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Thesis project at MIT's Senseable City Lab: impressive dedication and commitment

It is not an opportunity that every student gets: to work with world-class researchers at the renowned MIT. For their bachelor theses ATLAS students Mélanie Droogleever Fortuyn and Titus Venverloo headed to Boston. They were particularly impressed by the dedication and commitment of the researchers.

No coincidence

That these two students were able to join the Senseable City Lab of MIT, is certainly not just a happy coincidence. Earlier in their study, they joined a UT collaborative project in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, and kept in contact with the researchers since. One of them was also attached to MIT. "Basically, we just sent an email to ask whether they could think along for an interesting thesis project." And so, a few months later they took the plane to Boston, ready to start their research project on autonomous boats, a collaboration of the lab with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions.

Logistic puzzle

As the streets in Amsterdam are slowly getting overcrowded, the water may provide an interesting solution to ease the pressure on the road network. Currently, the canals are mainly used by tour boats, which are taking tourists around the city's main attractions. However, the canals can also play a key role in the complex logistics of a city and aid in keeping the city accessible.

In July, the students returned to Enschede for the defense of their theses. Having been successful, they were handed their bachelor’s degrees. Mélanie: "The lab has a team of 40 researchers. It was really special to see how dedicated and committed they were to their jobs. Also, there is a lot going on, every day there is something interesting around campus being organized that would be worthwhile attending. Both academics and key players in business and politics joined the discussions. Only just to sit there and listen proved to be really interesting."

During their research, the students confirmed their enthusiasm for the smart city domain and its solutions. "It is fascinating to connect a digital layer to the physical space. In particular, when it directly impacts the people and their environment", Titus says.

Interesting conclusion

The opportunity to do research at a university with world fame was an interesting conclusion to a packed bachelor programme. Besides their study in Technology Liberal Arts and Sciences, they were part of the University Innovation Fellows. There, they were able to think along with the university's challenges as well as building up an extensive international network of talented and motivated peers.

These were valuable experiences, as the students fly out to broaden their horizons. Titus will take on a two year master programme in Metropolitan Analysis, Design & Engineering, a joint initiative of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, Wageningen University & Research and Delft University of Technology. Mélanie will move to the Swiss city of Lausanne, for a master programme in Environmental Sciences and Engineering at EPFL.

L.P.W. van der Velde (Laurens)
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