2041

| Wiendelt Steenbergen

On the occasion of our university's 60th birthday, I want to look twenty years into the future. What will our university look like by then? And in particular what about our campus, the only real - and therefore by definition the best - campus in the Netherlands?

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK

Let me take you on a journey to year 2041. It is close enough to the present day to ignore such fantastic pipe dreams as quantum teleportation, cyborgs and transferring our souls to the cloud after death. Predictions of the future are often clouded by fear or hope. I will stick to hope in this article; I can write the dystopian variant some other day.

In 2041, the Twente Campus will not only include the former university campus and what used to be Kennispark; it will also stretch all the way beyond the Kristalblad and to the Twentekanaal. The water purification plant also forms part of it. It is one giant centre for scientific research, vocational and scientific education, high tech entrepreneurship including production, living, top and amateur sports, healthcare and recreation, sustainable energy production, water purification, water retention and nature development. Cars are banned from campus altogether. The former Kennispark train station has become a lively centre that combines public and private transport with the Twente CampusLink, a system for autonomous passenger transport across the entire campus. The Twente CampusLink runs through the station to make transfers easier. A network of semi-covered footpaths protects pedestrians against extreme precipitation and sunshine. The Hengelosestraat has gone underground, while the space above it has been turned into a verdant oasis. The Twente Campus is a city centre that offers everything you need to live and work there.

The Living Innovation Lab, whose modest beginnings in one corner of the former UT campus date back to 2021, stretches across the entire Twente Campus. Together with businesses, governments and utility companies, the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences conduct research into such areas as water purification, water management, waste management, sustainable energy, health technology, photonics, robotics, sports and human behaviour. These are essentially the same themes that people were working on back in 2021, albeit at a higher Technology Readiness Level. Internship positions for various programmes, from the highly practical to the scientific, are there for the taking.

With that, our tour of 2041 comes to an end. It is clear that we have a long road ahead. For now, let us start small and begin by taking further steps towards making the campus greener and merging the UT campus and Kennispark. Why not give one of the superfluous parking areas on campus back to nature or use it as the location for essential new construction projects, instead of sacrificing even more green areas for that purpose. Next, a bridge across the Hengelosestraat for cyclists and pedestrians can mark the first stage of the merger between our campus and Kennispark. I already look forward to cycling across the Twente Campus at the age of 77 and seeing that all my hopes have been realised.