Stories#069 Timon’s active student-life

#069 Timon’s active student-life

The story of Sarthak’s limitless learning is a story of Timon’s active student-life

Professor Sarthak Misra would easily fill a 48-hour day. Running, making music, reading and above all: learning more. About medicine, entrepreneurship and space robots. Student Timon Metz also makes full days. He is an active member of student association Audentis, eldest resident of his student house and minister of the student cabinet. In all this busyness, he keeps an eye on the people around him. ‘I like a party best when others are having a good time’.

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Monday 14 march 2022 

You only really get to know yourself through activities next to your studies

Sarthak: ‘Timon, good morning. Is that an air rifle behind you?’

Timon: ‘Yes, it is. By the way, I don't think you can kill someone with it. At least I hope, ha ha! I live in an old student home in Enschede. Since 1970 this house has been inhabited by students. I am currently the ‘eldest’, so I have the biggest room. With an old library ... and this rifle.’

Sarthak: ‘What’s life like in your student house?’

Timon: ‘We’re sort of a family. We eat and do fun stuff together. And we look out for each other. My housemates will sometimes say: ‘no fun activities for you, you should be studying’. I really had to learn how to study on my own. If I had lived in some studio alone, I would have struggled a lot more with the transition from high school to university.’

Sarthak: ‘How did you end up studying Technical Medicine at UT?’

Timon: ‘I tried to combine the human body and economy, but I didn’t quite manage to find a degree that covers both. Then, I stumbled across Technical Medicine. That immediately triggered me.’

Sarthak: ‘I saw that you now have switched to Industrial Engineering and Management. Why?’

Timon: ‘I figured this degree would open more doors. As an industrial engineer, I can go anywhere and say: these are my qualities and ambitions. This might not make me the ideal university student. Or maybe it does. To me, studying is about so much more than the contents of a study programme.’

Sarthak: ‘Like what?'

Timon: ‘When I came to Twente, I immediately dove into student life. I joined Audentis, a student association, and half a year later I became part of a fraternity too. I was in the University Council for a year. Currently, I work for the personal development team of the Student Union and I have a job at a start-up company. Last year, I became active in the Student Cabinet.’

Sarthak: ‘Yes, I read about that and I’ll get to it later. But I didn’t know that you work for a start-up company. What is that about?’

Timon ‘It's called WellBased. Our goal is to help prepare youngsters for society, by teaching them how to deal with themselves and others. We provide an online platform for high schools, with all kinds of personal development workshops. Teachers can give these workshops with only ten minutes of preparation time. They’re meant to help pupils get to know their interests, strengths and weaknesses. And to teach them soft skills, like giving feedback or speaking in front of people. This helps kids talk to each other more easily. And it prevents bullying, for example.’

Sarthak: ‘Interesting! Now, moving to the Student Cabinet. I understand you are the ‘prime minister’. How did you become involved in this?’

Timon: ‘Yes, that's right. ‘Prime minister’, those words still make me blush. To be honest, I just applied when I saw a call. The Student Cabinet is an initiative of all Dutch universities. It’s aimed at drawing politicians’ attention to the long term by taking advantage of the relatively quiet time window in the media after the national elections, while parties are forming a new cabinet. We want to show that science has ready-to-use solutions for big issues that we should act on now, like climate change, democracy and health care.’

Sarthak: ‘Talking to you I get the sense that you’re really invested in the community and society. Where does this come from?’

Timon: ‘It grew over the years. I am a sociable person and quite confident about myself – some may even find me arrogant. But I get insecure sometimes too. When I just started studying, I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. Still, I realise that I am privileged and that I get many opportunities to make a difference. What also drives me is that, over the last years, society has hardened. People seem to be more involved with creating opposition than building bridges. Look at the fact that we have two or three parties in the university council. They generally want the same things, so they might as well join forces.’

Sarthak: ‘What changes would you like to see at UT?’

Timon: ‘Our university should focus even more on challenge-based learning, with actual societal challenges. To teach students to come up with the most practical solutions and develop a mindset of applying theory to real-world problems. I would also like UT to become even more of a place where students have the time and space to do things besides studying. Extracurricular activities help people to explore your interests. I know not everybody can afford a study delay. If it were up to me, UT would take measures to allow more students to look around for interesting positions on the side.’

‘On the long term, I hope that we will become the diverse university that we want to be. I think we made a mistake there, a couple of years ago – we wanted to change too quickly. The influx of students from abroad and the use of English have created some resistance. We should not only focus on pursuing our vision, but also on getting everybody to join the movement. I know Sterre Mkatini, our Diversity & Inclusion Officer, is doing a great job at making sure everybody feels safe and part of the UT community.’

Sarthak: ‘Your intentions are noble. I hope the changes you want to see will happen. They begin with students like you.’

Timon: ‘Maybe. But it’s not only about me or students like me. It’s like when I throw a party. I always enjoy myself best when I know other people are having a good time.’

Timon Metz BSc (1997)

has a bachelor’s degree in Technical Medicine from UT. Currently, he is enrolled in a master’s in Industrial Engineering and Management. Besides, he works for UT’s Student Union and WellBased, an Enschede start-up company. Timon was a board member of student association Audentis and a member of the University Council. He is also the prime minister of the Student Cabinet.

Sarthak Misra (1977)

is a professor in the Department of Biomechanical Engineering and heads the Surgical Robotics Lab (SRL) at UT. He is broadly interested in the design, modelling, and control of micro- and macro-electromechanical systems with applications in medical robotics. Sarthak is also a professor at the University of Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen. Before coming to the Netherlands in 2009, he studied Mechanical Engineering at McGill University in Montreal and obtained his PhD at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA). Prior to commencing his doctoral studies, he spent three years as a dynamics and control analyst on the International Space Station Program in Houston (USA) and Montreal (Canada). In the Netherlands, he has since obtained several major research grants, including a Veni and Vidi grants from NWO, and ERC Starting, Consolidator, and Proof-of-Concept grants.