Delft Outlook, TU Delft

Page 1

DEC 2016 NO. 4 DELFT





‘A completely fresh wind is blowing’


The city as an orchestra



COVER PHOTO ‘CRISPR-Cas9 is a technology with a huge impact but it operates at a microscopically small scale. That is why we chose to use a drawing with the researcher, Stan Brouns.’ Illustration: Claus Lunau Photo: Sam Rentmeester


Isabel Arends DELFT IN BRIEF 03


Contagium vivum fluidum – with those words, Martinus Willem Beijerinck described what he saw when examining pieces of diseased tobacco plant under his microscope in 1898. This Delft microbiologist became world famous with his discovery of what we now all know by the shorter name of virus. Biologists may not be the first people you expect to meet in Delft, but they are a vital part of the university. All over the campus you will come across technical scientists who are inspired by biology: from bio-inspired design to biotechnology, and from nanobiology to bioinformatics. With this inspiration from nature, researchers work here in teams seeking smart solutions for humans and the environment. Examples include: biofuel produced with yeast cells, water treatment using micro-organisms, and self-healing concrete using bacteria.


During our 175th anniversary celebrations in 2017, we will showcase what TU Delft has to offer in this field: for 175 days, Delft will be dedicated to the topic ‘Technology for Life’. I hope to meet you during the Alumni Event in June, but you’re also welcome in March at the Library, for example, where the subject is the brain. Or you could visit the Science Centre, where we’ve restored Beijerinck’s historic work room to its former glory. His legacy means a lot to us: it reminds us that we are part of a greater whole.




Remco de Boer



Professor Isabel Arends Chair of the TU Delft 175th anniversary committee. Isabel Arends wrote this foreword for Delft Outlook in anticipation of the university’s 175th anniversary celebrations.





The City as an Orchestra


ALUMNI NEWS 38 Delft Outlook is the magazine of TU Delft


page 07 Theme Life



Editorial staff Saskia Bonger (editor-in-chief), Dorine van Gorp, Katja Wijnands (managing editors), Tomas van Dijk, Sam Rentmeester (photographer), Connie van Uffelen, Jos Wassink, T +31 (0) 15 2784848, E-mail Contributing writers Remco de Boer, Auke Herrema, Stephan Timmers Design Jelle Hoogendam Typesetting Saskia de Been Printing Quantes Subscriptions


18 Gijs van Kuik

40 Years of wind energy

22 Energy from glass

PowerWindow changes the world

26 Crispr Rewriting DNA







Biolenses With their project Opticoli TU Delft students have won a range of prizes at the annual iGEM international student team synthetic biology competition. In order to stimulate bacteria cells to produce a biolens, they modified the DNA of the bacteria so that it produced a new protein called silicatine. This protein stimulates the production of silica, a vitreous crystal.

Originating from a sponge, the gene plays a crucial role in skeletal construction. The genetic modification allows the bacteria cell to surround itself with a layer of glass (the biological lens). It is doubtful whether it really works, but that is not the aim. The iGEM competition serves as a platform for the advancement of expertise in the field of synthetic biology.

Sustainable Parliam Generating electricity by installing solar panels instead of slates on the roof; letting the 60,000 annual visitors walk on electricity-generating paving; using water from the Hofvijver for cooling; building greenhouses on the roof and adding more greenery to the courtyard. Students from the Stylos study association (Faculty of A+BE) have their own ideas regarding the renovation of the Dutch Parliament, planned for 2020. Martijn Wolthuis, Director of the Central Government Real Estate Agency, explained that the ideas didn’t necessarily need to be feasible, the focus was on reaching consensus. “Everything in The Hague is about politics”.


Nearly 700 first-year Mechanical Engineering students had to design a gripper capable of grabbing, picking up and putting away a cup or milk carton without spilling. The gripper was to be powered by pneumatic cylinder actuators, and capable of moving four objects within three minutes. The stability of the gripper and the construction were also important. The ‘Grab-o-tronic’ was the winner after finishing in just 17 seconds; the ‘Grabby’ won the originality prize. The students controlled the double gripper using a brake cable, allowing for a compact construction and keeping the pneumatic cylinders out of sight.



99 grippers


Credits for MOOCs

From 2017, TU Delft students will receive credits for MOOCs offered by seven international universities. In turn, students from those universities will receive credits for MOOCs offered by TU Delft and the other universities involved. The development sees TU Delft fulfil a long-cherished dream. The eight universities already have MOOCs. Anka Mulder, Executive Board member, said that the MOOCs are fantastic, but not many students use them. Examinations will take place at the student’s own university ‘under supervised conditions’.

How difficult can it be?

USB plugs that don’t fit and incomprehensible photocopier menus. TU Delft lecturer, cabaret artist and columnist Jasper van Kuijk cannot stand ill-conceived designs and systems. In his recent book, Hoe moeilijk kan het zijn? (How difficult can it be?), he relays hilarious tales of technological irritations. It features some 70 weekly columns written for de Volkskrant newspaper,in which he ‘picks holes in the fallacies of contemporary design’.

Delft blockchain lab

Completing financial transactions without the need for banks: that’s the promise of blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s a bank (ABN AMRO) that is investing in the Delft blockchain lab. Blockchain is a decentralised registration system, of which all users have a copy on their computer. The software is designed to automatically prevent fraud or errors. The version under development by Delft is slightly different: transactions are only registered on the computers of those involved. They hope to realise an operational, secure application within six months.



Flexible blades to explore passive control mechanisms during his doctoral research at the Faculty of AE. Developments in composites mean that the rigidity of materials can be controlled; blades can therefore be developed that twist when under pressure so that the angle of wind

incidence changes (an acuter angle under increased stress). Promotor Prof Gerard van Bussel is pleased with the new research into passive control; the subject had not been addressed for 20 years. MV


It is possible to actively adjust rotor blades in accordance with the wind speed to maximise capacity and minimise stress. The disadvantage of such smart rotors is that the additional complexity results in increased maintenance costs. This inspired Dr Etana Ferede


Controllable needle Following his doctoral research, Dr Nick van de Berg has concluded that after five years of work, the controllable needle developed by the Biomechanical Engineering Department (Faculty of 3mE) is ready for preclinical trials. He researched the transverse forces on the head of the needle (which can rotate 10 degrees in all directions) and how these can be used to control the 2mm-thick needle. The next step in development involves tests on diseased organs from the operating table. These trials will be conducted at Erasmus MC, in collaboration with Dr Theo van Walsum (Image-guided Interventions). JW

Electronic nose ‘smells’ TNT A nanosensor that can detect extremely low concentrations of TNT: a development worthy of publication in the American Chemical Society’s magazine Nano Letters. Researchers Anping Cao (Faculty of Applied Sciences) and Dr Wei Zhu (University of Twente) combined molecular cages with nanowires on a chip. When a molecule exactly fits in a cage, this can be measured electronically. Research supervisor Dr Louis de Smet says that sensitivity of 1 ppb (parts-per-billion) has been achieved. One disadvantage: the nanocage is too sensitive to moisture to operate in air, hence the experiments were conducted in alcohol. JW

Unsatisfactory grades for TU Delft is near the bottom in a 2017 Keuzegids Universiteiten (university programme guide) ranking. Three Bachelor’s programmes were deemed unsatisfactory. Students report that the study load is excessive, although the Executive Board doesn’t necessarily see this as a problem.

Unsatisfactory grades were awarded for Architecture and the Built Environment (54 out of 100), Marine Technology (52) and Applied Earth Sciences (42, the lowest scoring Applied Earth Sciences programme of the four assessed in the country). With 56 points, Mechanical

Engineering scraped a pass. Applied Mathematics received the highest score: 70. Grades are based on student evaluations, expert opinion, drop-out rates and number of contact hours.




Delft Outlook is interpreting the theme for the TU Delft 175th anniversary – ‘Technology for Life’ – as ‘Life’. Subjects in this issue include biotechnology, as well as improvements to health and living conditions and research into diseases. The photo on this page refers to the article on page 12 about an airbag for the elderly, developed by biomechanical engineer Dr Heike Vallery and TU Delft alumnus Filippo van Hellendoorn. At present tests are only being carried out with actors, not with elderly people.





Building blocks of blue biotechnology Beer, bread and biofuel. Biotechnological products are found everywhere, from pharmaceuticals to water purification. What characterises biotechnology at TU Delft and what are its building blocks?


artinus Beijerinck, an extremely talented yet socially awkward microbiologist, was unhappy working at the Koninklijke Nederlandse Gist en Spiritusfabriek (Royal Netherlands Yeast and Methylated Spirits Factory), aka ‘De Gist’. Observing this, Director Jacques van Marken had a laboratory set up for him at the then Polytechnic School. In 1895, this lab formed the heart of microbiology in Delft. We are talking about a headstrong man who was not set to thrive among biologists but, instead, among chemical technologists. And so emerged an engineering approach to biotechnology typical of Delft: practical insights into the physiology and ecology of bacteria, yeasts, moulds and algae, preferably expressed in numbers. And industry was never far away. Its development in more than 120 years can be summarised in five building blocks.

Selective enrichment culture

In Delft, Beijerinck is celebrated for discovering the virus, but even more so for being the founding father of ‘selective enrichment culture’. A ponderous term for a simple and effective idea: if you seek a microorganism for a certain cultivation, subject a sample from waste water or a quagmire to a strict regime, and the successful phylum will become apparent. If you are after bacteria that can retrieve nitrogen from the air, use a culture without nitrogen in the culture medium, so that only organisms that absorb nitrogen from the air can grow. Beijerinck’s concept of growth under evolutionary pressure is still applied on a daily basis. A recent success is the Anammox bacteria, which removes nitrates and ammonium (NH4+) from waste water without the need for oxygen. Another success is bacteria that grow in granules, and therefore sink more rapidly. Under the trade name Nereda, the development

is saving both energy and surface area in water purification. Evolutionary pressure has also resulted in voracious and corpulent bacteria that form bioplastics from waste water floating to the surface.

Biochemical unity

Biologists enjoy being fascinated by natural diversity. Microbiologist Albert Jan Kluyver, Beijerinck’s successor, looked beyond the variety of species and instead saw striking unity in metabolism. In 1926, he published his article Die Einheit in der Biochemie (Unity in Biochemistry). He recognised the similarity between a bacterium that turns milk sour and a sportsperson during intense physical exercise. Despite clear differences, the processes are the same: the conversion of sugar into lactic acid. Nowadays, biotechnologists assume that for nearly every chemical conversion producing energy, a microorganism exists with exactly that metabolism. ‘Microbiology is thermodynamics’ is how Emeritus Professor Gijs Kuenen summarised the field.

Process technology

The development of penicillin during World War II was comparable with the Manhattan project for the development of the atomic bomb. It had been established that more soldiers died in World War I from infections than from acts of war. Things needed to change. And that is why industrial production of penicillin was started, by growing cultures of the mould on an unprecedented scale. In Delft, staff at ‘De Gist’ listened to clandestine BBC radio reports of what was happening. With Kluyver’s help, they began working in top secret on a project with the pseudonym Bacinol, which resulted in the first yellow granules of pure penicillin being produced in 1945. After the war, Gist Brocades flourished into the largest penicillin manufacturer in the world. In 35 years’ time, productivity increased by a factor of 5,000.


Fermentors in the lab of biotechnology. This was the result of phylum selection, the addition of nutrients and higher concentrations in the reactors. This process technology naturally also became available for other biotechnological processes. DSM, the successor to ‘De Gist’, transferred penicillin production to China and India in 2005.

Recombinant DNA technology

Roughly 60 years later, Kluyver’s biochemical unity resulted in a new application after it proved possible to remove a piece of DNA from a microorganism and to functionally introduce it into another cell. Researcher Jack Pronk created a yeast cell featuring a mould gene from elephant dung. The gene that allowed the mould to convert xylose into glucose also worked in yeast. In close collaboration with DSM, a range of additional genetic modifications were conducted on the modified yeast, enabling it to convert corn waste into alcohol: i.e. biofuel. Two years ago, King Willem-Alexander opened a factory in Emmetsburg, Iowa, where DSM’s Delft yeast cells are converting hundreds of tonnes of corn foliage into ethanol every day. The factory is aiming at an annual production of 100 million litres of ethanol (with 60 million litres from corn).

Microbial genetics

1996 was a milestone for yeast researchers. Laboratories all over the world had participated in a huge project involving hundreds of millions of dollars, in

which they all charted part of the yeast genome. All of the pieces were united in 1996, creating an overview of 12.5 million nucleotides in 5,770 genes, spread over 16 chromosomes of baking yeast. Kluyver’s hypothesised biochemical unity could now actually be demonstrated in databases of various organisms.

Kluyver recognised the similarity between a bacterium that turns milk sour and a sportsperson during intense physical exercise Since then, the speed of developments in genetics verges on the incredible. DNA sequencing was a massive project 30 years ago, but is now possible using a device the size of a smartphone with a USB port. With a bit of luck, an entire yeast chromosome can be sequenced in one go. Databases of all imaginable organisms are available online for researchers to consult. DNA no longer needs to be extracted from a foreign organism. Instead, robots synthesise DNA and cultivate modified cells. The design and construction of microorganisms for a range of applications has shifted into overdrive. Beijerink’s words, immortalised in ceramics, have never been as topical: ‘Happy are they who start NOW’. <<





Healthy old age Growing old healthily is all about metabolism, and hence genes. These are conclusions drawn by researchers at TU Delft and the LUMC. Should you not be blessed with amazing genes, do not despair: the researchers are exploring what you can do to compensate.


esearchers including bioinformatics scientists from Professor Marcel Reinders’ Pattern Recognition & Bioinformatics Section (EEMCS) have have already spent more than 10 years conducting research into a group of nonagenarians, their children and partners. A total of approximately 3,500 people are participating in the Leiden Longevity Study. The team recently discovered that

nonagenarians exhibit a marginally deviant genetic make-up for a series of genes involved with the regulation of glucose, insulin and triglyceride. To some extent, they have their ‘super genes’ to thank for their old age. “The elderly people involved in the research do not necessarily lead healthy lives. And they are also not slimmer than average”, explains Eline Slagboom, Professor of Molecular Epidemiology at the LUMC. “Nevertheless, they are less susceptible to

Even without top-notch genes, you can still enjoy an admirable metabolism in later life.

numerous illnesses and they have greater resistance to infections”. By gaining an insight into the metabolic processes of the elderly test subjects, the researchers hope to find a universal recipe for healthy old age. Even without top-notch genes, you can still enjoy an admirable metabolism in later life. You just need to pay more attention to your diet and exercise. “The nonagenarians’ children and their partners – all of them middle-

aged – kept to a lifestyle regime for three months. They ate 12.5% fewer calories a day and exercised 12.5% more. Even after such a short period, molecular measurements improved across the board. The test subjects sleep better and experience less discomfort from aching joints. This applied to both the children of the nonagenarians, who are highly likely to have favourable genes, and to their partners who were not genetically blessed”.

Even after such a short period, molecular measurements improved across the board. The test subjects sleep better and experience less discomfort from aching joints “If people over the age of 60 become afflicted by all kinds of aches and pains, they often just accept it. They think, ‘It’s just part of getting old’. However, our research has indicated that there is still a lot you can do to improve your health at that age, with relatively little effort. And it still even has a positive impact if you have led an unhealthy lifestyle up until that point”. Having recorded an enormous range of variables from the test subjects, such as blood pressure, the concentration of hundreds of substances in the blood, and the structure and expression of thousands of genes, the researchers are currently tackling a mammoth task. ‘We are now using all of this data to research whether we can distinguish between different aging processes, so that we can understand why some elderly people respond better than others. Our ultimate aim is to offer elderly people tailor-made advice regarding diet and exercise’. TvD

Walking with paraplegia


The Dreamteam Project MARCH was making great progress in their mission to help a paraplegic patient to walk again. But late in September, their dreams were shattered.


ore than a year ago, 27 students started designing and building an exoskeleton that would allow a paraplegic patient to walk again. The project involves mechanical design, electronic design, a human-machine interface, electronic control systems and joint actuation. The robot ‘trousers’ are packed with sensors, controlling electronics, motors and transmissions to make everything possible. Following a presentation in March, Claudia Commijs got in touch with the team. She became wheelchair bound 11 years ago after falling off a horse. Claudia became the test pilot for Project MARCH (Motor-Assisted Robotic Chassis for Humans). The team prepared to participate in the Cybathlon, a bionic device competition held in Zurich. The contest involved various obstacles, such as standing up from a deep couch, walking a slalom, negotiating a ramp and door, walking up and down stairs and over a tilted path.

For this final element of the competition, Project MARCH had developed additional hip movement, allowing the legs to move sideways – vital for maintaining balance. A training session with Claudia was planned for late September. But before she could try it out, the exoskeleton was badly damaged when it fell out of its retainer. The team were forced to withdraw from the Cybathlon. A new generation has now stepped up, determined to do everything in their power to allow Claudia to attempt the course in Switzerland at the next Cybathlon. JW





Doctors become breast experts Soft landing


very year, thousands of elderly people in the Netherlands die following a fall. An airbag could prevent a great deal of suffering. Biomechanical Engineer Dr Heike Vallery (3mE) and Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar (AE), TU Delft alumnus and entrepreneur, are developing an airbag for the elderly. The invention was Van Hellenberg Hubar’s idea, and he calls it De Wolk (The Cloud). He has founded a company under the same name. The product should be finished in a few months’ time. De Wolk looks like a belt, and is also worn around the waist. ‘The cushions can unfurl on three sides (left, right and behind), minimising the risk of the user damaging their hip’, explains the entrepreneur. Vallery is working on a fall algorithm that predicts instability in older people to ensure that the air bag is deployed on time. To develop her model, she observed actors that let themselves fall while wearing a prototype. VeiligheidNL statistics indicate that in 2014, 88,000 elderly people were treated in A & E following a fall. 40,000 of them were admitted to hospital, and nearly 3,000 actually died as a result of the fall. TvD

Diagnosing breast disorders begins with a manual examination, but many doctors are not sufficiently confident of their knowledge of what healthy breasts can feel like. IDE doctoral candidate Daisy Veitch designed six lifelike silicone models that allow medical practitioners and students to practice manual examinations. Soft, firm, bumpy, smooth – breasts are all different. Medical students often practice physical examinations on each other, but things get trickier with breast examinations. “Even today, medical students and doctors practice manual breast examinations on silicone ‘blobs’. A piece of wood can be inserted, which is supposed to resemble a cyst or swelling,” explained Daisy Veitch. “These are extremely unrealistic. My models have various structures. Breasts vary between women, but also throughout life – before and after the menopause, for example. Medical students and doctors keen to improve their skills can now learn more about what is normal, without having to face the intimacy of working with a test subject.” An imitation pathology, such as a tumour, can also be added to Veitch’s models.

Breasts vary between women, but also throughout life The models are not designed to reduce the number of X-rays, MRI scans, ultrasounds and mammographies conducted for a diagnosis. “Thorough clinical breast research is based on three aspects: manual examination, examination of images like MRIs and mammographies, and ultimately occasionally a biopsy,” says Veitch. Veitch also runs anthropometrics company Sharp Dummies. Offering medical practitioners improved training in manual breast examination certainly does not mean that fewer follow-up examinations will be conducted. Veitch believes her models could help encourage GPs to examine patients with breast complaints themselves. “One of a GP’s roles is as a gateway to the specialist. But you would be shocked by how many GPs refer their female patients to the specialist without first conducting their own examination. Allowing medical students to train on my breast models would help to overcome this insecurity early on. Of course, practical experience is always the best teacher: four months training in a breast clinic wins hands down. Compare it to a trainee pilot: you would not put them in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 and ask them to ‘have a go’.” Veitch hopes to obtain her doctorate from the Applied Ergonomics & Design Section of Industrial Design Engineering in 2017, with her early detection simulation model for breast cancer. JB


Clean drinking water in Maputo Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, is struggling to cope with water problems, like other cities in developing countries. A shortage of clean drinking water and sanitation is damaging the health of people. TU Delft researchers are helping to develop solutions.


he relationship between Maputo and TU Delft is well established. Luuk Rietveld, Professor of Urban Water Cycle Technology launched his career there in 1987, as a civil expert at the Directorate-General for International Cooperation. He also held a teaching and research position at Eduardo Mondlane University. He returned to Delft after four years, but kept in touch with his contacts in Maputo. This is reflected in the CVs of people now working in the Mozambique water sector, explains Rietveld. They either studied or obtained their doctorate at Delft, or were taught by compatriots who had. They now own consultancies, manage water companies, work for the university or for the water sector regulatory body. There is still plenty for re searchers to do in a city housing 4 million residents. Drinking water springs are becoming brackish because too much freshwater is being removed. Groundwater is becoming polluted with nutrients such as nitrogen. And residents are sceptical of drinking or showering using purified wastewater: they do not trust its quality. Postdoc André Arsénio is supervising three Mozambican doctoral candidates examining the technical, cultural and

regulatory requirements needed to introduce separate water purification techniques for industry and agriculture, a concept that he says people accept. Farmers and companies could then reuse water that has undergone minimal purification, leaving drinking water springs untouched. The docto-

Nitrogen is an issue that urgently needs addressing ral candidates hope to present their recommendations in 2019. In the meantime, Arsénio is creating a model of nutrient flows in the city’s water management system: an abstract image of the city that could support decisions in the future. Nitrogen is an issue that urgently needs addressing. Nitrogen in drinking water can cause cyanosis in

babies, an indication that they are not receiving enough oxygen. In turn, this damages their development. Arsénio offers a rough depiction of the nitrogen flows: “Farmers fertilise their land, their crops absorb the nutrients, people eat the food and then excrete it. The majority of the city is not connected to the sewage system. Excrement ends up in septic tanks, which leak fluids. This is how nitrogen and other nutrients get into the groundwater. If that groundwater reaches the freshwater springs, the circle is complete.” Arsénio believes that solutions such as more drains and sewers or improved septic tanks would pay for themselves. “Such systems are expensive to build and maintain, but ultimately cheap, because public health costs will plummet.” SB

Doctoral candidates examining the technical, cultural and regulatory requirements needed to indtroduce seperate water purification techniques for industry and agriculture. (Photo: Luuk Rietveld)





Heart cells on a chip

I TU Delft researchers are developing a synthetic heart that will allow pharmacists to test their medicines at an early stage.

t still happens that medicines are taken off the market after a couple of years due to undesirable side effects like cardiac arrhythmia. TU Delft researchers are developing a synthetic heart that will allow pharmacists to test their medicines at an early stage. They will be able to determine whether patients with particular genetic characteristics are susceptible to side effects. The researchers are cultivating human heart cells on a chip: an electronically readable, mini-organ that beats like an actual heart. A change to the electronic signal, the electrocardiogram, once medicine has been applied can indicate cardiotoxicity. The team, headed by Professor of Microelectronics Lina Sarro (EEMCS), is part of the Institute for Human Organ and Disease Model Technologies (hMDT), a consortium established last year. TU Delft is joined by organisations including Philips, the other two Dutch technical universities, VU University Amsterdam, Utrecht University and

Leiden University. The chip developed in Delft is the first tangible result of this collaboration. The TU Delft researchers are nearly ready for the next step. “The chip needs to be marketed,” says doctoral candidate Nikolas Gaio (EEMCS). “To realise this, we are increasing the sensitivity of the electrodes and developing a user-friendly interface.” The engineers are also developing miniature sensors that can record the strength of the bond between the cells and detect the presence of certain ions. While the chip is promising, Gaio warns that it will certainly be another decade before it can replace animal models.

The electronic organ beats like a real heart Research groups around the world are working on replicating organs on chips. This follows a stem cell technology breakthrough in 2006, when researchers discovered that specialised cells can be reverted back to stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS). Using IPS technology, it is possible to take a piece of skin and reprogramme the skin cells into stem cells, before subsequently allowing these stem cells to grow into all desired cell types. TvD


Living with dementia When designing an assisted living complex, how can you ensure that people suffering from dementia feel at home? Thomas Smit addressed this question in his graduation research.


obody relishes the prospect of assisted living. Smit thinks that this is down to an image of long, dark hallways in an institutionalised environment without domestic elements, often far from the town centre. “Those suffering from dementia are segregated’, explains Smit. ‘You naturally have to protect them, but it is also important to involve them in daily life wherever possible”. And that was Smit’s focus in a case for the Baankwartier in Rotterdam. After visiting the four existing complexes, he discovered that the sequence of the spaces after entering plays a major role. “You move from a corridor into a communal area, and from there, into another corridor lined with bedrooms. The boundary between the private and communal areas is very harsh”.

Residents enjoy watching the car parks, seeing people come and go This observation led to Smit conceiving a sitting area in front of each bedroom. And accompanying the seat, a framed photograph, a picture or a cuddly toy. This makes it easier for the residents to recognise their own ‘home’ and provides them with a space for themselves. A larger seated area with windows should be created at the end of the corridor, allowing natural light to enter. Even if residents temporarily lose their bearings, they can still take solace from extensive views of the outside

world. This concept is linked to another of Smit’s observations at existing complexes: residents enjoy watching the car parks, seeing people come and go. Sounds, greenery and the smell of fresh air: Smit believes that stimuli from outdoors bring life inside. “This helps people to remain involved and deteriorate less. You ultimately want to get people in a communal living room, ideally with large sliding patio doors leading out to a balcony. Opening the doors gives people the idea that they are part of a larger whole, and not trapped in a restricted area”. Taking everything into consideration, Smit would suggest two lower floors of public areas in which residents suffering from dementia are free to roam about, up to a desk and double gates. A sports hall for schools, a crèche with its own outdoor area and a large activity hall combined with neighbourhood health care would create the necessary vitality and distraction. The three upper floors, which Smit suggests should become progressively narrower to allow space for roof terraces, would be home to the assisting living complex. This would feature a large enclosed garden, various mezzanines and a restaurant for people living in the area. The rooms would have large windows, to give the residents the idea that they are in a luxury hotel room, not a small elderly person’s room. “Perhaps that is even enough to help people feel at home. That is ultimately what it’s all about: dispelling the feeling that people are somewhere where they do not want to be”. CvU




1 Cross-section of the building 2 Multi-functional entry hall 3 Sleeping room with a view




Picturing Crohn’s disease 700,000 people suffer from Crohn’s disease in Europe alone. It is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It varies in acuteness – not only between patients, but also over time. Various levels of severity demand different treatments, although there is no complete cure. At the clinic, the acuteness of the disease is determined by examining the intestines for inflammation during a colonoscopy. During his doctoral research at the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Dr Robiël Naziroglu developed image processing methods to determine the seriousness of the illness using MRI images. His image processing techniques improved reproducibility of both the interpretation of the images and the estimation of the seriousness of the disease. The research is part of the European VIGOR++ project, which aims to create images of the gastrointestinal tract for medical purposes. JW

3D reconstruction of the bowel in MRI. (Image: Robiël Naziroglu)

Learn resuscitation with an app


hat should you do if somebody suffers a heart attack? Students are usually trained by listening to a two-hour PowerPoint presentation followed by a two-hour practical lesson with a resuscitation dummy. But listening to a teacher talk is hardly inspiring, and costs half a day of school time. The Heart Foundation was sure that there was a more efficient way. Together with the TU Delft Gamelab, they developed an app called Held (Hero). It will be introduced into lessons in October, when 12- to 15-year-old students will be set the app as homework. Through playing Held on their phone, 1 or Controleer Beltheory direct 112bePC tablet,bewustzijn they learn2the van het slachtoffer fore setting to work with the • Schud voorzichtig aan de schouders • Omstandersdummies. aanwezig? Vraag hen en vraag (luid): ‘Gaat het?’ 112 te bellen en een AED te halen • Geen reactie? Het slachtoffer is students indien beschikbaar. a After logging in, receive bewusteloos. • Alleen? Bel 112, leg de telefoon naast het slachtoffer op speakerfunctie. short introduction to resuscitation. Vraag om een ambulance. Zeg dat het slachtoffer niet reageert. Volg de instructies van de meldkamermedewerker.

Illustrations and animation videos then allow them to practice in different situations, and they are awarded points for using the correct resuscitation methods. The score tells them whether they carried out the actions in the

The most important message is: do something! correct order. The game offers constructive feedback and asks questions to test the students’ knowledge. If players do something wrong or appear to be learning too slowly, the game offers hints. The most important 3 Controleer 4 Start met 30 borstmessage is: do something! If players ademhaling compressies ‘save’ a life, ‘media coverage’ is • Leg een hand op het voorhoofd en • Zet uw handendisplayed midden kantel het hoofd naar achteren op de borstkas. om de luchtwegen te openen. •Students Duw het borstbeenneed to hailing them as a hero. • Til de kin op met 2 vingertoppen 5 à 6 centimeter in. van de andere hand (kinlift). • Doe dit 30 keer in een tempo van have played the game 20 times before • Kijk, luister en voel maximaal 100 tot 120 keer per minuut. 10 seconden. • Geen of geen normale ademhaling en bent u alleen? Haal een AED indien deze DIRECT beschikbaar is.

proceeding to the practical lesson. Teachers can keep track of progress by viewing the scores on their own screens. But so far, students are happily playing the game. Research into the impact of the game indicates that an initial group of students performed equally well with the resuscitation dummies as a group of students who had not played the game, explains project manager Heide Lukosch. Female students proved to be slightly better learners. “The participating female students were less experienced with computer games, but this shows that you do not need to be a good gamer to learn new skills.” CvU 5 Beadem 2 keer de AED 6 Gebruik On 7 December TU Delft Gamelab, maker of Held, was presented a game • Doe de kinlift, kantel het hoofd naar • Onderbreek de reanimatie zo kort achteren en knijp de neus dicht. mogelijk. • Pas mond-op-mondbeademing toe. • Ontbloot de borstkas. award by the Serious Game Society. Beadem 1 seconde zó dat • Zet de AED aan en doe altijd wat de de borstkas omhoog komt. • Beadem in totaal 2 keer. Dit mag maximaal 10 seconden het geven van compressies onderbreken. • Ga door met reanimeren en wissel 30 borstcompressies af met 2 beademingen. Als er een 2e hulpverlener is: wissel elke 2 minuten.

AED zegt. • Bevestig de elektroden op de ontblote borstkas. • Volg de opdrachten van de AED op totdat de ambulancezorgverleners arriveren en zeggen dat u mag stoppen.


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Photo: Sam Rentmeester


Genetically modified microorganisms will be produced by robots with increasing regularity, predicts microbiologist Professor Jack Pronk (Faculty of Applied Sciences).

already saw the future a few years ago, at a company called Amyris in California. Here in the Netherlands, we were still using pipettes, while they were using robots that produced thousands of yeast strains in one go. Scientists sat behind their computers, using drop-down menus to order constructs with DNA elements: promoters, coding sequences from various microorganisms, terminators, etc. DNA synthesisers created these DNA fragments and deposited them in a barcoded vial. A robot inserted the DNA into a yeast cell, and the genetically modified strains were produced. These automatically undergo product-forming testing, followed by a statistical analysis that determines which strains proceed to the next stage. And it carries on like this all day, at lightning speed. This is not science fiction. It already exists, and I expect automation and robotisation in our field – metabolic engineering – to increase exponentially in the years ahead. Metabolic engineering involves the creation and application of GMOs for the production of pharmaceuticals, raw materials for the chemicals industry and biofuels, for example. Using these methods, Amyris developed the anti-malaria drug artemisinin. This is traditionally produced using a plant called sweet wormwood. Fluctuating yields and purity meant that this drug was too expensive for patients in developing countries. In 2005, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported Amyris – at the time, a start-up comprising three postdocs – in the development of a cheap production process for artemisinin using yeast cells. They needed to rebuild the yeast, and they did. They can now produce more than 25g of product per litre, and 200 million doses of the drug are shipped to Africa at cost

price every year. It’s a clear indication of the power of robotisation and computerisation of microbiology. The next step is the production of bulk products from biological waste. Technological advances mean that it is now possible to come very close to the theoretical maximum conversion. That means you can make a realistic estimation of whether it is viable to create a certain product based on the price of the raw material, or too expensive. The low oil prices are naturally not helping our cause, but in time, it will become clear that biotechnology will play a significant role in the sustainable production of raw materials for the chemical industry and biofuels. The first examples are already here. DSM is using modified yeast to create succinic acid – used for polymers – from vegetable matter. BASF and Dupont are also producing organic raw materials for synthetic fibres. There are still major gains to be made when it comes to food. Environmental organisations and consumers – particularly in Europe – are concerned about the use of GMOs in food production. For example, a patent has been granted for a process to considerably reduce refrigeration costs and energy usage during brewing, by inserting a few bacterial genes into brewer’s yeast. However, not one single brewer has dared to use it. Our relationship with food is clearly not evolved in step, but there is also accountability inherent in rejecting technology.” JW



Ir Robert Mans recently successfully used CRISPR to simultaneously paralyse six genes in baker’s yeast.

‘The race is always on’


Researchers are rewriting the DNA of living cells using new ‘protein scissors’. Medical breakthroughs, more efficient farming and designer babies are all on the cards with CRISPR. “We already have the technology, we have to think about where we want to go with it”. TEXT TOMAS VAN DIJK PHOTOS SAM RENTMEESTER


ll of these unleashed scientific revolutions. From 1985, researchers could use the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) machine to copy and analyse small amounts of DNA. DNA microarrays came along in the late 1990s: chips used to measure the activity of thousands of genes. The human genome was completed in 2001. And now we have the CRISPR DNA scissors, facilitating genetic modifications within a few weeks that previously would have required years. The microscopic cut and paste tool is a bacterial protein. Essentially, a deadly weapon. ‘Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’ is its full name. “Bacteria use it to protect themselves against viruses”, explains bionanotechnologist Dr Stan Brouns (Applied Sciences). This microbial defence mechanism has proven to be extremely useful in the lab. The protein can be directed towards a specific place in the DNA of a human, yeast or any other organism by attaching it to a piece of guide RNA (a copy of a piece of virus gene) in advance. The scissors can be used to remove genes or add others where the cut has been made. That is what microbiologists Professor Jack Pronk and Robert Mans do to their heart’s content at TU Delft (see textbox). The experiment first succeeded in 2012 and since then, applications have developed rapidly. For example: researchers developed manipulated malaria mosquitoes

that hopefully can drive their congeners into extinction. Others showcased a pig with human genes that may be able to donate organs. The scissors may be used to tackle the blood disorder sickle cell anaemia. “And last month, human clinical trials were launched to test whether immune cells modified with CRISPR attack cancer cells”, enthuses Brouns.

Worthy of a Nobel Prize

Brouns is a CRISPR pioneer. He has been working with the protein since 2006, when the subject was just coming into scientific view. In June 2016, he switched from Wageningen to TU Delft. This year, he was glued to the TV for the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The discoverers of the miracle scissors were in with a good chance, but the prize was awarded to Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for research into autophagy. “But the time will come”, says Brouns. “The work with CRISPR is worthy of a Nobel Prize”. But hang on, should the prize not go to Brouns and his former professor in Wageningen, John van der Oost? In 2008, Brouns and Van der Oost uncovered CRISPR’s defence mechanism. In Science, they wrote that proteins recognise invading virus DNA based on RNA copies. If the protein locates a match, it sticks to the virus genome and ‘cuts it up’. Similar to how our bodies use memory T cells, the white blood cells of the immune >>



system, to combat pathogens. The researchers outlined one of the bacteria’s crucial defence mechanisms and laid the foundations for the development of the cut and paste system, which would become hugely popular in laboratories all over the world just a few years later.

Yoghurt producer in Science

“Exciting times”, says Brouns. “For a while, it looked like a yoghurt producer had beaten us to it”. In 2006, Danisco had proved a link between CRISPR proteins and the bacterial immune system. The company was contending with a virus infection in a fermentation vat in France. It discovered that some bacteria were resistant and that these cells shared pieces of DNA with the viruses. It secured a publication in Science, not bad for a yoghurt producer. “Fortunately, there were still a lot of unanswered questions. Did this bacterial immune system have a memory, did it work against RNA from DNA viruses or against the DNA itself? The article did not mention any of this”. So that is where Brouns and Van der Oost focused on. “We discovered an entire cascade of active proteins. That is why we sometimes refer to CRISPR associated proteins (Cas). Within the CRISPR-Cas system, some proteins are involved with memory formation, others with the destruction of virus DNA or the creation of the pieces of guide RNA”. “Do we deserve the Nobel Prize for our discovery?”

Dr Stan Brouns: “We discovered an entire cascade of active proteins. That is why we sometimes refer to CRISPR associated proteins (Cas)”.

Brouns chuckles. “That honour is reserved for microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, and biochemist Jennifer Doudna from Berkeley. Following our discovery, they researched Cas9, a unique protein that

‘Creating superpeople sounds alarming, but there is wide support for healing people’ – as was discovered later – is capable of both sticking to a point of orientation and cutting. Especially Doudna really went for it. In just a few years, her lab published dozens of articles in Science and Nature. The rate and quality of that research…”, sighs Brouns. “Nobody could keep up”.

Memory formation

In 2010, Charpentier asked the Dutchmen if they wanted to conduct biochemical research on Cas9. They turned down the offer. “Whether I regret the decision? No. We simply could not accept the request. At that time, when CRISPR was still just a curiosity, we neither had the funds nor the manpower to take on another research subject”. This year, Brouns switched to TU Delft. “There are 15 groups within the Bionanoscience Department with

Prof Dr Jack Pronk: “Researchers are exchanging their pipettes for computers”.

21 Fiddling with yeast

Industrial microbiologists Professor Jack Pronk and Robert Mans (Applied Sciences) use CRISPR to improve processes including the metabolism of baker’s yeast. For example, they try to make yeast digest the natural sugar xylose more efficiently and convert it into biofuel. “For 30 years, scientists fiddled with metabolism using enzymes that were cutting and pasting DNA in a test tube, the so-called restriction enzymes and ligases”, says Pronk. “Those processes were desperately slow. CRIPSR has accelerated research dramatically. We have been working on xylose fermentation for eight years. Using CRISPR, one of our doctoral candidates completed

all of the genetic modifications that we conducted during that time in just a week”. That high speed is down to the fact that various modifications can be made simultaneously. Mans recently successfully used CRISPR to simultaneously paralyse six genes in baker’s yeast. “The first time that anyone had modified so many genes in yeast at once”, says Pronk. “A record”. Pronk expects a busy future for the workhorses of modern microbiology, such as E. coli and baker’s yeast. “Seventy years of stem refinement went into using the Penicillium chrysogenum mould to boost penicillin production to the current levels. For new products, we take

expertise in advanced microscopy. Here, we can examine how individual molecules work”. “I am now focusing on the memory formation of the CRISPR-Cas system. How does the protein build DNA copies with which it recognises virus DNA? Does it make mistakes and attack itself, resulting in autoimmunity? What are the virus’ chances of escape? They can mutate so that the defence proteins are unable to recognise them. The race is always on”. Another type of race is also being run: between researchers keen to plunge themselves into developing the technology, and those who prefer to wait and see.

Ethical questions

CRISPR raises a host of ethical questions. If you genetically modify human embryos, you are affecting changes that will be passed down through the generations. You change humanity. Supporters argue that it is an extremely effective way of tackling certain genetic disorders. But what about potential side effects? And where do you draw the line? Can you create people with a higher IQ; superpeople, as it were. Should you want to? Too many question marks. That is why a moratorium has been established on using the technique on human embryos. China is not complying. Researchers at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou are fiddling with human embryos. Last year, they attempted to get rid of the hereditary blood disorder beta thalassemia. The Chine-

a different approach. If we find an organism that creates a certain substance, we can often immediately test the genetic code in a robust organism such as baker’s yeast”. “We are already witnessing a trend towards increasing automation of biotechnology. The amount of human intervention required to design and create metabolic networks in microorganisms is steadily decreasing. There are robots that conduct thousands of genetic modification experiments simultaneously. Researchers are exchanging their pipettes for computers, upon which they use handy drop-down menus to select and combine DNA fragments. Robots then create the DNA”.

se researchers were not planning to allow the embryos to develop, but the news led to a great deal of discussion. “What I think about that? Of course, there’s a huge grey area”, says Brouns. “Creating superpeople sounds alarming, but there is wide support for healing people. I think it’s foolish to rule out technology that could bring us benefits for hundreds or thousands of years”.

A brake on developments

“It is a matter of time before we can bring intelligence into the equation. We need to think about the course we want to take. We already have the technology. I think there are countries that will not stand in the way of developments like this”. Opinions on the subject are divided. Sef Heijnen, recently retired Professor of Biotechnology, does not believe it will come to that. Previously talking to Delta, he said: “There are limits to the technology. To a large extent, we can use computers to design cars and aircraft. The difference with living cells is that you are dealing with accidental processes. Once you make genetic modifications at the embryonic phase, cells develop into different tissues. Accidental mutations play a major role. We have no control over them. That is why I don’t think we will ever grasp characteristics that depend on numerous genes, such as intelligence. I don’t think we >> will ever be able to create designer babies”.



‘A completely fresh wind’


Professor of Wind Energy Gijs van Kuik is bidding farewell just as offshore wind energy is being offered at rock-bottom prices. “Everyone is surprised at how fast things are progressing”. TEXT JOS WASSINK PHOTOS SAM RENTMEESTER



May I see your hands? I would have expected more callouses and grazes from sculpting.

“Not if you do it properly. I do have a bruise under my thumbnail, but that’s because it got trapped in a door”.

The contrast between expressing ideas in stone and harnessing wind energy could hardly be greater. Was that a conscious decision?

CV After playing with aircraft as a boy, Gijs van Kuik (Mierlo, 1951) went on to study Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft. He led an activist student life and graduated in 1976. Van Kuik subsequently worked together with Gerard van Bussel as a wind energy researcher in Professor Theo van Holten’s group. He obtained his doctorate from TU Eindhoven in 1991 and started working on wind energy technology at Stork Product Engineering. In 1998, he returned to TU Delft to become a Professor of Wind Energy. Two years later, he also became Director of Research at Duwind, the interfaculty research institute. From 2006, Professor Gerard van Bussel took control of his section and Van Kuik focused on Duwind. Van Kuik starting sculpting in 2001. One of his works, ‘Brainwave’ is on display in the AE building. For other examples of his work, visit

“They have more in common that you might think. Conducting research properly is a slow process. You need inspiration, but also you need to put in the hours and practice. In both cases, the challenge is to create a polished result. A publication, an experiment and the maths should all be beautiful – elegant, with all superfluities removed. There really are more similarities between sculpture and research than you might expect”.

Let’s return to the beginning. You graduated from the Aerospace Engineering Faculty in 1976. I understand you were an activist as a student?

“I certainly was. I was a passionate member of A.A.G., as it was called back then, a progressive student association. And I was active in the Education Committee, the faculty council and the faculty board. We organised student meetings to address educational issues. We compared lectures and noticed a lot of overlap. And we published our findings. That’s when I got it in the neck. ‘Gijs van Kuik is a liar’ was printed in huge letters in the faculty magazine. The subsequent edition did feature an excuse, but in much smaller type. Apparently, we were right”.

What motivated you to participate in all those administrative bodies?

“What drove the student movement? Things just needed to change. We wanted a bigger say. We wanted to explore new approaches to how the university was run. And I took part with gusto. And that meant taking responsibility. You have to be a member of ‘dull groups’ such as the Education Committee, the faculty council, and so forth”.

After graduating, you started researching wind energy – still in its infancy. What was the reason? “I enjoyed playing with aeroplanes as a boy, and that ultimately led me here. During my degree, I gradually realised that I didn’t want to build aircraft. That wasn’t where I saw my future”.

Why didn’t you want to build aircraft?

“Like many others at the time, I didn’t feel that it was a good idea to work on something with such

close associations to the military and defence. After my Bachelor’s, I considered my options. I thought about switching to physics, but abandoned that idea. I then continued with Theoretical Aerodynamics – the most physics-based specialism within this faculty. That brought a smile back to my face”.

Isn’t Theoretical Aerodynamics very complicated?

“Yes, but that wasn’t an issue. We had just seen the back of the oil crisis and all the associated problems. Theo van Holten started a wind energy group and asked our colleague Gerard van Bussel and myself to join. For me, it was a perfect match with a completely new discipline. I couldn’t have wished for better”.

‘Within Europe, the Netherlands was notorious for abruptly halting subsidy schemes’ What were the research subjects back then?

“Van Holten wanted to develop a rotor that would generate much more energy than usual at the time. That resulted in auxiliary wings on the end of the rotor tips, for example. Together, they form an artificial ring wing that ensures that increased air mass flows past the rotor. That’s what we were researching. We found that we could indeed generate more energy, but we needed all the additional energy to counter the resistance caused by the auxiliary wings. We were not able overcome that problem”.

You do see those end tips nowadays though, don’t you?

“Yes, some models have one of those little fins. But that’s different. They are too small to produce additional energy. We moved forward with rotor aerodynamics. People joined us from Materials & Constructions and from Aero-elasticity”.

Did you have contact with the industry? I only remember the small blue Lagerwey windmills from back then.

“Lagerwey was the first in the Netherlands, but numerous other pioneering companies followed. Bouma enjoyed lengthy success, and was later taken over by Nedwind. We had Van de Pol, an agricultural machinery manufacturer that built steel Polenco wind turbines. Nedwind was eventually acquired by Vestas, a Danish company. So then only Lagerwey was left. After a couple of bankruptcies, they are now back building megawatt machines.

25 One of the bankruptcies resulted in the creation of Darwind, which was purchased by XEMC, a Chinese company. And now 2-B Energy has entered the arena, named after the two blades. Their turbine is specially designed for offshore use”.

subsidy schemes. That happened numerous times, and it put investors off. It was a completely different story in Denmark and Germany”.

So my impression that the Netherlands does not have much of a wind energy industry is incorrect?

“Yes, thankfully they have. We’ve suddenly been launched into the vanguard. Five wind farms are being built, each with the output of a large coalfired power station. Great, isn’t it!”

Why is the Dutch wind industry smaller?

“The domestic market in the other countries was far superior”.

Is that because wind energy was promoted there?

“Yes, certainly. In Denmark, you have to look hard to find a non-Danish turbine”.

Is that Danish market protectionism?

“Well, of course, you can’t put it like that. They just had a good image. So it’s logical for a Danish farmer to purchase a Danish turbine”.

Until 1996, wind energy in the Netherlands remained on the sidelines. At the most, there was only 10% of what there is now. How did you stick to it?

“A healthy dose of stubbornness. You have to remember that we operate very internationally, as do many other Delft research groups. That meant that we were not directly affected by the Dutch market lagging behind. Testing new materials is open research. We were always involved in major European programmes – often in collaboration with Danes and Germans”.

Is research separate from the industry?

“Not entirely, because a large proportion of the funding for doctoral candidates comes from Dutch sources. But the government has somehow kept a stimulus programme alive. The market was struggling, but every now and again, funds became available for technological development. People in The Hague thought, ‘If you encourage technology, the market will follow automatically’. That’s not how it works”.

What was missing?

“A government that wants wind energy and assists with logical funding instruments. The government should have taken the decision to offer long-term support to wind energy. But within Europe, the Netherlands was notorious for abruptly halting

Why the change?

“We have little choice. We’ve signed the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. We’ve entered into obligations with Brussels, and when it comes to energy management, only Malta is performing more poorly than the Netherlands. The Dutch government really has to do something. We’re delighted with Minister Kamp for ushering in the Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth. We’ll probably save face in the nick of time. What also helped is that Dutch offshore companies are building wind farms at sea for other countries. All of a sudden, VNO-NCW is now also behind wind energy”.

There’s not much work in offshore oil?

“It’s decreasing, yes. I think that Van Oord and other offshore companies have had strong words with VNO-NCW. That all helps. A completely fresh wind is blowing”.

Duwind, your research institute, predicted that offshore wind energy will cost 7 cents per kilowatt hour in 2030. The Danish company Dong has already offered that price for the Borssele park. Does the Dutch industry still have a chance?

“Yes, certainly. Dong is currently forming a consortium, to which Dutch companies can also make offers. Until now, companies first made contact before making a bid as a consortium, often following consultation with the ministry. That naturally does not result in the lowest price. Additionally, organisations such as Dong and Vattenfall have gained a great deal of experience in the construction of wind farms in the North Sea, and have now completely mastered the process. Thirdly: wind turbines are now much larger, and therefore better and cheaper. That all works in unison. But everyone is surprised, me included, at how fast things are progressing. It won’t be long before wind is the cheapest form of energy”.


“That is indeed incorrect. But it’s true that the Dutch wind industry is much smaller than that of Denmark or Germany”.

In this regard, the prevailing winds have changed direction since Minister Kamp announced five 700-megawatt offshore wind farms.




Sunrise for PowerWindow Two students dream up something handy, found a company and participate in competitions. Nothing that unusual. Until the Postcode Lottery awards them €500,000. That is exactly what happened to Willem Kesteloo and Ferdinand Grapperhaus.


t was the final of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, the world’s largest competition for plans to tackle climate change. On Wednesday, 14 September, Kesteloo and four other entrepreneurs faced the jury headed by Sir Richard Branson. Kesteloo pitched his product as practised. “Today, I would like to change your view of the world,” he began. “Have you ever considered how much glass you see every day? What if we could give that glass an additional function?” That is what techno start-up PHYSEE’s PowerWindow does. It uses a seemingly normal window to generate electricity. On a sunny

HOW DOES IT WORK? During their graduation project at the Fundamental Aspects of Materials and Energy (FAME) research group in the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Kesteloo and Grapperhaus studied infrared luminescence. A coating

day, one square metre can produce 20 watts – enough to charge a smartphone or laptop. The jury awarded the two TU Delft students first prize for their concept: €500,000. Nearly three weeks later, Kesterloo is still recovering from the shock. “We have landed on a rollercoaster, and there has been no time to let it sink in.” But they have had time to consider their next step. PHYSEE will put a large share of the money towards further research and development. They need to demonstrate to glass manufacturers that it is possible to apply the coating (see text box ‘How does it work’) essential to their concept to larger surfaces.

containing the element thulium absorbs visible light and transmits it as infrared radiation, precisely what solar panels are most effective at capturing. Complete internal reflection means that the glass conducts the infrared energy to the edges

PHYSEE also wants to establish a production line for the first series of electricity-generating window frames. Lastly, they want to invest in people with specialist expertise to take the company to the next level.


The company name PHYSEE is a contraction of ‘physics’ and ‘seeing’. But the name does encompass a serious idea. The necessity of an alternative energy supply is all too evident. Yet solutions like solar panels and wind turbines are often so monomaniacally functional that they cause irritation. Kesteloo and Grapperhaus sought a means of developing functionality in combi-

of the window, where thin strips of solar panels absorb the radiation and convert it into electricity. With light transparency of 70%, the PowerWindow can generate up to 20 watts per square metre. Although glass coatings are very common - HR++

glass has nine layers – the glass industry is conservative. PHYSEE needs to prove that their thulium coating can be effectively incorporated into the existing production process and that it does not negatively affect the other coatings.

Ferdinand Grapperhaus (in striped shirt) and Willem Kesterloo (right) generate electricity with glass.

nation with what is already available. With PowerWindow, energy production is added to window frames that are replaced during renovations. Other examples are energy-generating glass panels alongside motorways, or windows with a USB port, sensors and a WiFi connection. The data supplied by the window could then be used to improve the climate control system. Or how about windows with a graphene coating that can be used as an electric radiator? One thing is certainly clear, PHYSEE thinks in terms of added functionality.


For the time being, the PowerWindow is the primary product – both for office building projects and private clients. This autumn, ten 1.8 x 1.8m PowerWindows will be installed in the renovated Fellenoord office block in Eindhoven. OVG

Real Estate is developing the building for the Rabobank. It will then become clear how much energy the windows generate in practice. The windows are extremely expensive and heavy (more than 100 kg), but the additional costs for the coating and the strips with solar panels are relatively low. Kesteloo said, “For just €20 extra per square metre, you get windows that earn back their investment.” Of course,

PowerWindow uses a seemingly normal window to generate electricity production costs are currently still high because everything is new. Kesteloo believes that the additional electricity-generating functionality should ultimately pay for itself within about five years. “This invention can only achieve success

if it is also commercially viable. Otherwise, it will remain consigned to enthusiasts or environmental projects.” PHYSEE is in contact with project development companies in the Netherlands, but also dreams of branching out to London, the US, Asia and the Middle East. The PowerWindow really comes into its own in warm regions with high-rise offices where people want to keep more light out, which means that more electricity can be generated. “High-rise buildings in the tropics offer a more interesting prospect than renovating the Nationale Nederlanden building in Rotterdam,” concludes Kesteloo – a man whose view of the world recently changed drastically. >>



Smets has already reached over 150,000 students with his solar and sustainable energy online courses. EdX, the international platform offering these MOOCs, has named Smets this year’s best instructor. Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT Professor: “The solar energy course contributes significantly to a more sustainable world. It demonstrates his dedication to making education accessible to everyone – which is also the mission of edX.”

Professor Leo Kouwenhoven QUTECH

Professor Ronald Hanson will replace Leo Kouwenhoven at the helm of QuTech. Kouwenhoven, who founded the research institute to develop quantum computers, has accepted a position at Microsoft. After offering years of financial support to QuTech, the software giant is now funding a completely new laboratory on the TU Delft campus. Kouwenhoven will maintain his ties with TU Delft as an unpaid professor.

Professor Sef Heijnen BIOTECHNOLOGY

After ‘43 years of messing around with microorganisms’, biotechnologist Sef Heijnen is retiring. He plans to write a book about bioprocess technology, entitled Start at the End. “I don’t think that we’ll ever grasp characteristics that depend on numerous genes, such as intelligence. So I don’t think that we’ll ever be able to create designer babies”, he told Delta in an interview.

Professor Lucas van Vliet


After a period as Acting Dean, he has been fully appointed to the position as of 1 January. He became Professor of Quantitative Imaging at TU Delft in 1999, and also became a professor at Leiden University in 2012. He is also President of Medical Delta. He will be tasked with finding a new location for the Quantum Nanoscience and Imaging Physics departments, and offering education to growing numbers of students.

Five new IDE professors


his November, the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering welcomed five new professors: Catelijne van Middelkoop, Deborah Nas, Jeroen van Erp, Jos Oberdorf and Roland van der Vorst. All five started at the faculty earlier this year. They will focus on bringing professional practice into the faculty. Dean Ena Voûte says that the call to include more people from the industry comes from the grassroots. “We wanted to let the faculty know what was happening outside the university walls”, she explains. The professors will be at the university for one or two days a week, focusing primarily on education. “When just one professor is inaugurated, you can only celebrate it modestly”, added Rector Magnificus Karel Luyben. “But with five, we can pull out all the stops”. And they did: over 700 guests witnessed the inauguration event.

F.l.t.r.: Roland van der Vorst, Catelijne van Middelkoop, Jeroen van Erp, Deborah Nas, Jos Oberdorf.



hen Duinker was eight, he wanted to juggle, but didn’t know how. When juggling sets came into fashion a few years later, he finally got his hands on some instructions. Duinker taught himself to juggle at home and was admitted to Circus Rotjeknor. At the age of 15, he decided to make a career of performing. However, he did not think he would earn enough with his act. He was interested in an Industrial Design Engineering degree, but opted instead for Mechanical Engineering. “It’s a concrete version of industrial design,” he explained. He did ‘great’ in his first year, but then devoted more time to juggling. In 2006, he failed a couple of difficult subjects and had a few months of free time before he could resit the exams. He was asked to perform at Huis ten Bosch, a theme park in Japan with a life-sized reconstruction of the eponymous palace in The Hague. Duinker worked there for three months and sent a video of his performance to an agent in England.

‘My show would not have been as unique without my degree’ After completing his Bachelor’s eight years ago, he decided not to take his Master’s but to put his energy into his act instead. One week after graduating, an American cruise company offered him a lucrative contract.

He holds numerous juggling world records, has travelled the world with his show, and next year, he will spend 10 months performing in America’s leading comedy variety show: meet mechanical engineer Niels Duinker. PHOTO: SAM RENTMEESTER

After Delft

Name: Niels Duinker Lives in: Spijkenisse, temporarily moving to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Civil status: Single Degree: Mechanical Engineering Student association: Gezelschap Leeghwater

The rest is history: he now juggles all around the world, even Antarctica. When we spoke to him, he was in Greece on a luxury cruise ship with his show Gravity is a Joke, a blend of comedy and juggling. Next year, he will spend ten months in the USA. He holds various world records, including one for juggling blindfold. Duinker can name plenty of highlights: a lunch with Willem-Alexander and Máxima, his first time performing in Las Vegas, or the respect of juggling legend Freddy Kenton. “Freddy shared his otherwise wellkept secret for juggling with metal cups with me.” Duinker drew on his mechanical engineering background

and expertise in analysis and materials science to improve the cups. “I created plastic ones and now hold the world record with my act using twelve cups.” His most recent client wanted to see something unique. Duinker used mechatronics to create a machine that shoots balls containing LED lights into his juggling pattern. This distinguishes him from other jugglers. He thinks that it is short-sighted of people to assume that he makes no use of his degree. “My show would not have been as unique without my degree, and I would not be here.” CvU



OCT-15-030 Propeller propulsion with protective ring that doubles as stabiliser and aileron


Inventor: Professor Leo Veldhuis



he number of flights is rising by 5% annually. Leo Veldhuis, Professor of Flight Performance and Propulsion, believes that this will result in an ‘explosion in aircraft numbers’. He argues that unconventional solutions are required to make the planes more economical. It is now generally accepted that the slower propeller propulsion is preferable for shorter flights (80% of all flights). ‘There are huge benefits,’ explains Veldhuis. ‘Counter-rotating propellers are 25% more economical than comparable turbofan jet engines.’ However, they do make a lot of noise, and their position on the aircraft is also an issue. ‘The industry has been researching their use for decades. I’m surprised that nobody had my idea earlier.’ Veldhuis hit upon the idea that the propellers could best be placed behind the fuselage to minimise noise in the cabin. The revolutionary aspect is the ring – the duct – around the propellers. While reducing noise nuisance and the risk of the fuselage being pierced by detached rotor blades, it also assumes the function of the stabilisers on the tail. They can be removed, thus reducing the weight. Scale model testing has been promising. Veldhuis now hopes to include his idea in the NOVAIR project, which was launched on 1 December and is being partially financed with EU funds. In addition to creating design studies and computer simulations, the aim is to produce multiple scale models of unconventional aircraft, some of them electrically propelled. The main associated challenge requires a solution from another faculty: increasing the energy density of batteries. SB




Technology for Death

U Delft’s 175th jubilee is a fine moment to shut up shop. After all, in the prosperous, safe and wellnourished West, people no longer have time for engineers. Those clever folks who helped people climb mountains are no longer needed now that everyone thinks that the summit has just about been reached, and that they can now go it alone. The optimism that formed the bedrock of our joint clamber upwards has made way for pessimism; regarding the role of technology in general, and of those who know about such things in particular. Experts should be distrusted and facts are just an opinion, you know the drill. We are now doing so well, and the view from the top is so dazzling, that we have not only forgotten the blood, sweat and tears it took to get here, we also do not realise how grateful we should be for the resources that we had at our disposal along the way. There are increasingly fewer people who are willing to accept that we have cheap fossil energy to thank for much of our prosperity. Instead of parting ways respectfully, there are those who would have us feel shame. The ultimate kick in the teeth is denying the necessity. Fossil energy? That’s not really needed. Or consider food. The notion has taken root that if everyone

rolls up their sleeves, we can feed the entire world with solely natural, organic products without people being involved. While in reality, a large chunk of the global population would perish from a lack of food within a couple of weeks. Not only do 39% of girls refuse vaccination against cervical cancer, the standard infancy vaccinations are now also coming under fire. They do not save lives, they destroy lives, cry the critical masses. Why would you give a healthy child a disease? Inject my child with diphtheria; how dare you! By now, experts have learned to treat every misconception as seriously as if it came from an illustrious professor. If they do not, they are labelled a member of ‘the elite’ and pilloried. Or worse. It is somewhat reminiscent of the madness that saw women put to death for witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Turn your back on the decadent, spoilt Westerner. Close the door behind you and focus on the 795 million undernourished people around the world, the 1.2 billion without electricity, the 1.6 billion without proper housing and the 2.4 billion without access to a toilet. Help the hungry, the poor, the homeless and the sick. Help the people for whom technology still means ‘life’.

Remco de Boer is a technology & science communication specialist.



PhD parenting When Zuzana van der Werf-Kulichova defended her PhD thesis on October 25 she was 37 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. During her six year tenure as a PhD candidate, she’s had three babies. What’s her secret? TEXT: SASKIA BONGER PHOTO: SAM RENTMEESTER

Zuzana van der Werf-Kulichova : “When I started working after months of maternity leave I had a totally fresh perspective.”


t the time of the interview it is fall break, pouring with rain, and Zuzana van der WerfKulichova is at home with her three daughters aged five, four and two. The youngest is supposed to be in bed for her nap. Instead, she opens the door of their house in Delft Tanthof smiling. “She doesn’t

want to go to sleep when her sisters are around,” Van der Werf laughs. She directs the toddler to the living room in Dutch, though normally she speaks Slovak with them, her mother tongue. Both older girls are watching a Disney movie in the tidy living room. Fruit and water are on the coffee table. Their younger sister crawls onto the couch

to join them, puts the iPad on her lap and just like that, it is possible to have an adult conversation in the presence of three young children. Van der Werf is currently 36 weeks pregnant, but hasn’t had the time for decorating the nursery or enjoying any maternity leave. In a week she is defending her PhD thesis and she still


needs to prepare her presentation. She laughs when she hears that it was her promotor, Dr. Patricia Osseweijer, who shared her story. “I was 30 weeks pregnant with my first daughter when I started my PhD. At my defence I will be 37 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. Patricia provided me with a great support to finish my thesis while taking the risk that the baby may come right before my defence.” Van der Werf has been working hard to deliver her thesis, ‘The why’s and how’s of scientists’ policy engagement. The lessons from agricultural biotechnology’, before the birth of her baby. One of her committee members had some substantial comments on her manuscript. During the past three weeks she has worked 14 hours a day to significantly revise her thesis, create the book layout and deliver the final document to the printer on time. “But what I found the most difficult was to keep saying to my girls that they needed to wait another evening before I could read them a bedtime story again,” says Van der Werf.


Not all of her years as a PhD candidate were this stressful. She lists the support of her husband and his parents as a big part of the reason she has been successful. Apart from that, what’s her advice? “Don’t be afraid of imperfections, dare to take a position and just take it step by step.” Having children forced Van der Werf to work efficiently. “All the work needed to happen when I was in the office, so it did. Also, having babies provided me with natural deadlines I wanted to meet. Like now, every pregnancy I kept on working right until the end, so I had more time with the baby when they were born.” In total, Van der Werf has taken twelve

months of maternity leave and worked 32 hours a week during her five year PhD contract. The months that she spent on maternity leave were not only good for her family, but also for her PhD. “When I started working after being away for sixteen weeks I had a totally fresh perspective. PhDs are usually very focussed on their projects, including weekends and evenings. I found that being able to detach from research created opportunities for gaining new perspectives.”

‘Public sector research in agricultural biotechnology plays an important role in addressing local farmers’ needs, especially in developing countries’ All her children were wanted, Van der Werf stressed. “I know that many people think that it is hard to have children during a PhD. But I think having children is a big challenge and a great responsibility in any point in life. In fact, as a PhD, one has a lot of freedom and it is one’s attitude and one’s responsibility to decide how to approach it.” Van der Werf met her husband when they were both students of environmental sciences at Wageningen University. She arrived there in 2005 as an Erasmus exchange student from Slovakia and decided to finish her second master’s degree at Wageningen University. After her graduation, Van der Werf worked at TU Delft as a project leader of the European Commission project ‘Science for biosafety regulations’.


Her PhD is focussed on a similar topic.

Learning from the case of agricultural biotechnology Van der Werf’s thesis argues that “a successful transition to the bio-based economy requires that scientists, as socially responsible experts, become more aware of and more engaged in policy discussions regarding implementation of novel life science technologies.” To make that happen, scientific institutions should provide time, recognition and rewards for policy engagement. Scientists have an important role in informing policy making, Van der Werf found when she participated in talks about the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in 2008. “There were many representatives of NGOs and industry, while public sector scientists were far less dominant. That is a shame, because public sector research in agricultural biotechnology plays an important role in addressing local farmers’ needs, especially in developing countries.” Scientists, especially those who work in controversial science policy fields, should be present at such meetings and at other opinion-forming platforms, Van der Werf stated. “For they are best positioned to provide an overview of scientific findings and directly communicate their potential policy implications.” While talking about her research Van der Werf’s two-year-old curls up on her mothers’ lap, her eyelids heavy with sleep. Then the Disney video ends and the older girls become louder. The adult conversation is reaching its natural completion, just as Van der Werf’s PhD project will . She is happy with the result. “Of course, I could have done better, but in my opinion it is pointless to strive for perfection. That can even stop you from doing anything at all. I have done my best.” <<



HORA EST ‘Far too simplistic models of our complex and diverse world are used throughout the public debate, resulting in the proposal of far too simplistic solutions to important problems.’ Frank Drop, aerospace engineer “We rely on simple models of the complex world that we inhabit, in order to understand what actions we need to take to obtain a desirable outcome. For instance, in order to reduce crime, we build cause-and-effect models that grossly characterize the reasons for criminal behavior, and then seek to minimize these reasons in society. Building such models is difficult, given the closed-loop nature of the processes we try to understand: what is cause and what is effect? Simple models are appealing

because they propose simple interventions. However, an overly simplistic model that does not sufficiently characterize the complex situation can only prescribe wrong preventive actions. We became too rewarding of snappy, simple explanations of complex situations that fit in 60 second news reports or 140 character messages. Instead, we should acknowledge that the world is complex and reward those that provide us with information that uncover these complexities.”

Constructive criticism are of great favour to a researcher. Hassan Nemati, engineer process&energy

Criticism means someone paid attention.

Virtual testing is an oxymoron.

John Alan Pascoe, materials engineer

Annemarie Mink, industrial designer

People without a sense of humor are a threat to the human species.

World travel is not a necessary part of life but it should be.

Joshua Olaf Island, physics engineer

Odette da Silva, industrial designer

The introduction of free parking in urban areas is a bad An evil idea can be beautifully executed idea, from all points of view. (this dissertation). Giuliano Mingardo, transport engineer Odette da Silva, industrial designer

The debacle of the high-speed Fyra train demonstrates Despite limited commercial success, research and that technical problems should be handled by engineers development of fuel cell technology should be continued. rather than by lawyers. Karolis Vilcinkas, chemical enigeer

Johan Vogel, mechanical engineer


THE FIRM Parking in cities can be expensive. That is, unless you use ParkBee, a company that is promising to conquer the world with affordable parking.


‘Funding is a sensitive process’ “A Chinese man and an Englishman had an idea…” In March 2016, he left the start-up incubator to delve deeper into the world of entrepreneurship – carefully avoiding the many pitfalls that he had witnessed entrepreneurs falling into over the years. “By staying in contact with garage owners and other clients, for example. By devising a sound marketing strategy, and primarily by trying things out. But some challenges cannot be avoided. I already knew how

TU Delft is part of ) and four informal investors, to accelerate international expansion. “In five years’ time, ParkBee will be integrated into car software, and people all around the world will use us to park for less than the standard street rate”. JB Photo: Marcel Krijger

elatively cheap, good for the environment, and an attractive additional source of income for property owners. Offering parking in company premises outside of office hours (i.e. 16 hours of the day) to consumers via parking apps is one way of tackling the parking problem in large cities. It also reduces CO2 emissions of cars searching for a parking space. Parkbee was not thought up by an inventive TU Delft alumnus, but by expats Jian Jiang (China) and Tom Buchmann (UK). In 2014, they approached leading start-up incubator YesDelft to develop the technology behind the app and find someone to take control of the commercial aspects. Wouter de Bruijne, then Commercial Director of YesDelft, liked the idea. “It sounds like the start of a joke,” chuckles De Bruijne.

long the road to funding can be, it’s simply a sensitive process.” It was to be expected that the former YesDelft director would switch to working at a start-up. “But I did not want to end up in the niches that a lot of techies occupy. If I were to go for it, I needed to reach the masses. In addition to our Amsterdam office and R&D department in Rotterdam, we just opened our first international office in London. We are experiencing exponential growth – from three employees a year ago to 15 FTE now. Some 34 garages are now associated with ParkBee, offering a total of 1,800 parking spaces.” The company recently received a capital injection of €1.8 million from InnovationQuarter (the South Holland regional investment agency, which

Names: Wouter de Bruijne, Jian Jiang en Tom Buchmann Studies: MSc Business Administration, Rotterdam School of Management (Wouter de Bruijne), PhD Computational Finance, Essex University (Jian Jiang) and MSc Computer Science, Imperial College London (Tom Buchmann) Company: ParkBee Product: Affordable consumer parking in empty corporate garages Mission: ‘To offer a solution to the parking problem: affordable parking at prime locations for consumers, and additional income for property owners.’ Turnover: ‘We are expanding at an exponential rate, and breaking new records every week. I cannot share specific figures: nobody should launch a In 5 years’ start-up with only money in mind.’ time: ‘Parkbee will be integrated into car software and people all around the world will use us to park for less than the standard street rate.’




The city as an orchestra Loitering kids, rubbish on the streets; these are things that leave people feeling unsafe. But researchers think it runs deeper. “The rhythm of these neighbourhoods is out of sync”.

In Rotterdam’s Keizerswaard shopping mall, people feel unsafe.


f the rhythm and keynote of the city are out of tune, the city will feel uncomfortable. Scientists may think this sounds a touch metaphysical, but that is not a view shared by researchers from TPM. This September, they launched the City Rhythm research programme. They are examining whether they can increase residents’ sense of safety in problem neighbourhoods by utilising urban rhythms. The researchers are elaborating on the philosophy of Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991), a Marxist thinker and cultural philosopher. He presented his theory of ‘rhythm analysis’ in the 1930s, offering a new perspective on urbanism and architecture. The theory, loosely translated, states that humans have a rhythm; their breathing,

heartbeat, sleep patterns have a cadence. And rhythmic patterns can also be found in cities. Consider road users, rivers and the shops, which open and close at set times. If the human and urban rhythms are out of sync, arrhythmia occurs. And that leads to people feeling unsafe. Dr Caroline Nevejan from TPM, head of the City Rhythm project, has witnessed the theory gaining influence with cultural philosophers.


In City Rhythm, TU Delft researchers collaborate with colleagues from the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, the Amsterdam Data Centre and councillors representing six municipalities:

Zoetermeer, Helmond, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Zaanstad. Each city has designated a pilot neighbourhood for research set to run for one year. City rhythms change rapidly, explains Nevejan. “We no longer work from nine to five, the shops no longer close at six o’clock. But there are new rhythms. At twelve o’clock, lots of mothers arrive fifteen minutes early to pick their child up from school, and in the evening, we use the internet en masse. But we have yet to act on the rhythms and adjust policy accordingly.” What type of interventions could be considered? “Perhaps adjusting the route of a local bus according to the neighbourhood rhythm, or the surveillance schedules of policeman on the beat,” says Nevejan. “And if you know that lots of parents will be on the streets at certain times, you could adjust the lights at pedestrian crossings to give people more time to cross.” The research team plans to use open data sets and information drawn directly from the neighbourhoods. Traffic data, for example, and data on mobile telephony and energy usage.


For the first six months, students at TU Delft, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University will play a major role. Some 43 students from the joint Responsible Innovation minor will gather data and conduct fieldwork. They study a wide selection of subjects, ranging from medicine and civil engineering to business administration and TPM. Dozens of students in a TPM lecture hall are dying to share their initial findings with the rest. They spent the previous days in the neighbourhoods, gauging whether the residents felt safe. Defining the problem turns out to be more difficult than expected. Students researching the Bijsterveld neighbourhood in Helmond recognise the challenge. “Research conducted by the municipality indicates that residents feel unsafe,’ says one student. ‘But our questionnaire – we interviewed 20 residents – indicates the opposite.” “You need to change your question”, suggests another student. “The residents and councillors apparently do not communicate effectively, and this has resulted in a misunderstanding.” Where does rhythm come into all of this? PhD candidate Pinar Sefkatli, a student supervisor who conducted her own research into rhythm in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), explains that rhythm concerns more than timing. “Rhythm is about reaching common ground. Culture is part of rhythm. If people do not understand

each other, the rhythm is disrupted.” And this appears to be a common occurrence. For example, in the Vensterpolder neighbourhood in Amsterdam Zuidoost, single mothers struggle to find employment, do not receive training and are on the fringes of society. “Initiatives have been launched to assist these women,’ says a student on the Amsterdam team. “But they are not aware of them. They live from day to day. Their rhythm is not in sync with that of the municipality.”

‘Culture is part of rhythm. If people do not understand each other, the rhythm is disrupted’ The students encountered a lot of misery. The youths of Zaanstad are scaring away the older residents. In Rotterdam, fear hangs in the air at the Keizerswaard and Alexandrium shopping centres. And in the Escamp district of The Hague, residents are concerned about the arrival of asylum seekers.


Nevejan explains that the curriculum consists of interactive lessons, value-sensitive design assignments. “The students run the show. I supervise their organisation of discussions and design assignments for and with each other.” The students get stuck in. “A business case for Helmond? No problem, I’ve got that covered,” says one student. “We’ll open a shopping street with coffeeshops and brothels. Not much happens in Helmond, so we need to introduce a bit of action.” And how do we deal with the Escamp residents’ fear of asylum seekers? “Use virtual reality. Show the residents what it is like in Syria. Then they will realise how well off they are.” It turns out that rhythm is a broad concept. Is this frivolity? “No,” answers Nevejan. “This is freethinking. And that is difficult, but it underpins innovation.” Nevejan has seen that students struggle with freethinking. “And that is understandable,” she says. “University students nowadays often learn compliance. But the university is not a biscuit factory. Students need to leave their comfort zone.” << Read all the student’s recommendations on:

Olaf van Campenhout is TU Delft’s Best Graduate TU Delft’s Best Graduate for the 2015-2016 academic year is Olaf van Campenhout of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (AE). He graduated cum laude with a final mark of 9.5, while also obtaining a Master in Chinese Economics from Erasmus University.

Photo: UfD

V Olaf van Campenhout found out that the drag reduction is very sensitive to in-flow conditions.

an Campenhout investigated the potential drag-reducing properties of dimpled surfaces, such as you see on golf balls. He found that the drag reduction is very sensitive to in-flow conditions, meaning the flow you feed over the surface. “You’ll find this type of flow anywhere: on your car, over cycling people, in pipelines, underneath ships, and so on. It therefore has the potential to reduce resistance in a variety of applications and therefore it also has consequences for the economy, environment and industrial competitiveness”, explained Van Campenhout. “Theory and tested, relevant to environment and business, patent pending, and dimples everywhere”, head judge Anka Mulder summed up Van Campenhout’s work and announced him the winner. In addition to a medal, he received 2.000 euros prize money, a KIVI Membership and a Dell laptop. Delft University Fund has been organising the Best Graduates Award since 1989. The price encourages and recognizes talent and gives exceptional students the spotlight that they deserve. In this way, students are inspired to be the best they can be.

Alumni mentor pilot off to a flying start

The pilot phase of a new programme introduced by the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering to couple alumni mentors with students has been welcomed with enthusiasm. A total of 100 students and 84 alumni have registered, and another 40 students have already signed up for the second round (March to July 2017). The AE Mentor Alumni Programme (MAP) helps students to consider their future after graduating. MAP offers alumni the opportunity to give something back to their

former faculty, to improve their coaching and consultancy skills, and to hear refreshing student ideas away from their own companies. The faculty hopes that the programme will facilitate the development of a valuable, enduring network for students and alumni. MAP also helps the faculty to maintain existing contacts and to

invest in forging new relations with alumni all over the world. In turn, this offers new collaborative opportunities in the field of education and research.

St Nicholas at Alumni Chapters On 5 December, alumni all over the world came together to raise a glass to St Nicholas. They received a special St Nicholas package from the Netherlands, filled with typical Dutch festive goodies. At locations flying the Delft flag and those where TU Delft collaborates with TU/e and Twente University as part of Dutch Engineer Alumni, alumni were welcomed for drinks, to reminisce and to strengthen their local network.



Good Friends of the Delft University Fund meet in a hypermodern facility


drinks reception in the Atrium, the guests proceeded to the study spaces, which had been transformed into a grand dining room. After words of welcome from chairman Michael Wisbrun and director Evelyne Esveld, keynote speaker David Abbink inspired the guests with a rousing speech on developments in robotics and the challenging future that lies ahead: the Robotics Institute and Robo Valley. Following the Dinner, discussions continued during a dessert buffet in the Atrium. More information If you would like to find out more about Good Friends, please contact Machteld von Oven via +31 (0)15 278 6409 or

Photo: UfD

fter three successful editions, the Delft University Fund organised the fourth annual Good Friends Dinner. With this event the Fund wants to thank its special relations for their involvement and support for the Fund (and hence, for TU Delft). This year’s Friends Dinner was held in the brand new, state-of-the-art low-vibration Applied Sciences building, testament to innovative education and first-rate research. The Robotics and Team iGEM masterclasses prior to the Dinner were extremely popular, offering insight into the current educational trends at TU Delft. The audience keenly listened to presentations outlining how their contributions are helping students and researchers. Following a lively

Alumni Activities 13 January 175ste Dies Natalis TU Delft 13 January Alumni reception Mechanical Engineering – Gezelschap Leeghwater 14 January New years reception alumni mathematics and computer science 19 – 20 January PhD symposium Aerospace Engineering

Careers advice

Alumni who graduated within the last five years can come to the TU Delft Career Centre for one-to-one careers advice. Then make an appointment with Maaike Mulder-Pol via the TU Delft alumni portal. Consultations last one hour, are held in Dutch or English, and take place at the TU Delft Career Centre. If you are abroad for a long period, the consultation can be held via Skype.

CONTACT Do you have questions or comments, or would you like to pass on a change of address? Alumni Relations TU Delft:

Support the talent at TU Delft and become a donor to the Delft University Fund.

The Good Friends Dinner took place in the brand new Applied Sciences building.



The lab of...


Sanitary Engineering

Sara Toja Ortega is an intern from Spain, working on the bioXtreme project at the Department of Water Management (CEG). Her research involves the study of anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBRs) used for the treatment of industrial wastewaters that contain toxic compounds such as phenols, under extreme conditions (i.e. high temperatures and salinity). Her focus is on the analysis of the microbial populations responsible for the biotransformation of these compounds, for which she takes periodic measurements of the biomass and the treated effluent to assess the microbial activity.

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