In the week of 25th until 29th of May, a delegation of the University of Twente, consisting of a delegation of the Executive Board and scientific directors, visit North America. The Executive Board reports back on a daily basis through a blog.
DAY 1: WELCOME IN A TALENTED REGION
It is well known that Boston is immensely attractive for academic talents from around the world. Harvard and MIT are only tip of the ice berg. The city is the undisputed knowledge hub of the US and competes with Silicon Valley and NYC for start-ups.
INNOVATION IN EDUCATIONAL APPROACH
We however started our visit outside of Boston, at Needham, a 30 minutes’ drive west of Boston and a pleasant village with nice houses and lush greens. This is where Olin College of Engineering is situated. The president of OLIN engineering college, Rick Miller, sacrificed a large part of Memorial Day (a major holiday in the US) to welcome us and share his passion for disruptive education compared to traditional engineering colleges. Olin College was founded to not only graduate engineering innovators but also as a resource to other colleges and universities across the world seeking to broaden and rethink their educational approaches and learning environments. Olin’s mission and format have been an inspiration for setting-up University College Twente: ATLAS. We agreed with Rick to intensify our collaboration and explore ways to exchange staff and students between both colleges habitually.
Back in Boston, we had a nice informal dinner with UT colleagues of ITC, CES and M&C who are participating in NAFSA (the world largest conference on international education) in Boston. We were joined by UT colleague Jeroen Leijten (TNW), who is enjoying his post-doc at Harvard Medical School.
DAY 2: INTENSE BUT REWARDING
Tuesday, we had a very intense but rewarding program. Starting with a discussion with a well-funded and pioneering company - a contact of Maarten IJzerman - that showed us the immense potential of combining healthcare datasets. A potentially very valuable contact for several UT research groups, including those on big data.
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL
We then walked to Mass General, or, in full, Massachusetts General Hospital, where we were received by doctor Rajiv Gupta, principal of the Radiology Center. We signed an Memorandum of Understanding allowing Technical Medicine students to visit and work at MGH and at the same time opening up the opportunity for MGH research staff to be appointed at the UT. During the tour of the MGH radiology department, we were baffled by the quantity and quality of the infrastructure.
But what we also found out was that the 700 staff members of the radiology department, despite the scale and reputation were incredibly open and friendly people focused solely on the care of the patients. We learned that this culture was and is the basis of a rich source of on spot innovation in health care. A very nice fit for TG and all other activities in the Health research and education of the UT. Dr. Gupta will become visiting professor at the UT (TNW).
OFF TO CANADA
Our lunch was yet another source of inspiration. We talked to Henri Termeer; successful biotech entrepreneur, member of the MGH board and honorary doctor of the UT, who gave us an insight in the American elite universities and the role of business and innovation. Before we flew off to Ottawa to join minister Bussemaker and a Dutch delegation we met with Walter de Wit, the Innovation Officer of the Dutch consulate in Boston, and exchanged views on developments in the USA.