VU – UTNews & agendaNewsContributing to the great challenges of our time

Contributing to the great challenges of our time

Margrethe Jonkman and Vinod Subramaniam, chairpersons of VU Amsterdam and the UT respectively, look back and forward on the collaboration between the two universities. On building trust, good interaction and a future generation of thinkers and workers. “We want to put even more emphasis on the huge importance of technology in relation to acceptance and behaviour.”

“A lot of energy is released within the collaboration. It is still great to see that. It is also about making an impact and being at the centre of society. If you want to solve social problems, you have to do that from the perspectives of different disciplines. That also typifies our collaboration. It is also great that pupils from the province of Noord Holland can now study engineering close to home in Amsterdam. Thanks to our collaboration and the great work of the people from Mechanical Engineering and Creative Technology.  

Building trust together

To collaborate is a verb and it is people’s work. This is also reflected within our collaboration.  Although there are different institutions and perspectives, people find each other on the basis of content and common goals, both in research and teaching. Collaboration is also about building trust. Our executive boards express and drive this, and support this with seed funding. The researchers then take this up as well and translate it into concrete and sustainable projects. With an eye for both the short and the long term.

Promising research

Our people do a lot of good things together. For instance, with the help of seed funding, 35 joint research programmes have now been started. Beautiful and promising research projects in the fields of climate, health and safety. These studies regularly grow from small to large follow-up projects. This is very nice because in this way, the seed funding also reaches its target. And take a look at how well Mechanical Engineering and Creative Technology are rated in the most recent national student survey!

Showing results

Our collaboration is increasingly alive and doing well. You can clearly see this during the working visits, for example. Not only do many people attend, but it is also impressive what is exchanged and presented. We should be proud of that. And we should also show our pride and results a bit more. It is up to us to show each other and society the great things we do and how we contribute to the big and complex problems and challenges of our time. 

Enterprising spirit

University always have an interplay between teaching and research, and this also applies to our collaboration. First and foremost, we exist to educate young people. In doing so, we make sure that our programmes are underpinned by our research and we introduce students to that research through projects and internships. In this way, you create a nice cross-fertilisation and work on a future generation of thinkers and workers. You will also find this entrepreneurial spirit when you visit our programmes during the open days.

Learning to speak each other's language  

Working together also means dealing with different systems and educational models. This sometimes causes implementation hassles because it does not all fit together seamlessly. They are often not insurmountable barriers, but you have to keep paying explicit attention to them. It is also a matter of managing expectations and, above all, learning to speak each other's language. More two-way traffic in education is another point for attention. So not only bringing Bachelor's programmes from Twente to Amsterdam but also Bachelor's and/or Master's programmes from Amsterdam to Twente. We are working hard on that behind the scenes. 

Substantive choices and new partnerships

For the future, it will be a challenge to continue with our strategic agenda, despite the cutbacks from the government. For the research, this means even more focus from the coalitions, with a keen eye for the opportunities and possibilities. This involves both substantive choices and new collaborations with external partners. In terms of programmes, we are working on new bachelors and a bridging programme for master/pre-master for Twente and new bachelors for Amsterdam, among other Technical Business Administration.

Multidisciplinary solutions to major issues

In all plans and developments, we have an eye for the short and long term. Multidisciplinary solutions for major themes such as sustainability, health and safety increasingly require collaboration between engineering and the social sciences and humanities. A great example of this is the centre on data and sports that we will establish in Apeldoorn. To improve sports performance and to start making strides in the field of rehabilitation. The municipality of Apeldoorn is also participating, and in terms of location it is of course perfect: right in between Amsterdam and Enschede. That can't be a coincidence....

Dreaming out loud

When we dream out loud about the future, we think of more and more pupils from the province of Noord Holland, especially young women, going on to study engineering. And we are thinking of new master degrees that will give young people in the Twente region even more opportunities to do those things that suit them best. We also want to put even more emphasis on the huge importance of engineering in relation to acceptance and behaviour, and we would like to see the diversity of the Netherlands even more reflected in our student population.”