Students as a link between government and citizens

| Meilani Halim

Students of the UT collaborate with the government and other students from the region at the Enschede Lab, in an effort to make Enschede more sustainable and resilient.

Photo by: Rikkert Harink

Within the concept of the Enschede Lab, students work together with the local council to solve problems Enschede Municipality is facing: sustainability, health and talent leaving the region. Among these students are Melanie Fortuyn, Florian Kleinhoven, and Titus Venverloo (ATLAS).

‘The reason why students were asked to cooperate on the Enschede Lab is not only because of the unique knowledge each student brings to the team, but also because we are an excellent link between the government and the citizens of Enschede,’ says Kleinhoven.

What projects are the UT students working on?

Using waste energy 

Kleinhoven: ‘My team and I are focusing on capturing and recycling waste energy. Enschede experiences the urban heat island effect, in which the ground temperature of the city center differs with the atmospheric temperature by up to 40°C. This is caused by heat energy being reflected off buildings and pavement, which is simultaneously a waste of energy and a health hazard: standing near a building for a prolonged amount of time can lead to cardiovascular disease. The UT campus and the Grolsch Veste stadium are heated with this waste energy, so we plan to build off this solution.’

Making neighbourhoods more sustainable

Fortuyn: ‘I wanted to combine the technical aspect of urban planning and the social aspect of community development, so I joined the project of making neighbourhoods more sustainable. Nurturing a sense of community and responsibility among neighbours will hopefully nudge them to collectively work towards sustainability. Hence, citizen participation is again essential for the success of this endeavour. Currently we are brainstorming ideas, such as recycling, car sharing, and cleaning up waterways. Then we will do pilots in a few neighbourhoods to test which idea works best, with the end goal of finding a solution that fits all neighbourhoods in Enschede.’

Keeping talent in the region 

Venverloo: ‘My project focuses on keeping talent here in the region, more specifically finding ways to make the city more attractive for students. If you enjoy yourself here it gives you a sense of belonging and likely will influence you to stay. The function of a city is changing; it is moving away from being simply a place to go for necessities, towards being a place where people go to enjoy themselves and interact with the community. So we ask ‘what draws students to the city?’ with a perspective on the future.’

Enschede lab

Enschede Lab was formed out of a collaboration between Enschede Municipality and four educational institutes: University of Twente, Saxion Hogeschool, ROC van Twente, and AKI ArtEZ. Students work in multi-disciplinary teams together with the local council to tackle the challenges posed to Enschede.