‘Coaching, mentoring and sparring together’

| Specials U-Today

Dave Vogel, a Master’s student Systems and Control, got a two-year scholarship from Tecnotion, the linear motor company based in Almelo. He and his supervisor, senior designer Thorwald van Vuure, talk about their collaboration.

How did your collaboration come to be?

Thorwald: ‘In the beginning, I was quite skeptical. Every student wants a scholarship like this, but the question is: what will you get in return? This scholarship is not an employment, neither is it a down payment in which a student will come back for an employment. What it is, is coaching, mentoring and sparring together. That’ll result in a fresh look on recruitment and thereby UT contacts. Large companies have a big budget to acquire talented students. We don’t have that kind of budget, but this is our way of putting in the effort. And it’s worth it to attract talent.’

Dave: ‘The funny thing is, I’m from Almelo but I hadn’t heard of Tecnotion before. I’m happy that the scholarship gave me the opportunity to get an unrestricted look behind the scenes. I noticed that the organizational structure was very horizontal and that everyone was very open and approachable. You’ll immediately get viewed and appreciated as a person, which really spoke to me.’

Does supervision take a lot of time?

Thorwald: ‘Once a month, we get together for about an hour or so. Formally that is. In reality, our meetings always take more time than initially planned. Till at least three hours. I spar a lot with Dave, for instance about the model learning methods he studied during his education. He looks at dynamic processes in a different way. For me on a new abstract level, which is refreshing. I learn a lot from him when he’s working on his modeling.’

Dave: ‘I often say: if we scrutinize our own processes, to what new insights will that lead? It resulted in an internship assignment in which the performance of a robotic control system is central. Besides Thorwald, I collaborated with Peter Wennink, who manages the measurement and test setup of this system. He took a lot of time to help me out. It’s fantastic to see a company like Tecnotion dealing with R&D. Very different from the university.’

What’s the difference?

Thorwald: ‘In small and medium sized enterprises, every project is multidisciplinary. An improved measurement setup should directly deliver useful information that I can use for my customers. Besides that, product and production improvements should fit in with the regular workflow and, of course, be affordable.’

Dave: ‘Those are all aspects that you don’t usually get confronted with during your education at the university. I learn a lot on the practical side of things: if I have a test setup ready, a cable break could happen at any time. It’s all common practice here.’

The contract states that Dave will behave as an ambassador for the company…

Dave: ‘That doesn’t take a lot of effort at all. Technologically speaking, what happens here is very interesting. I do talk about that to fellow students and others.’

Thorwald: ‘That’s exactly the right and believable way to do this.’

Find and bind talent

To find and bind talent, the UT and partners FME (the entrepreneur organization for the tech industry) and Holland High Tech, founded the ‘MKB technology scholarship’. Technology companies from the Eastern Netherlands can participate by offering students a scholarship for their two-year Master’s. The UT provides for contact matching of students and companies. For regional companies, the scholarship program is a good way of getting in touch with highly educated, technical students.

Interested? You can find more information on www.utwente.nl/careerservice or contact Strategic Business Development: 053-4894484.

Text: Egbert van Hattem | Photo: Tecnotion