VU – UTNews & agendaNewsTwenty years of enjoyment in the Hangar

Twenty years of enjoyment in the Hangar

Norbert Spikker has been the inspired workshop manager and practicum leader and hence also the face of the Hangar at the UT for over twenty years. In that time, he and his team have guided hundreds of bachelor and master students and instilled them with a love for crafts. Initially, these were UT students, but over the years, more and more students from abroad  joined, and for the past four years, also students from VU Amsterdam. 'I find working with young, smart and highly-motivated people still wonderful.’

'In the Hangar, we teach students just about everything one can do with steel. Turning, milling, laser cutting, sheet metal working and welding. It's important that they develop basic skills so they can make prototypes for the projects they do. It varies enormously how technically and practically skilled students are when they come in here for the first time. Some already bring quite a bit of experience from home while others don’t have that experience. That often makes the first project they have to do quite difficult.

Welcome variety

Because if you are very good theoretically but have little practical knowledge, making a good prototype is quite a challenge. Fortunately, they always help each other with this. And it also helps that about ninety percent of the students really enjoy the practical work in the Hangar. That is because it is a welcome change for them from sitting behind books or the PC. But mainly because it enables them to apply their theoretical knowledge very concretely in practice.

Surprising insights and solutions

The students' learning curve is rather steep. I am always pleasantly surprised how much they learn and get done in the ten-week project period. We ask a lot of them and they almost always deliver. I admire that. What I also really like is how creative students are. They regularly come up with surprising insights and solutions when working on their prototypes. And sometimes there are ideas among them that I, with my twenty years of experience, had not yet thought of. Great to witness that.

Even more diversity

The arrival of more and more international students and the students from Amsterdam creates even more diversity in terms of solutions. Because they all bring something of their own in terms of knowledge, insight and experience. I see that now with the Rocket Student Team from VU Amsterdam. I am very impressed with them. And yes, students sometimes get it very wrong. They come up with an idea or proposal and I think: how on earth could you come up with that? But that doesn't matter because they learn from that too.

Happy and proud

One of the best parts of my work is the market that takes place after each project period. There, the students present their prototypes to the teachers and to each other. I always walk around there happy and proud. It is the conclusion of an intense period in which we worked hard together and where I also got to know some students better personally. And that's worth a lot because there are some who keep coming back to the Hangar for a cup of coffee and a chat.'