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1 September 6, 2012 | year 55

Biweekly magazine of the Eindhoven University of Technology For news: and follow tuecursor on Twitter and Facebook

4 | New beginnings 2 Brain matters

3 The cyberheart is near

11 University news

2 | For Starters

September 6, 2012

Different fall, different note

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 Enith Vlooswijk

Photography Rien Meulman Bart van Overbeeke

Cover Bart van Overbeeke


It’s hardly fair that fall comes knocking a mere three weeks after the start of the new academic year. Excited first-year students barely started their new adventure, delayed students barely made themselves the solemn promise to actually finish their Bachelor’s or Master’s this year, and boom: days are growing shorter, leaves start browning. Why don’t we start the year on April 1 nature awakening, the sun energizing us once again. And whoever realizes they picked the wrong study, can always laugh it off saying it was an April fool’s joke. Despite the imminent fall, the Cursor staff wanted to cherish that springlike feeling, and decided on ‘a new beginning’ as the theme for this issue. Even my new picture reverberates the theme (although I have to admit my teeth have been bleached digitally). So, what’s new? New management, new buildings, a new educational model, over eighteen hundred new students, and Cursor has a new

Rewwwind Clmn Our Rewwwind feature provides you with snippets of last week’s news. What happened online after the previous Cursor magazine was published?

Han Koning s

editorial formula once again, including new features, a new cartoonist and a lot of new student columnists. And, not insignificant: Cursor has a new website! Daily news articles are more well-organized, there’s an instant comment feature for every article, a weekly poll, direct links to Facebook and Twitter, and all previous paper issues can be searched and read digitally. In other words: we’re ready, bring on the first fall storm.

Fifty percent more girls September 3, 2012 - So far (reference date August 31), 1,308 freshmen have enrolled at TU/e. The number of new female students has increased by no less than fifty percent: in 2011, the number was a little under two hundred, and this year it’s over three hundred. The number of first-year male students increased by five percent and is now over one thousand. Master programs

will be welcoming an another five hundred students as well. Rector prof. Hans van Duijn announced these numbers during the opening of the academic year at TU/e on Monday afternoon, September 3, 2012. Last year, 240 international Master students and 25 international Bachelor students enrolled, while this year those numbers were 220 and 60 respectively.

Annemarie van Limpt Benjamin Ruijsenaars

Layout Natasha Franc

Editorial board prof.dr. Cees Midden (voorzitter) prof.dr. Hans Niemantsverdriet Angela Stevens- van Gennip Thomas Reijnaerts (studentlid) Arold Roestenburg Anneliese Vermeulen-Adolfs (secretaris)

Address editorial office TU/e, Laplace 0.40 5600 MB Eindhoven tel. 040 - 2474020 e-mail:

Petty potty It came to our attention by accident. A student told us MetaForum had a hole in the ground instead of a ‘decent’ toilet bowl. The news was met with slight disbelief at the Cursor office; I even remember considering April Fool’s. Yet after a tour of MetaForum in light of our new item ‘Focus’ (pages 14-15), I had to conclude it does indeed feature a squat toilet. And is it really that odd? The longer I think about it, the more I feel my initial reaction might have been a little petty.

TU/e Education Awards September 3, 2012 - At the opening of the academic year, Rector Hans van Duijn announced the winners of the Education Awards. Gert-Jan van Heijst, professor of Turbulence and Vortex

Student of Built Environment hoping for top-three spot at world championships

Tom Jeltes

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Print Janssen/Pers, Gennep

Advertisement Bureau Van Vliet BV tel. 023 - 5714745

Dynamics at the Department of Applied Physics, won best Bachelor Award. Maarten Merkx, associate professor of Biomedical Chemistry, won best Master Award.

© 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior consent of the editor-in-chief. The editorial staff reserves the right to alter submitted articles.

August 31, 2012 - Lisa Scheenaard, master student of Built Environment and member of student rowing association Thêta, will be representing the Netherlands during the World University Championships Rowing in Kazan, Russia. Lisa is hoping for a top-three position.

Brainmatters Psychology is becoming ever more important at TU/e. Technical systems and artifacts, be they games, cars, robots, lighting systems or buildings, are all meant for human end users eventually. It’s essential to know how these users perceive, think, feel, and act. The new human-oriented program Psychology & Technology examines every technical design from a psychological perspective. From now on, on a biweekly basis, Cursor will be taking a closer psychological look at students, teachers, labs, technical artifacts, the workplace, the scientific business, campus, education, and websites.

Insecurity I can vividly remember my first day at university. I had been looking forward to it, but was also a bit insecure about what to expect. When I was walking among all my new fellow students, I experienced this insecurity as slightly annoying. Now I know a little insecurity can’t hurt. People tend to reduce insecurity by being together, and it thus works as a practical catalyst in forming social groups. While I had the feeling I was sheepishly waiting outside of the classroom with my new fellow students, I was actually in the middle of an efficient psychological process to meet new people quickly.

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Many student association gratefully use these processes. They increase first-year students’ insecurity by yelling nasty things at them, while at the same time they clearly present themselves as a group by all wearing the same T-shirt. Still, even without adding any extra insecurity, the social ties that are created during the first weeks of university can be strong. I still keep in touch with people who happened to sit next to me when I was feeling insecure those first few days. Unfortunately, insecurity can also have negative consequences. If you’re insecure, you’re more likely to do what others tell you. In a well-known experiment, Milgram

showed what happened when a professor ordered a group of subjects to give potentially lethal electric shocks to another group: most did as they were told. The people giving the shocks were especially insecure about the norms and values that applied in the situation they found themselves in. So make sure you know what you stand for, but don’t worry too much about being insecure. This way, you might find some close friends among your fellow students, so at times, you can collectively not do what your professor asks you to.


For Starters | 3

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Vox Academici

Prof.dr. Carlijn Bouten, full professor of Cell-Matrix Interaction in Cardiovascular Regeneration, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Does the cyber heart herald ‘artificial life’? Creating an artificial organism from human cells: it sounds like science fiction. Still, newspaper de Volkskrant claims that thanks to a recent US find, we might be one step closer to just that. Last week, Nature Materials published a Harvard University study describing how researchers have managed to grow heart cells. So far, the electrodes only measure signals coming from the heart cells, but in the future those cells should be able to be controlled. How can this technique be used in practice? And for how much longer will electrically controlling an organ or even an organism remain science fiction? “First, I’d like to say I don’t think ‘cyber heart’ is a term that fits this tiny piece of wired tissue”, says Carlijn Bouten, professor of Cell-Matrix Interaction in Cardiovascular Regeneration at the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Besides, it’s not even fully artificial, because a substantial part of it consist of independently functioning live cells. Cyber heart sounds pretty fancy, but it’s definitely not regenerative researchers’ goal to recreate and replace an actual heart; we’d rather stimulate the heart’s own regenerative capacity. That doesn’t mean wonderful things can be achieved with this tiny piece of material, by the way.”

“By taking cells from a patient suffering from a certain condition and growing them as described, it’s possible to create a system for patient-oriented medication testing. After all, medication that works for patient A, doesn’t necessarily work for patient B; the design and implementation of the right therapy is a time-consuming and expensive process. What’s so smart about this technique is that it can grow a piece of 3D-tissue in an electronic environment. There have been a lot of cell and electrode experiments in 2D, but this scaffold is definitely unique. When we learn how to control the cells, possibilities will be endless. For example, many patients with a heart condition suffer from a defective sinoatrial node, the heart’s pacemaker. An electrically active scaffold could do wonders in a situation like that.” “This study is also a great example of multidisciplinary work. A lot of it is electrical engineering, parts are biomaterials and regenerative medical research. It’s exactly what we’re setting up within TU/e’s strategic area Health, like with our organs-on-chip projects. For those projects we mimic a piece of organ, say the heart, on a microscopic scale, so we can study the heart cell in its own environment. And not just biochemically and electrically, but

mechanically as well - cell contraction. Just as the ‘cyber heart’ mentioned above, our system is a good way to test medication efficiently, or make a quick diagnosis.” “Regenerative research - especially concerning these electric scaffolds - is booming. Still, it’s a misconception to think we’re plodding away in our lab all day trying to create an independently functioning artificial heart. Having a bunch of cells become tissue is one thing, but what about more complicated processes such as circulation and nerve control? Today, patients with advanced heart failure can opt for either a pump or a heart transplant. If we really want to cure the heart, we’ll have to come up with something better, like live tissue with the resilience to sustain itself. Our group is currently trying to fix organs with small pieces of cultivated tissue, and have the body do the rest. Or, as I like to put it: teach the body how to tinker.” (NT)

Prof.dr. Carlijn Bouten. Archive photo | Bart van Overbeeke

Begin, began, begun This academic year, our university will be welcoming first-year students, including more than girls.

1,308 300

At the reception after the official part, some snacks were served.



Approximately people attended the academic year kickoff party in MetaForum’s market hall. The guests drank a total of liters of beer.


Apart from performances by Lijn 7 and Color Ones, guests were treated to DJ Tobias Platenburg of one of ESC’s sub-associations. The student of Mechanical Engineering brought a -gigabyte hard disk chock full of music for the occasion.



Around, PM, the last party people left campus - an hour after the party had ended officially. (MvdV) Photo | Bart van Overbeeke

4 | Zoom in

September 6, 2012

Ready for New beginnings | Norbine Schalij Photos | Bart van Overbeeke This week 1,308 first-year students will start on a new phase of life at TU/e. They have finished secondary school, said goodbye to their parents, and are on the way to freedom, fantastic student days and a bright future. Some starters (TU/e is taking in 280 new international students) come from other countries, while others have already completed other studies, but all of them are determined: “We are going to make a success of this!”

From ghost town to hotel room That Christoforos Boukouvalas is making a new start is no exaggeration. He will be leaving his parental home for the first time, to begin on a new study, and on top of that he is doing so in a new country. At long last (he is 32) he is following his passion: computer science. That he is doing this at TU/e and not in Greece is everything to do with the economic crisis. What are you leaving behind in your Greek home town of Patras? “A ghost town. Patras is comparable to Eindhoven in size, although the city is more densely built up with flats and has less green. The busy traffic was the reason I did not like to cycle there. In the city center half of the shops are vacant. This took place within a matter of eighteen months. It is a very appalling sight, I hope you will never have to live through something like that. Also, I am leaving my parents, my sister and friends behind in Greece. I don’t know whether I shall ever go back there again. My friends advise me against it.” Where did you end up in Eindhoven? “For the time being I am sleeping at Holiday Inn, at a stone’s throw from TU/e. The reason is that my apartment in Hertoghof Building at HH van Brabantplein is currently being renovated. Once it is finished, I shall have a

beautiful place to live. It is furnished, is located in the center and has its own bathroom and kitchen. I do miss the kitchen here, which is why I eat at TU/e, fast food in the city or a pot of noodles. I’m trying to set up a cookery group with friends. Before long there will be more Greek residents in my apartment complex.” What do you expect from your new study? “I think it will be very hard work. I did not finish an earlier study of Chemical Engineering because I underestimated it and there was no binding recommendation for continuation of studies. This time I’m determined to give it my best shot, though. Computers have been my passion since childhood. Hardware, software - I hope to get the most out of it in all respects.” Has the intro formed a good transition? “I’ve had two intro weeks. The first one was excellent, focused on international students. I got to know TU/e as well as Dutch customs and people. To my surprise I found out that there are far more Greek students beginning at TU/e. I’ve met twelve of them so far, but there are more than twenty, I think. To be honest, the second week was a waste of time. That’s because I’m a bit too old now for drinking games. I want to take this study seriously and get cracking!”

The cats are upset Going ahead step by step Arjan de Meijer (26) speaks of a royal road when explaining how he has ended up at TU/e. You could call him an expert in starting new courses. He won’t stop until he has made the most of his opportunities, and he hopes to do so at TU/e as well. You are about to begin on a pre-master Electrical Engineering. What have you done before this? “I’m taking the royal road. I started out at the vbo (lower secondary vocational education), moved up to the mbo (upper secondary vocational education), where I combined a day of study with working in cooling technology for four days a week and after that (for six years) with a job in naval electrical engineering. Then I attended the hbo (higher professional education) Electrical Engineering at Avans in Breda and now I want to go ahead at TU/e.” Which transition made the biggest impression on you? “The one from mbo to hbo. I came from a working mill and had to go back to the

school desks and dig into books again. There is such a big difference between flopping into the sofa at four in the afternoon after your practical work and having to sit down to do a load of homework after school.” What is changing for you now? “The subject material will be more specialized. Also, I’m moving into digs for the first time. In the intro week I found a room. There was an inspection night for nine persons. I showed up holding my intro gadget, a hatful of stickers, which immediately provided a topic of conversation. While having a drink in a pub at Stratumseind I got a call that I’d been accepted.” Was the intro useful for you? “I was introduced to the Department, the campus and fellow students. Eindhoven is too big to get to know properly on a single Thursday. Still, I did enjoy the intro, as it’s always nice to do sports games. Running the one hundred meters on an athletics track, lovely!”

Victor Stastra (17), a first-year student of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences, has ended up in a students’ residence in the city center. His front door commands a view of the blob, the Regent and the Bruine Heer, and from the window of his room he looks out on the rear of the buildings along the river Demer. We are sitting on the balcony, as his room cannot seat two people yet. That will change soon, though; he’s already planned the ride to IKEA. What are you leaving behind in Bennekom? “Friends from secondary school. Not my home or my parents or my girl-friend, for I’m going back to them during the weekends. The three cats at home will probably have some trouble now that I’m gone. My parents told me that Chester in particular is desperately trying to fight his way into their bed every night and every morning. Totally upset.” How are you going to tackle your new existence? “I’m going to make new friends as much as possible. On the last day of the intro I registered with SSRE, and with Thêta

earlier that week. I’ve started the introduction at SSRE, but I had serious doubts from day one whether this membership was actually what I wanted. It didn’t appeal to me after all. I went home halfway through the introductory camp. Rowing with Thêta is a fun extra.” How have you found this room? “I’ve asked for and got help from my nephew, who works in Eindhoven. I’m paying 275 euro for 12 m2, with my own washbasin, a tiny communal kitchen and a dirty balcony. The garbage is still there now (in open bags -ed.). I did mean to clear it off, as soon as I’ve got rid of the perished goods from the fridge, but I haven’t figured out yet when the garbage truck is coming.” What do you expect from TU/e? “It’ll be considerably more difficult than secondary school. Even in my final year of pre-university education I only studied properly for maths and French. Now I really intend to keep up with my study from the very beginning.”

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the start…? “Tip when looking for digs: Don’t be too choosy” Even though his parents did warn him against going to Brabant (“there are phony Belgians living there”), after having had a look at TU/e Jelte Borsboom (18) decided to do just that. While it was obvious he would enroll at Delft, it was the compactness and the shorter distance between professors and students in Eindhoven that drew him across the provincial border. What are you leaving behind in Gouda? “My whole life! That may sound melodramatic, but it is still true. I lived there for eighteen years. You can also take a different view; my friends are also leaving it behind and I have made a conscious choice for a totally new environment. No, I’m not going to be a member of a student association straight away. I understand that my study (Automotive -ed.) is pretty tough. I want to see first how that goes. Maybe I’ll register with a sailing or surfing club later.”

that I’ll be starting in the Bachelor College. In view of my pre-university working method, coaches and interim examinations suit me fine.” Did your elder brother give you any tips? “Yes, two of them stand out: he told me not to be too choosy when looking for a room and to buy my own fridge. I’ve taken both tips to heart. I’ve accepted a room in Woensel. Although I heard that Woensel is not the best of districts, it’s not expensive either. I’m paying 255 euro. That only gives me 11 m2, but there’s a balcony as wide as the room, so my room doesn’t seem so small.” What do you want to achieve for 2013? “I want to feel at home in Eindhoven. And I want to try and get as many credits as I possibly can. Still, I’m not going to make too big promises to myself.”

What do you expect from your new life? “As far as the study is concerned, things are still a bit vague. I’ll have to wait and see what the substance of the subjects will be. I do expect to be able to mail my professors when I encounter problems, which is what was said during the ‘followers’ day’ anyway. I’m also glad

Another Amber since the hazing Amber Koenders (18) has just returned from her hazing period at SSRE. She’s learned a lot about herself there and has become a different person, so to speak, “less timid than I was in Heerlen”. She lives in the debating society house Latent Talent of SSRE in a room of 9 m2. What did you know already about Eindhoven? “Nothing at all. I’d never been there before attending the open day. I came here for BMT, but I was disappointed that more work would be done with equipment than with people. So I walked farther along various stands and discovered Industrial Design. That links up more with my creative side; I draw, paint and play the guitar. And I also design websites. During the post-exam days I already registered with SSRE. The social nature and the diversity of its members fit me to a T. The hazing was a good experience as well.” How have you changed in your hazing days at SSRE? “I’ve become more assertive and am less unsure. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t

allow anything to stop me when I’m really dedicated to do something. And that you learn the most from working together. I’ve completed assignments that I couldn’t do on my own, but which I did manage with a group. I won’t give you any examples, because I’m sworn to secrecy, but I’m referring to physical tasks that were incredibly tough. My parents have also noticed that I’ve changed. They say I’m less apathetic and more cheerful, happier.” What do you dread? Having to leave my best friends behind in Heerlen. Our contact has already become less frequent. On the other hand, I’ve made a lot of new contacts with SSRE members.” What are you looking forward to? “To the study. Although it does cause some tension, at last I can do what I really like and I’m really looking forward to that.”

6 | Research

September 6, 2012

An engine with windows

PROTEUS. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke

Although a breakthrough of the electric car finally seems at hand, for the time being the combustion engine will probably remain number one where heavy-duty use is concerned. Ample reason to keep innovating in this field as well. At Combustion Technology, they’re looking for ways to make the combustion process more efficient and less detrimental to the environment. PhD student Ron Zegers uncovered the combustion process – almost literally. Combustion engines could do better, a statement proven by the foul black exhaust coming from trucks alone. All that soot is a sign of incomplete combustion of the diesel oil in the vehicle’s engine. Zegers, who received his doctorate degree last week, explains soot is a result of diesel combusting before it’s been properly mixed with oxygen from the air, a required condition for combustion. “That’s why diesel engines produce a lot of soot and nitric oxides. Because of that, diesel exhausts have to be filtered and run through a catalytic converter.” Gasoline mixes much

better, because it doesn’t spontaneously combust; ignition can wait until fuel and oxygen have mixed well. “There has been a lot of research into combining the best features of diesel and gas engines over the past years”, the mechanical engineer tells us. “Ideally, you’d want a relatively homogenous mixture like in a gas engine, but have the spontaneous combustion of a diesel engine.”The latter could cause trouble, however: a homogenous mixture that spontaneously combusts results in a serious explosion. “You’d be making a sort of

bomb and creating high peak pressures.” The effect would be a banging engine like that of a tractor, which isn’t great either. It’s up to Zegers and his colleagues at Combustion Technology to find the perfect balance. For a long time, the combustion engine was more of a black box than anything else. It’s easy enough to determine which fuel performs best and figure out how performances vary depending on the type of engine, yet what was happening inside the cylinders remained a mystery. Luckily, Zegers had an optical engine at his disposal - a cylinder with windows made of sapphire that enabled him to visualize the mixing and combustion process using various optical techniques, named PROTEUS. In a modern diesel engine, diesel is injected from different directions: the fuel is pushed into the cylinder through a tiny hole. The actual injection happens in a split second - which makes sense, considering a piston reciprocates a dozen times per second and each reciprocation comes with numerous injections. Changing the injection interval is one way to optimize combustion. To see if the fuel in the cylinder mixed well, Zegers added small drops of silicone. He filmed the reflection of laser light on these drops in order to follow their movements. This technique is called Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and works with special software that compares two consecutive shots to calculate the drops’ movements between images. The level of turbulence helps determine how well fuel and oxygen have mixed. So, the optical engine can show the level of mixing if silicon drops are added, but visualizing the process of the ultra short fuel injections requires thousands of images per second. Silicon drops cannot reflect enough light in that short period of time, so for his measurements with a high-speed camera, Zegers decided to replace the drops with much bigger styrofoam balls – that still only measured forty micrometers in diameter.

only depends on the distribution of fuel and oxygen in the cylinder, but also on the local temperature in the mixture. This crucial temperature distribution can also be measured outside of the engine using optical techniques, says Zegers: “If you add toluene to the fuel and then light it up with a UV laser, the temperature can be determined by the fluorescence of the toluene. For that, we use two cameras with different filters. The ratio of the signals of both cameras gives us the temperature.” The last technique Zegers developed during his PhD research enables the user to see where in the engine combustion has started already. In the first phase of combustion, OH-molecules are formed. “Those molecules radiate ultraviolet light, a characteristic called chemiluminescence. It’s one of the easier things to measure; it doesn’t even require laser.” On top of that, this type of measurement doesn’t influence the natural combustion process: no

additives are required and all measuring equipment is located outside the engine. Zegers’ measurements show that during an engine cycle, the flame moves towards the injector, which indicates an increase of the pre-mixed volume.

Combine the qualities of diesel and gas Not a very spectacular result, according to Zegers: “It’s exactly what we expected. The importance of my measurements lies in the fact they can be compared to numerical simulations. My most important achievement is the development of the measuring techniques. Still, I’ve done many measurements already, more than we’ve been able to analyze so far.” (TJ)

For a long time, the combustion engine was a black box “These allow us to actually see how the air is sucked along by the fuel stream during injections.” If and where the mixture combusts not Ron Zegers. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke

Cursor 1 - year 55  

Biweekly magazine Eindhoven Technical University