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New Year's Breakfast theme is visibility

On Monday the very popular New Year's Breakfast was held at the UT. The maximum amount of registrations of 700 staff and students had already been reached several weeks before the event. The UT in the Media Awards were presented at the meeting, for students and researchers who had best succeeded in exposing their research to a broader audience through the media. As per tradition the meeting ended with a cabaret performance. Caberet performer Thijs Kemperink from Twente had been invited to hold a mirror up to the audience. "As we have to take our job seriously, but ourselves a little less sometimes."

Victor van der Chijs, Chair of the Executive Board of the UT, started the meeting with a new year's speech. The central theme of his story was 'visibility'. During his speech Van der Chijs spoke, for instance, of the new 'University of... media campaign' which can be found in media everywhere since the end of last year. Behind 'University of' you can enter all the Unique Selling Points of the UT. And they are many, according to the chair of the board. The objective: "Ensure that more people realize that the UT is great university, with pioneering research and innovative education."

In his speech Van der Chijs then talked about the year to come. In order to have a clear societal impact the bar for the UT has to be high, he states. "We ask everyone to have an entrepreneurial attitude, it requires cooperation and a continued search for new combinations." To strengthen our position as most entrepreneurial university of Europe the UT will therefore continue to promote the collaboration with the corporate sector. On of the ways to do this is the appointment of a hundred additional doctoral candidates, partly funded by the corporate sector.

The UT will also define several iconic projects this year. In addition, Van der Chijs announced CuriousU: a unique combination of a Summer School and a cultural festival. This summer, students from across the world are welcome at the campus to attend inspiring sessions in the field of, for instance, smart cities, robotics and health.

UT in the Media Awards

After an introduction film the presentation of the UT in the Media Awards took place, for students and researchers who had best succeeded in exposing their research to a broader audience through the media. First the students Emile Nijssen and Stefan Witkamp were put in the limelight. These two had garnered a lot of media attention with Homey, a speech-operated system for home automation. Next in line was Hans Heerkens - "known as the aviation expert of the Netherlands for years" - who received the media award outside the regular categories. He also received this honour last year. Van der Chijs jokingly remarked that the award perhaps ought to be dubbed the 'Hans Heerkens Award' from now on.

Vanessa Evers was awarded third place, thanks to a lot of media attention for (social robots) in the national press. Evers regularly appeared in the NRC and Volkskrant newspapers and was a guest at Pauw & Witteman, the NOS and in the National Science Quiz on television. Renske van Wijk came in second this year with her research into the use of helmet therapy for babies. With this research she, amongst others, reached the BBC news, the New York Times, CBS news, Eén Vandaag, Editie NL and the Volkskrant.

Finally Van der Chijs announced the winner of the UT in the Media Award: Sarthak Misra. The development of nano robots that look like sperm received a lot of attention, especially at online news outlets and mostly in the US and Canada. In the Netherlands the news was published in, among others, the Volkskrant, New Scientist, NRC and Kijk.

A current overview with highlights of UT research and education in the media can be found on this website.

Photography: Gijs van Ouwerkerk