Stories#085 Sterre’s bright future

#085 Sterre’s bright future

The story of Norbert’s catching opportunities is a story of Sterre’s bright future

Norbert Spikker enjoys working for and with students in the workshops of the Engineering Technology faculty. Outside of work, he combines his own technical knowledge and skills with cycling, his greatest passion. He designed a bicycle frame – inspired by The Thing – in which the compressive forces are absorbed by the tubes and the tensile forces are guided to the frame by cables. This project should appeal to Sterre van Arum. She spent a long time looking for a bachelor’s programme that brings technology and creativity together. Her search brought her to UT, where she blossomed as a green thinker and doer. ‘I worry about how we treat our planet. That’s why I focus a lot on sustainability, especially on how my own way of living impacts the world.’

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Monday 18 july 2022 

Rising star: creative, technical and green

Norbert: ‘Hi Sterre! I don’t believe we’ve met. But you’ve probably been to the workshops at the Faculty of Engineering Technology.’

Sterre: ‘That’s right, I took a practical course there.’

Norbert: ‘I am responsible for these workshops. I plan the courses, take care of the schedules and make sure that we have enough materials. I am also a project group tutor. How about you?’

Sterre: ‘I am a master’s student in Interaction Technology. I finished the bachelor’s Creative Technology. I had a hard time picking a bachelor’s programme. I’m very technically oriented, but I also like to be creative. I missed that at many universities. It was often too technical, or too creative. Creative Technology combines the two. I really enjoy that. And the UT campus is really great.’

Norbert: ‘Besides Interaction Technology, have you looked at other master’s degrees?’

Sterre: ‘Yes, I checked out Sustainable Energy Technology. I’m very involved with sustainability and I’m worried about how we’re currently treating our planet. Yet, that master’s lacked room for creativity and was too theoretical for me, even though I find that my bachelor’s had too little math and physics. I thought: okay, I’ll dive a bit more into the technical subjects myself during my master’s in Interaction Technology.’

I am very involved with sustainability and am concerned about how we are currently treating our planet

Sterre van Arum

Norbert: ‘I saw on the internet that you work or have worked a lot with animations. Do you still do that?’

Sterre: ‘Yes, I really like creating animations; for Virtual Reality, for example. But I also like to work on tangible projects. I remember an assignment for a supermarket. We wanted to teach children how to eat healthy and where their food comes from. We made a kind of scavenger hunt through the store with physical boxes where children could find information and that they could play with.’

Norbert: ‘So you think a societal cause is important too.’

Sterre: ‘That’s right! For example, I also collaborated on SpiroPlay. An app for children with asthma. These children have to regularly blow through a spirometer to test their lung function. This an annoying thing to do, because they have to blow hard and it’s boring. So we turned it into a game with different scenarios that were developed together with the children. They will see a little car, for example. Its engine starts when children breathe in and it starts driving when they blow out. They then have to make the car cross a finish line.’

Norbert: ‘Cool. You’ve done a lot of nice things. Looking into the future, where do you want to go?’

Sterre: ‘That’s a good question, one I can’t really answer yet. I know I want to make an impact. There is a need for Creative Technology students in many places. We know a lot about user experience. And despite the fact that we don’t go into the depths of all our subjects, or maybe because of that, we are good at bridging the gap between customers and experts. We know what can and cannot be done and we know how to explain it.’

Creative Technology students are needed in many places; we know a lot about user experience and are the bridge between customers and experts

Sterre van Arum

‘For my internship during my master’s, I also looked at The Ocean Cleanup. I think it’s a great initiative. I like to create new things, but I also like to organise. I like taking the initiative in projects. That’s something I could do at The Ocean Cleanup.’

Norbert: ‘In that case you would make an impact that is not directly related to your studies.’

Sterre: ‘True. When it comes to sustainability, I am mainly concerned with how my way of life affects the world. I eat vegetarian, often vegan, although I find that a bit more difficult. And I use as little plastic as possible. When I buy something, I do research on which products use materials that are reusable, making them the best option. Talking about work matters, I have been involved in the Green Hub for a while. Unfortunately, that initiative is still not very well known among employees and students.’

Norbert: ‘What did you do there?’

Sterre: ‘Several things. Promotional activities. Organising and maintaining projects. Or setting up new ones, such as a clean-up operation at Kennispark, together with students and employees of the companies there, so that they could get to know each other. And the Green Hub has a vegetable garden project on the campus. I have my own vegetable garden there.’

Norbert: ‘Nice! What do you grow?’

Sterre: ‘Ehm... beans, leek, onion, rhubarb, a lot of strawberries. And some other things as well.’

Norbert: ‘Can you find people to eat all that when you harvest it?’

Sterre: I can! I live with seven flatmates in a student house. I will say things like: guys, I have a lot of courgettes here; feel free to use them.’

My housemates think more about the impact of our food consumption on the planet because we talk about it

Sterre van Arum

Norbert: ‘Do you also talk to them about why you do what you do and why you think it’s important?’

Sterre: ‘Yes, because of me we started eating more vegetarian food and one housemate became a vegetarian as well. We talk a lot about it. Sometimes we even have rather fierce discussions – which I really enjoy. Because we do this, my housemates think more about the impact of our food consumption on the planet.’

Norbert: ‘Last question: do you have any advice for future students?’

Sterre: ‘I always used to be this very hard-working kid who would only be satisfied with a nine or a ten out of ten. I realise now that studying doesn’t always have to be like that. It is also very nice to look around you. To join a student team, sports club or cultural association. Maybe not the best study advice... But then again, it is. Especially for people who, like me, are sometimes too perfectionist. I really could have told myself: girl, take it easy, you got this.’

Norbert: ‘Thank you, Sterre! Maybe we will meet again in the workshop. Although I mostly see bachelor students.’

Sterre: ‘Well, because of the corona lockdowns there wasn’t much I could do in my student days. I would actually like to get a bit more out of it, because it will soon be over. So who knows!’

Norbert Spikker (1967)

is workshop manager and practical leader at the Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET). He has been working at UT since 2003 and supervises practicals for students of Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Design and Creative Technology. Norbert studied Mechanical Engineering at Saxion University of Applied Sciences and then worked as a maintenance engineer for a few years. In his current role, he’s responsible for a team of ten employees.

Sterre van Arum (1999)

likes to be creative and technical. That’s why she came from the Randstad area to UT for her bachelor’s degree in Creative Technology. In this programme, she worked on various smart and educational solutions for children. She also developed a strong passion for sustainability and green technology. She had a side job at UT’s Green Hub. And she grows her own vegetables in her vegetable garden. Sterre is now enrolled in a master’s degree in Interaction Technology. She dreams of a job in which she can make an impact in society. And in which she can contribute to a green future.