18 May 23, 2013 | year 55
Biweekly magazine of the Eindhoven University of Technology For news: www.cursor.tue.nl and follow tuecursor on andmm
5 | A compression stocking for spinal tissue 2 Asia week
3 Itâ€™s time for Brainport 2.0
4 Dutch Technology Week
2 | For Starters
May 23, 2013
Colophon Editor in chief Han Konings
Executive editor Brigit Span
Editorial staff Judith van Gaal Tom Jeltes | Science Frits van Otterdijk Norbine Schalij Monique van de Ven
Staff Nicole Testerink Gerard Verhoogt
Photography Rien Meulman Bart van Overbeeke
Cover Bart van Overbeeke
Translation Annemarie van Limpt (pages 2,3,5) Benjamin Ruijsenaars (page 4)
Layout Natasha Franc
Come November, TU/e will be audited by a committee that will score the quality of education at our university. Are our lecturers sufficiently skilled, can our quality be monitored easily, and what do we do to remain a high-quality institution? Should we receive an admirable grade for our efforts, then future audits for each department individually will be much more lenient. Preparations for the audit are well underway and yesterday a meeting was called at which participants were free to come up with topics, a phenomenon that’s dubbed ‘open space’. And holy mackerel, it worked! A little under a hundred lecturers, students and policymakers entered into discussions about a variety of topics. No hidden agendas, no incessant whining, no envy, but open-minded conversations concerning didactic issues and possible solutions. Afterwards, the majority agreed that this was a perfect way to have a discussion, and a most valuable experience.
Clmn Live in Moment
Han Koning s, editor in
Unfortunately, most attendees were usual suspects. I therefore propose to organize one of these open spaces every year. I’d say we have more than enough topics to talk about. The departments and services appoint delegates - yes, that uncompromising cynic, too - and we could even award students who attend with a credit or two. Because it turns out it can be quite refreshing and enlightening to have a peek at another group or department and meet colleagues and fellow students in the wild.
Editorial board prof.dr. Cees Midden prof.dr. Hans Niemantsverdriet Angela Stevens- van Gennip Thomas Reijnaerts Arold Roestenburg Anneliese Vermeulen-Adolfs
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Rewwwind www.cursor.tue.nl Ceres is Building of the Year 17 May 2013 - TU/e’s Ceres building was named last week as Building of the Year by the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA). The building is home to the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, and also houses the activities of the Eindhoven Multiscale Institute and the Eindhoven Polymer Laboratories. A total of twelve buildings were
It’s already almost 3 years ago now, but I still remember my first day at TU/e. During those days, I was nervous and very shy to initiate conversations. The lecture rooms and students around me were all new and different. Students were from different cultures, speaking different languages. Everyone seemed indifferent to each other. But shortly, everyone started sharing, expressing, and caring. And soon weird things about them were not weird anymore. We all started our journey of master education and my class became my family. When I think of it now, it just feels like yesterday when I started going to lectures with my classmates. On the one side, I have all the joy of completing my masters, but on the other side I feel sad about not being in the university anymore. There was everything: endless fun, haunting tensions, overnight assignments, discussions, joy of passing with 10 and sometimes sadness of failing with 5.5. There are hundreds of activities going on in and out of this university.
Sukalp Bho ple, mas Security at ter Computer TU/e
It is possible through different associations, cultural centers and the enthusiastic TU/e community. For instance, this week is an ‘Asia Week’. Times like these are amazing times to go out of your study-nests and participate. Understand different cultures and make friends from all over the world for life. During university, although I participated in many activities, I have had a feeling that I’ve missed a lot of other activities. I wish I had a little more time to do it all. I hope you make it your lesson and start participating more and more. I am sure that different associations and creative activity centers within but not only limited to TU/e will be always eager to welcome you. Cheers!
Our Rewwwind feature provides you with snippets of last week’s news. What happened online after the previous Cursor magazine was published?
Asia Week: Asia in the spotlights nominated for the award. Ceres was designed by diederendirrix architects.
22 May 2013 - A performance by Laura Fygi, Japanese percussion, a cricket tournament, and lots of musical nights - the organization of Asia Week spared no expense. TU/e will be hosting several events on campus as well. The second edition of the Eindhoven event started May 19, and the opening event attracted over 800 visitors.
The full program can be found at www.asiaweek.nl.
The people behind the news
Yan Li: “Asians know how to enjoy life” Yan Li is a doctoral candidate at Electrical Engineering and chairman of the Association of Asian Students and Scholars in Eindhoven. He takes pride in Asia Week, to which his association contributed a great deal. From June 19-26, it’s all about Asian culture in Eindhoven. TU/e will be hosting several events as well. What do you feel is important during this Asia Week? “I’m from China myself, from a village called Baoding. It’s located approxi-
Yan Li. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
mately 150 kilometers from Beijing. I’ve noticed that the Dutch only see part of China. People ask me about Chinese politics quite often, about the elections for example. But China is so much more than that. We feel very strongly about art and culture, as well as our food. It’s really important for the Chinese to sit down, share food, and chat. We’ll be focusing on a number of cultural topics this week as well, including traditional dance and food for visitors to try. It gives us a chance to showcase other aspects of Asia.”
What do you think are the main differences between Asians and the Dutch? “In general, the Chinese are not as open. A colleague once told me he had trouble determining my mood based on my facial expression. I also feel that the Chinese know how to enjoy life. A lot of Dutch people hit the gym after work, while in China and other Asian countries we tend to prefer hanging out with friends. Or sometimes we go for a massage. Smiling: “To me, that’s more relaxing than a sweaty workout.” (JvG)
For Starters | 3
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Vox Academici Prof.dr. Sjoerd Romme, professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Department of IE&IS
How can the Brainport region best present itself? After having been declared the world’s smartest region in 2011-2012, now is the time for the Brainport region to unite, especially if it wants to fulfill its role as authoritative innovator. This recommendation was published in the report ‘Strong rule in Brabant’. The joint future view is ambitious: Brainport wants to enter into the world’s top ten regions regarding technology, innovation, and creativity. Unfortunately, it seems that due to the abundance of collaborations and knowledge institutes, there is no consensus on the direction to take. What can Brainport do to live up to its name as a respected knowledge region?
“It’s about time for Brainport 2.0”, says Sjoerd Romme, professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Department of IE&IS. “In the past ten years, the region did a fairly good job of acting on joint ambitions. But now we definitely need a new impulse. Other national and international regions are on the up and up, but Brainport still doesn’t know how to properly market itself. It’s suffering from a nerdy image and we’re not as attractive to young people as Amsterdam, for example. Besides, regions don’t build their image and branding in years, but rather in centuries. Well-respected regions like
Amsterdam and Cambridge have worked on establishing their image for ages; it’s not something that’s fixed in a decade or so. Still, Eindhoven is on the right track. Internationally especially, Brainport is doing increasingly well.” “The greatest challenge Brainport is facing lies in its knowledge infrastructure. Large part of that infrastructure -think TU/e and TNO- receives public funding and is under pressure. As far as businesses are concerned, the knowledge infrastructure in this region is still too dependent on a few major companies of which we’re not even sure whether or not they’ll still be here twenty years from now. Take Philips, for example. It’s mainly investing in production and research facilities in Asia and other parts of the world. So we’ll have to focus on the development of alternatives, meaning at least two major new system companies with their respective supply chains. Apart from that, this region is missing clout from its local government. The recent advisory report ‘Strong rule in Brabant’ only offers a limited solution to the problem by dividing Southeast Brabant into thee ‘cities’. To me, a potential three-way division of Southeast Brabant is too easy. Looking at municipal services and facilities there’s so much to gain, but
then all Southeast Brabant municipalities should merge into one Great Eindhoven.” “On the other hand, we need a solid base and livability standard on a neighborhood, district, and village level: the local democracy must be enforced, or else municipalities and citizens will drift too far apart. That’s currently the number one fear of smaller municipalities: will Eindhoven overrule their interests?
“It’s about time for Brainport 2.0”
“Finally, improved coordination of the various collaborations - preferably through a political body - should pave the way for Brainport 2.0. There are dozens of local initiatives concerning open innovation and cooperation, and that’s part of what our region does, of course. The local government should facilitate such initiatives, but also invest in the promotion of a joint ambition. Keep talking to citizens and things will unfold as they should. We can’t just sit there and wait, especially not now. Eindhoven is a wonderful region to study, work, and live, it’s time for us to be proud of that.” (NT)
It has to be clear that investments in the Eindhoven campus aren’t made at the expense of garbage collection in Eersel or the restoration of roads elsewhere. With elected representatives and neighborhood associations the void between individuals and municipalities could be filled. There are a number of solutions for an advanced democratization of local government, and I think experimenting with that is the key to Brainport 2.0. However, that would mean municipal organization have to be prepared to make a U-turn. It’s up to them to follow the region and be innovative as well.”
All about Asia The opening of Asia Week at the Park Theater last week was attended by more than visitors. It’s the nd edition of the event, featuring dozens of Asia-themed activities all over Eindhoven. The Association of Chinese Students and Scholars in Eindhoven (ACSSE) is responsible for most of the event organization. ACSSE has some members, approximately of which study or work at TU/e. The opening event included a performance by the Chinese Dance Group, which also has members from TU/e.
TU/e has a large Asian community. In September of 2012, TU/e saw a student influx of Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, and Asians from other countries. There are currently Chinese, Indians, Indonesians and Vietnamese working at TU/e.
13 184 86 27 16 www.asiaweek.nl
Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
4 | Zoom in
May 23, 2013
Dutch Technology week from May 31 thru June 7
A glimpse of the Brainport DNA Text | Monique van de Ven Photo | Bart van Overbeeke Illustration | David Ernst Find out how exciting and thrilling it is to collaborate on inventions that change the world. You can do so during the second Dutch Technology Week, in and around Eindhoven from May 31 thru June 7. TU/e has an important contribution to the program with the TU/eXperience Public Day.
Technology is challenging, fun and full of opportunities for work, study, entrepreneurship and investments. That is the core message which Brainport Development -organizer of the Dutch Technology Week (DTW)- and partners want to promote during the second edition of the event, which attracted some 25,000 visitors last year. It is intended to be a week full of technological surprises, attention being focused in particular on the contribution from Brainport: ‘All the inhabitants of this region, the Netherlands and the rest of
the world need to know how special this region is’. Ester Bolkestein from the TU/e Communication Expertise Center thinks it is fully justified that there was going to be a major technology event, in imitation of the meanwhile famous Dutch Design Week. “Technology is one of the pillars of this region, it’s in our genes. Understandably, the call for such an event came especially from the triple helix itself - from companies, the government and knowledge institutes.
High Tech Discovery Route | Saturday June 1 Eight technology companies in the region are giving visitors a glimpse behind the scenes today. With its strategic areas Smart Mobility and Health, TU/e is represented at the AutomotiveCampusNL in Helmond and at Philips Healthcare in Best respectively. Access and shuttle service to and between these ‘hotspots’ are free.
Everybody has put their shoulders to the wheel straight away.” Bolkestein has noticed that as a result of the DDW, parties in the Brainport region “manage to find each other more easily and like to exchange ideas about activities and the total program. This event has a positive effect on the whole climate”.
“Everybody needs to know how special this region is” For TU/e Bolkestein thinks the DTW is predominantly “an important platform to show some of the many things we are doing here”. By no means does she have the feeling as if the annual TU/eXperience Public Day last year was overlooked due to the multitude of DTW activities. On the contrary. She thinks that the day last year attracted
a conspicuously large number of newcomers, “people who have no relation with TU/e. The DTW apparently succeeded in lowering the threshold for a visit to TU/e. ‘I would probably never have come here otherwise’, was the comment heard from many visitors”. The CEC official thinks that the shift of the event on the calendar -from the autumn to the spring- did not have any major consequences either. “Admittedly, now, on June 2, we are in a slightly busier period as far as events are concerned. This year too, we’ll have to wait and see how things will turn out.” Bolkestein expects that the Public Day and the RoboCup, scheduled in
Eindhoven later in the same month, can boost the interest in both events.
“Parties in Brainport find each other more easily thanks to DTW” “At any rate we are going to devote a lot of attention to the RoboCup on the Public Day, and there will be many robots for everyone to see.”
hole The w m a r g pro DTW: of the
TU/eXperience Public Day | Sunday June 2 For many years this event has attracted several thousands of visitors: the Public Day, on which the university opens its doors to young and old. The event, which will be staged in various TU/e buildings from 12.00 to 17.00 hours, is one of the big crowd pullers during the DTW weekend for the general public. The program features all kinds of activities, demonstrations and (children’s) lectures. Admission is free. See www.tue.nl/experience for the whole program.
TEDx Brainport | Tuesday June 4 ‘Making the Future: People, Planet, Purpose’ is the theme of the third edition of TEDx Brainport. In various lectures attention will be given to some of the world’s biggest problems, such as famine, disease and climate change. Speakers from TU/e are professor Maarten Steinbuch (Mechanical Engineering, Automotive) and student coach Marina Toeters (Industrial Design, Wearable Senses). There will also be a presentation by the Solar Team Eindhoven. In addition, a jury has selected several pitches of students who can give presentations during TEDx. They include TU/e students Jacqueline Vonken and Mirjam van Laarhoven (Mechanical Engineering), who will discuss ‘how to get and keep women in science’. Look for more information on www.tedxbrainport.nl.
Night of the Nerds | Thursday June 6 ‘Certified’ nerds will perform during a festive night in the Klokgebouw on June 6. Augmented reality, high-tech fashion, gaming, 3D printers, robots and sensor technology are just a few of the technologies featuring that night, among others in crash courses and nerd talks. The night, which will begin at 18.00 hours, is intended for boys and girls of 15 and older. Tickets are five euro (for schools free tickets are available), look on www.nightofthenerds.nl.
Quiz Night XL | Friday June 7 This year the Klokgebouw will be the backdrop for the second Quiz Night XL, the closing event of the DTW. It can accommodate 1,250 quizzers, who will enter into a clever battle in teams of five persons max. The theme is ‘Science & Technology’, but the questions will cover a broad range. The interactive quiz will be presented in Dutch as well as in English. TU/e sponsors the event and will make 75 tables available so that students and staff members can compete free of charge. Registration is possible via http://forms.dtw.tue.nl/InschrijvenEN. The Quiz Night XL starts at 7.30 p.m., look for more info on www.quiznightxl.nl.
Research | 5
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A compression stocking for spinal tissue Approximately eighty percent of people will suffer from lower back pains at some point in their lives. Apart from affecting the person in question, back pain also leads to substantial economic loss due to absenteeism or even disability. By wrapping human spinal tissue in a sort of compression stocking, doctoral candidate ir. Bart van Dijk created a model system that could bring us one step closer to a cure for back problems. Right now, remedies for chronic back pains are almost exclusively rather drastic ones, says Bart van Dijk. “For early back pains, a doctor may recommend physical therapy and pain killers, but if things haven’t changed after a year, there’s really no other choice but surgery.” Surgery either involves the removal of an invertebral disk and connecting adjoining vertebrae, or replacing the cartilage with a plastic implant. Still, that’s no guarantee for a life without back problems. “Both operations know a sixty to eighty percent success rate. And fixing the vertebrae will limit a person’s agility.” You’d think all this is reason enough for finding better cures for lower back pain. Therapies aimed at stimulating cells to produce new, healthy tissue on their own could offer a solution. However, Van Dijk says there’s still fairly little money available for research into new treatments. “It probably has to do with the fact back pain isn’t life-threatening, as opposed to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Our research field is therefore a small world with a limited budget.” An additional complication is that most lab animals aren’t really suitable as ‘animal models’. Lower back pains are usually the result of worn invertebral disks, which are composed of a jelly-like core surrounded by a ring of fibrocartilage (the annulus). Just like all cartilaginous tissue, the invertebral disks can’t recover from wear. ‘Notochordal cells’ might play
a role here. These cells are remains of the notochord, the embryonic predecessor of the spine, and disappear from people’s bodies at a young age. The invertebral disks of lab animals such as mice, rats, rabbits, and pigs do keep these cells. For that reason, using (tissue of) these animals for researching lower back pain doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are other animals that go without notochordal cells in their invertebral disks as well, including cows and certain dog breeds like dachshunds and beagles. “Those breeds are more prone to back pain than other dogs, which is why it seems likely the problems are related to the disappearance of these cells.” Apart from the ethical objections and the costs of larger lab animals, the in vitro experiments - in a bioreactor -with damaged tissue of human donors has Van Dijk’s preference.
“Man is the best animal model” “Man is the best animal model”, says the biomedical engineer. “The challenge is to keep the human tissue alive in an artificial environment. And for that, you have to be able to imitate the natural conditions as accurately as possible.” The high concentration of negatively charged proteins in the tissue of invertebral disks is one of the most challenging aspects, because they
cause a high osmotic pressure: nature automatically wants to balance the concentration of dissolved substances, and so the tissue attracts water. “If you don’t try to stop that from happening, the tissue in the reactor could swell up to three times its original size. This affects the tissue structure and causes certain proteins to seep out.” Tissue that’s swollen because of osmotic pressure in a reactor differs from natural tissue in so many ways that it’s no longer suitable for research purposes. While other research groups are studying the full invertebral disk, Van Dijk and his colleagues at Orthopedic Biomechanics chose to focus on its jelly-like core exclusively - from cows or deceased donors who suffered from back conditions - and transfer that to the bioreactor. This system is easier to manage, which is an advantage. However, the disadvantage is that the lack of a natural embedding in a ring of cartilage allows the tissue to swell uncontrollably if it wants to. The solution to that is one of Van Dijk’s most important research results. In short, he put the tissue that was to be studied, a “lump of watery chewing gum” measuring about a cubic centimeter, into a kind of sock made of dyneema, a super strong synthetic discovered by prof dr. Piet Lemstra, former dean of the Department of Chemical Engineering at TU/e, at DSM in 1979. Van Dijk: “The material is stronger than steel and will not stretch. It’s a custom-made sock. We had it knitted, in a way, by a producer of compression stockings. Parts had to be sewn by hand, because the needles in the sewing machine weren’t strong enough for the dyneema thread.” The sock is wrapped around the tissue in three layers and then sewn shut, says Van Dijk. “We’re the first in the world to have implemented this method.
Tissue from the invertebral disk is put in a sock-like wrapper made from dyneema to prevent swelling. Everything is then immersed in a culture medium and held in place by a steel cylinder. Illustration | Anthal Smits
Bart van Dijk. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
It’s cheaper than working with entire invertebral disks, and more stable at that. A complete disk has a life expectancy of no more than three weeks, but the cow tissues we’ve used are good for at least six weeks, and maybe even much longer.” Towards the end of his PhD research, Van Dijk treated affected (worn) tissue from the core of the invertebral disk, taken from donors aged sixty to eighty years old, with a so-called growth factor. “It’s an enzyme that stimulates cells to produce tissue. Unfortunately, I must admit results are not spectacular yet. Only in half the cases a growth-factor injection had a positive effect. And we already used a rather high dosage, comparable to hitting the cells with a sledgehammer.” Prior to the experiment, it was feared that the injection would make the cartilage cells behave like bone cells, and start creating bone. “And in living patients, that’s definitely a risk. But it hasn’t occurred yet. To be able to expose the tissue to those growth factors for an extended period of time we’ve also worked with a kind of injectable pill that released the working substance at intervals. But that led to such low
concentrations that we couldn’t record any effect whatsoever.” So Van Dijk didn’t succeed in discovering a promising therapy himself. Still, he’s positive about the model system in the compression stocking. The only problem with that method is that affected human tissue still leaks proteins, while that doesn’t happen with healthy cow tissue.
To prevent distention, he put the tissue in a kind of sock “Growing sick tissue has turned out to be even harder than growing healthy tissue, and we don’t know whether that has to do with the tissue itself of the method we’re using. As soon as we’ve solved that issue we’ll have a perfect model system to test all kinds of therapies. My successor is working on several new tests using this method already.” (TJ)