‘Realise how privileged you are. Do something good with what you've learned and do your best for society.’ With these words, presenter Diederik Jekel concluded the graduation meeting of the first batch of Mechanical Engineers (ME) in Amsterdam on 1 July. It was a festive occasion with the students, their parents and families, the teachers, the administrators and everyone else involved. With the launch in 2019 of this first joint bachelor's programme in Amsterdam, the collaboration between VU Amsterdam and the UT officially got off to a flying start.
During the meeting on 1 July and in a special digital edition, there was plenty of reflection on the past three years of ME in Amsterdam. Among others by the lecturers. Jurnan Schilder, for instance, gave a hilarious presentation on the first practical assignment for students. Yashar Hadjimolana and Isabel Braadbaart were both impressed by the creativity of the students and the development they had undergone. ‘They made an excellent transition from theory to practical application in their projects.’ Strahinja Jokic thought it was great to be a teacher in a new study programme. ‘You have a lot of freedom and space to pioneer and to develop and master things. And I enjoyed the close contact with the students.’
A school trip every month
The students also looked back. In their graduation project, Sarah Wilcox and Bas Bets presented a solution for nanoparticle research and for traffic jams. Jekel's interviews with students in the audience showed that the students enjoyed their study, despite the limitations caused by the pandemic. For example, the practical work on the Twente campus, where they stayed in log cabins, felt as 'a school trip every month'. During her project on renewable energy, Sanne Roos was struck by how much she had already learned in the first year. Øyvind Russwurm thought he had matured enormously during the study, both academically and professionally.
Enjoyable and pragmatic
Pieter Roos, the outgoing location director in Amsterdam, outlined the ME history from the very beginning and also looked back on his own experiences. ‘I never thought that in my role of location director I would enjoy other teachers that much.’ Tom Veldkamp (rector UT) and deans Guus Schreiber (VU) and Bart Koopman (UT) stressed the importance of the collaboration, which now extends to more education and research, including the second technical study programme in Amsterdam, Creative Technology, starting in 2023. Mareanne Karssen, project leader at VU Amsterdam during the start-up phase, looked back on a great and challenging job. ‘The collaboration with the people from the UT was very pleasant from the start. We share a pragmatic attitude and the atmosphere was good too.’