was the first great project that was carried out in the US. Its goal was to make an atomic bomb that could be used in the war. This weapon was used in fact, as you know on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Manhattan Project had a special historical setting: there was war and people feared that the Germans would be able to finish an atomic bomb before their defeat. It is about a fearsome weapon – there are deep ethical questions associated with it. How did the engineers and scientists deal with these questions? What did the public think of it? How was the public informed about the weapon? The project was led by the American military – how did this fact influence the evolution of the project? The essential finding that leads to the atomic bomb was the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938. Seven years later the first bombs exploded: the very first test was successful. Is this the standard course of affairs?

General information

This course will take place in the third quartile of your first year.


Miko Elwenspoek studied physics at the Freie Universität Berlin and completed his studies there with a research on the physics of fluids in 1978. After two years’ work on biophysics, he promoted on the dynamics of fluid metals and alloys at the same university in 1983. He then moved to the Netherlands to do research on the growth of organic cristals from a solution at the (then) Catholic University of Nijmegen.In 1987, he became a lecturer at the University of Twente and in 1996, a full professor of Transduction Technics as the department of Electrical Engineering. At the moment, he holds the chair of Transducers Science and Technology and is connected to both the MESA+ and IMPACT institute. His research towards microsystems recieved the Simon Steving Meesterschap award in 1997. He is (co)auteur of more than 200 articles in international scientific journals and two books. In 2002, he received the award for best teacher in Electrical Engineering, and later was, among others, responsible for the establishment of the study of Advanced Technology at the UT. Besides, he was one of the founders of the Honours programme and will act as the head of the Excellence programme of the UT for the coming years.

flood safety in the Netherlands

The Delta Works was elected as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. This huge project started in response to the big flood of 1953 in the Southwest of the Netherlands. Hydraulic structures were built such as storm surges, dams closing off estuaries, and dikes were strengthened. But also, a legal framework with fixed and spatially differentiated flood protections levels was set up, and emergency management institutions organised to be prepared for evaluation. The project was declared finished some 50 years later. By then, new policies on flood safety where underway, trying to cope with societal and climate changes.

This module examines technical, societal and scientific challenges that exist in flood security, and the diverging perspectives we can have on managing flood risk. The module addresses questions such as: How are risk perspectives framed in literature? Which perspectives can we recognise in Dutch flood risk management? Do different perspectives translate into differences in the assessment of flood risk? How different would the Netherlands look like, when designing a flood policy without compromising between perspectives?

General information

This course will take place in the fourth quartile of your first year. In the first weeks, you will individually read literature on risk perspectives and present on it, and exercise with these concepts on a societal risk. Next you will cluster in groups, each interested in one specific risk perspective. In your group, you will reshape the Netherlands and its flood risk policy based on your chosen perspective, without compromising. In a closing debate session, the arena is opened for a “battle of perspectives”.


Maarten Krol is associated professor at the research group of Water Engineering & Management at the University of Twente. His interests are in integrated management of water resources, with focus on integrated modelling, drought, water footprints, and impacts of climate change. Many of his publications consider drought problems, where the dynamical interactions of water availability and water use determine the severity of water scarcity that emerges, influenced by hydraulic structures and their strategic and operational management. His methodological research touches on uncertainties and the use of knowledge during decision-making. Currently, he is involved in two large EU-funded projects, on water saving potentials of innovative irrigation technology in precision agriculture, and on the assessment of current EU policies and potential innovations related to the water-land-food-energy-climate nexus.

Arjen Hoekstra (1967) is professor Multidisciplinary Water Management and scientific director of the Water Footprint Network. He started his career at the Technical University of Delft, where he obtained his MSc, cum laude, in Civil Engineering, and a PhD in Policy Analysis. During the course of his career, he visited over fifty countries and has worked in different academic environments, giving him a large and diverse network across the globe. Now, he partakes in a variety of interdisciplinary research projects, which focus on economy, anthropology, political sciences, civil engineering, and the environment.
He thought up the Water Footprint Concept in 2002, and established an interdisciplinary field of Water Footprint and Virtual Water Trade Analysis, which studies the field between water management, consumption, and trade. In this role, he was also the joint founder of the Water Footprint Network in 2008.
He teaches courses on a variety of topics, among which are water resources management, river basin and coastal zone management, hydrology and water quality, sustainable development, natural resources valuation, environmental systems analysis, and policy analysis. He devised a different number of educational tools, such as the River Basin Game and the Globalization of Water Role Play. His scientific publications cover a large field of topics related to water management and contain a large amount of peer-reviewed articles and chapters. He has also published a number of books, among which are Perspectives on Water (International Books, 1998), Globalization of Water (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008) and The Water Footprint Assessment Manual (Earthscan, 2011).

Instructional design

Twente Academy organizes master classes for high school students (VWO). The master classes are based on research done at our university. They involve lectures from UT members, schoolwork, homework, and often doing experiments in the UT learner lab.
In this course, you will design, in teams, learning activities for (parts of) a master class. You will be asked to systematically identify the learning wishes and needs of the users (students and teachers) and design a coherent set of learning materials. As part of the assignment, a faculty member, a schoolteacher, a learner lab assistant, or you will try out your design.
The following questions are central in this module: What vision on learning and teaching is underpinning your design? What are the learning goals of your lesson series? What learning and instructional strategies are put central? What is the role of technology? How do you want to assess whether the learners have reached the learning goals? What support do the teachers need for an optimal implementation of your design?
By designing your learning activities and by reflecting on that process and its outcomes, you will gain more insight in your own experiences as designer, learner, and (possibly) teacher.

General information

This course will take place in the first quartile of your second year.


Dr. Kim Schildkamp is an associate professor in the Faculty of Behavioural, Management, and Social Sciences of the University of Twente. Kim’s research, in the Netherlands but also in other countries, focuses on data-based decision making and formative assessment. She has been invited as a guest lecturer and keynote speaker at several conferences and universities, including AERA (American Educational Research Association), the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She is a board member of ICSEI (International Congress on School Effectiveness and Improvement), and she is chair of the ICSEI data use network. She has won awards for her work, and she has published widely on the use of (assessment) data. She developed the datateam® procedure, and she is editor of the book “Data-based decision making in education: Challenges and opportunities”, published by Springer.
Contact information: Kim Schildkamp, University of Twente, ELAN, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands. Email:, phone: 0031-53 489 4203

Jan Volbers


Globally the powers are shifting, the population is ageing, resources are becoming scarce, more and more people are living in (mega) cities, new media are emerging, new forms of mobility become available. What do we need to influence and/or adapt to all these changes?
We believe it is YOU that we need!
The solutions to such questions come from multidisciplinary approaches to design. In this project you will thus engage yourself in such an approach. This includes: thinking outside the box, exploring the limits of your own expertise, finding the expertise of others, designing solutions, et cetera.

General information

For this module (lasting two quartiles), you work alone or in small groups (max. 4), choose a topic from within or outside of your regular study that catches your interest, and design a product related to it. These designs can thus range from more technical to more social, but should ALWAYS take into account both aspects. You will be inspired in this process by lectures from designers, entrepreneurs, innovators. You will be guided in this process by the teachers of this module and a range of experts (including you!), that you can consult with on matters such as user-analysis, economic calculations, technical aspects, market analysis, etc.
The end result will be an application to a design award (we will use the format of the “iF public value student award” and a short justification report in which you explain and justify why the design is as it is.
The meetings during these two quartiles are used to exchange ideas and to present your most recent ideas, findings, designs, and overall progress. Another important aspect of these meetings is that you help each other by being the expert on your own area.
This course will take place in the second and third quartile of your second year (thus taking two quartiles).


Gertjan Koster is an associate professor (Adjunct Hoogleraar) in Physics of Complex Inorganic nano-materials. His research focuses on the structure-property relation of atomically engineered complex (nano)materials, especially thin film ceramic oxides. Current research includes the growth and study of artificial materials, the physics of reduced scale (nanoscale) materials, metal-insulator transitions and in situ photoelectron spectroscopy. This research includes (multi)ferroic, piezoelectric, magnetic and correlated electron complex oxide materials. Koster graduated in Applied Physics (MsC and PhD) and has worked at Stanford University and the University of British Colombia and currently teaches materials science courses for AT, TN, ST, ChE, TG.

Hedwig te Molder is full professor Science Communication at the University of Twente where she is based at the Philosophy Department. She also has a personal chair at the Strategic Communication group (Section Communication, Philosophy and Technology) at Wageningen University. Her work focuses on how people communicate issues of science and technology in their everyday lives, using discursive psychology and conversation analysis. She published more than 80 scientific articles and book chapters. In 2007 she received the Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association for Conversation and Cognition (Cambridge University Press, 2005, with Jonathan Potter). In the same year she received an award from Wageningen University for excellent teaching. She was Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2009) and Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna (2015).

Design synthesis

Many of us have or will find ourselves working in organizations and teams that require the conceptualization and realization of innovative solutions to future challenges. Our future society will be confronted with important challenges such as Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, Urbanization, Connecting People, Sustainable Growth and Acces to food and clean water. Technological and Scientific progress offers a rapid succession of novel materials and scientific results. As designers of future technologies, we need to help people deal with change.
The aim of this course is to empower people in a fast changing world.
In this course, we explore issues, challenges, and opportunities facing people and society today and in the near future. We consider when and why it makes sense to create innovative solutions to support people in a fast changing world, and the impact of advances in nano-, robo-, neuro, bio and info- technology (NRNBIT) on the design of a next generation of systems and objects.
We will gain hands-on experience with technologies to conceptualize and prototype approachable objects that address a core challenge and are inspired by recent advances in NRNBIT. By the end of this course, students should better understand the process of truly understanding people, and design thinking, be able to think strategically about issues such as creativity, design and the impact of design on people and society, and gain insights for successfully creating technology to address major societal challenges.

General information

This course will take place in the fourth quartile of your second year.