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#044 Wilma’s turning ideas into action

The story of Jasper’s theatre play is a story of Wilma’s turning ideas into action

Jasper Homminga walked an unusual path in academia. A path that revolves around education, rather than research. That is where his strength lies – even though his current job is more in the background. Wilma Meere doesn’t like to be in the spotlight either. As a project manager she helps others to implement their ideas. Preferably with as much impact as possible. ‘We could do more projects around social issues. If you collaborate well and keep the goal in mind, it will often work out. And if you fail together? You dust yourself off and get back up again.’

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Monday 16 August 2021

Learning in the ‘real world’

Jasper: ‘Hello Wilma! How does a social worker end up at UT? Is your main job to make sure we don’t get into each other’s hair?’ 

Wilma: ‘Haha, no. I think people at UT are rather sweet. And I know, since I’ve got enough experiences to compare UT to. I’m struck by how well people support each other here. I started at UT as project manager House of Integrity, and later I was asked to be a project manager research data management. My first reaction at the time was: “Research data management? I don't even know what that is!” I didn't know academia at all. But nobody judged me for that, everyone was patient and had faith in me. And I am very satisfied with the cooperation and with the results we have obtained. For example, together with Library, IT Services & Archive (LISA) and the faculties we are currently developing the Digital Competence Center (DCC). This is going very well.’

““I don't see myself as the lubricant, but more like the tugboat that gets things moving”
Wilma Meere

Jasper: ‘That's great to hear. However, I'm still curious what you do exactly.'

Wilma: ‘I help people put their ideas into practice. Coming up with an idea is fun but implementation and execution are just as important. That’s my job as project manager within the collaboration. I am a doer. I don’t see myself as the lubricant, but more like the tugboat that gets things moving. 

‘At UT, a group can come together and talk for an hour about all kinds of wonderful possibilities and then leave the room satisfied. Take something as complex as an ethics policy for example: this is a complicated topic which you can debate for hours. But you want that discussion to actually develop into a tangible outcome. A couple of enthusiastic UT colleagues developed a UT-wide policy for ethical review. Subsequently, LISA collaborated with colleagues of different faculties to develop an ICT tool, so that applications can now be done digitally. Beautiful plans, to which I happily contribute – together with others – to make sure that they succeed.’ 

Jasper: ‘Ah. Now I know what you bring to UT; what does working at UT bring you?' 

Wilma: ‘Gosh, so much. It's a fun and innovative environment. The passion that people at UT have for their work is inspiring. Oh yes, I also find collaborating with scientists very interesting.’

Jasper: ‘How come?’ 

Wilma: ‘I’ll have a fulfilling day when I have made the world a little better. When I was self-employed, I saw how research helps for providing better solutions. Or rather: how advice based on research does. For example, I thought about a good approach for reports of mentally confused persons in public. The police regularly received such reports, while actually these people need care. Together with several partners in Twente, we developed a project to improve the approach. That turned out to be a big success: in the last two years there haven’t been any serious escalations among the 35 persons in Twente that we consider being at most risk.’ 

Jasper: ‘A great example. Because of your experience of having been self-employed, you can probably view UT with more of a helicopter view. Do you also see areas for improvement?' 

Wilma: 'I do think that the collaboration between the university, hbo (Universities of Applied Sciences) and mbo (schools for vocational education) could be reenforced. In my experience, universities are sometimes rather introverted. Someone who is educated at university level looks at problems from a different angle than an hbo or mbo graduate and contributes by giving other solutions. Each level of education has its own added value. If we join forces, I am convinced we will increase our social impact.’

“Working with real people is much more motivating than working with hypotheses and data”
Wilma Meere

Jasper: ‘You're right. Yet it remains difficult to integrate societal issues in education. If your plan fails, it has bigger consequences. But I believe we are already well on our way with challenge-based learning, where we use practical experiences as learning opportunities – aren’t we?' 

Wilma: ‘Yes. However, learning as such would be even greater if we also brought challenge-based learning to the ‘real world’. For example: if we did more projects that revolve around solving societal issues. Working with real people is much more motivating than working with hypotheses and data.’

‘Of course it's exciting. But if you work together and keep your eyes on your goal, it usually works out fine. Worst case scenario, you fail together. How bad can it be? You dust yourself off and get back up again.’

Jasper: ‘It is certainly worth considering. By the way, maybe you can help us with the medical device regulations with your experience at the Digital Competence Center. It’s about the new legislation for developing medical devices. You need to have so much in black and white for that – we have lost a lot of sleep over this issue at the Technical Medical Center. Could we talk about that at a certain point?' 

Wilma: ‘Absolutely! Let's schedule an appointment right away.’

DR. JASPER HOMMINGA (1972)

is vice programme director of the bachelor’s and master’s programme Technical Medicine. Jasper has a scientific background in biomechanics and more specifically, bone mechanics. He joined UT in 2003, to do research and design in spine mechanics and teach in Technical Medicine and Biomedical Technology. In 2013, he joined the founding team of ATLAS and was interim programme director there 2019-2020. In 2020, he returned to his biomedical background and joined Technical Medicine.

WILMA MEERE (1969)

studied Social Work and Services. Previously, she coordinated social work in the Velve-Lindenhof neighbourhood in Enschede, among other things. Since 2006 she has been running WMProjecten: a consultancy for projects in the social and security sector and education. She was project coordinator for Tien in Twente – a project aimed at helping people with high risk delusional behaviour. She has been working as a project manager at UT since 2020.