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In memoriam: Anjo Anjewierden

On Saturday, 14 November, we received the sad news of the passing of Anjo Anjewierden. Anjo worked as a software engineer at the Department of Instructional Technology of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS).

In 2007, he joined us from the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Social Sciences Informatics (SWI), where he had gained extensive experience in software development within European projects, at times in collaboration with the University of Twente, such as in the EU KITS and APOSDLE projects. His early projects were focused on the development of what were then called expert systems. His contribution to the KADS methodology, a knowledge engineering method for the development of expert systems, was substantial. Anjo was an expert in Prolog, and together with Jan Wielemaker he worked on SWI-Prolog, a Prolog version that has been downloaded by millions of users. He brought his European experience to Twente, where he contributed to EU projects, METIS, SCY, Go-Lab and Next-Lab. In addition, Anjo supported doctoral candidates and postdocs in developing online laboratories and learning apps for a number of NWO projects, and in the analysis of the extensive log data generated by the research. Anjo has therefore been acknowledged in a great number of doctoral theses. 

Non-standard jobs

Anjo always sought the non-standard jobs in projects. What he did had to be of significance, and there was always an element of innovativeness and creativity in his work. Anjo was not only deeply involved in the development of the software, such as online laboratories, but he was also dedicated to the underlying content. It did not matter to him whether it concerned trigonometry, the solubility of salts or quantum mechanics. Anjo always gave himself entirely to whatever he was asked to do; his work was a large part of his life. This involvement was also expressed in the way he interacted with the doctoral candidates and postdocs. Anjo was never the first to arrive in the morning, but he worked longs days and weekends. Especially at the end of the day he would have long discussions with others about the next step in software development or the set-up of their experiments; he attached great value to such a collaborative approach. Anjo obtained his own PhD in 2012 at the University of Twente for his doctoral thesis entitled ‘Explorations in fine-grained learning analytics’. Educational data mining was the subject that really interested him. 

Caring spirit

Anjo was always present at the department’s social gatherings, and he was the driving force behind the songs that we traditionally perform for PhD students – old songs that he had written were routinely put in the spotlight again, and Anjo would usually stress that a beer or two had never hurt a performance. He had a caring spirit for his colleagues, which he expressed in his own way. He would hand out Magnums in the summer and sweets in the winter, and he would always ask if anyone needed anything from the supermarket when he went to buy lunch. Initially, he travelled a lot but after getting stuck in New York on 9/11 he stopped travelling by plane. This meant that he sometimes had to make very long train journeys. However, he preferred to travel by bike. He covered great distances and was proud of the many kilometres he travelled. During such cycling tours he would regularly drop in on colleagues, and he enjoyed spending time with their children. He would also take the opportunity to extensively go through their upcoming assignments with them and provide them with feedback. And if there were any newborn babies to be visited, Anjo was sure to go. One of his other passions was chess. He was a respected member of the SV Lonneker chess club (after his membership of SV Drienerlo) while also playing for the UT-chess team on the business tournament, and he greatly missed these activities during the coronavirus pandemic. Data mining also came into play with his hobbies: he wrote applications to make chess match reports and to keep track of the kilometres he cycled. 

We will always remember Anjo as a very special and involved colleague. It is comforting to know that he lives on in his work. His most recent work can be found here. There is a digital book of condolences. Please feel free to write a message.