From a combat engineer to an engineer at ALTEN

| Specials U-Today

Although you can be convinced of your future at the age of 18, it can look very different after a while. We are talking to Arnold Schutter; he works as a Business Manager at ALTEN, but wanted nothing more than to work for the Ministry of Defence when he was 18.

That is why he chose to go to the Royal Military Academy in Breda to become an Officer of the combat engineers. The combat engineers provide combat support within the Royal Dutch Army. The physical activities, the team work and the practical focus really appealed to him. Part of his training was the Bachelor of Civil Engineering, which he followed through the University of Twente. 'As a platoon commander, I was in charge of an operational unit consisting of 34 men and associated equipment. Our focus was mainly on supporting the combat units by creating and breaching obstacles, building bridges and more. After some time, I noticed that I want to focus more on the innovation side of technology. Developing my own innovative techniques and thinking creatively about possibilities really appeals to me. That is why I decided to leave the Army and study Computer Science at Delft University of Technology. The great thing about this discipline is that you can work in all fields (from maritime to aviation), you can use a lot of creativity and you have a lot of freedom in the environments in which you work.'

'A very interesting time'

While looking for a suitable graduation internship, Arnold first came in touch with ALTEN. 'For my graduation thesis, I started working with ALTEN and TNO on possibilities to deploy unmanned recognition vehicles. This could be a drone or tracked vehicle, for example. Not only did I like the content of my thesis, but also the atmosphere and the type of work. That's why I decided to opt for ALTEN after my graduation. I worked on a wide variety of projects, such as a user interface for the control of a dredger in the maritime domain. But also on 2D/3D visualisation of industrial sites as full stack software engineering. A very interesting time.'

'Build your own team'

After having worked as a consultant for two years, Arnold switched to the role of Business Manager over a year ago. In this role, in addition to obtaining projects, he is also responsible for a team of consultants and coaching. Arnold needed more interaction with technical companies and wanted to expand his world. 'The nice thing is that ALTEN has a training program for consultants who want to grow towards a management role. I followed it for six months, in order to gain more knowledge of, for example, business development. I was able to start in this role confidently and I am supervised by an experienced colleague. The great thing of this role is that you see everything grow. You approach tech companies and build your own team that works for them. This way, you are involved in everything. Actually, just like in the army, I am responsible for a group of motivated engineers, only now in the field of software.'

Finally, Arnold can give students a suggestion: "try to get the best out of yourself by occasionally thinking about where your passion lies and dare to act accordingly". For example, an engineer in the Royal Dutch Army can grow into an engineer in computer science and now work in a management role at ALTEN.


Would you like to know more about the options available for you at ALTEN? Please visit our website ( and/or contact one of our Recruiters, via [email protected] or call one of our offices: Eindhoven, Capelle a/d IJssel, Amstelveen, Apeldoorn or Groningen.


This article was published in the second editon of the 4TU Career Special, a shared publication by the news editors of Cursor (Eindhoven University of Technology), Delta (Delft University of Technology), Resource (Wageningen University and Research), and U-Today (University of Twente). The magazine came into being in collaboration with industry, and is explicitly aimed towards students who are either in the final phase of their studies, or have just graduated.

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