What do cognitive neuroscience and social entrepreneurship have in common? At the very least, they are both important parts of Raja Singaram’s PhD research. ‘How to support social entrepreneurs that start new business ventures?’ That was the question Singaram asked himself before moving from Silicon Valley to the University of Twente.
Born in the USA, studies in the Netherlands, work in Bolivia, Master’s degree in Spain and Sweden... and now a PhD position at ITC. That is Caroline Gevaert’s life in a nutshell. The research of this cosmopolitan PhD candidate is focused on mapping informal settlements with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). ‘I can’t believe it’s my job,' she says about flying drones in Africa.
Dikes protect a large part of the Netherlands from flooding. If they fail, many people will suddenly live literally below sea level. ‘If there are problems with dikes, there are severe consequences. We are trying to solve that from the robotic perspective’, says Douwe Dresscher, who is helping to develop a robot that could autonomously inspect dikes.
Gifted pupils in primary schools mostly read textbooks or work on individual assignments. But not children participating in BE COOL!-project. Those students get to design moon houses. The project introduces a new type of learning method built on collaboration and Alieke van Dijk is there to design and research this new educational approach.
His aspiration was to save lives, and so he decided to switch from engineering to nanotechnology. The place to do that was the UT, where Dilu George Mathew now works on ‘Early Stage Cancer Detection Sensor’, a device able to detect cancer from patients’ urine. ‘This technique could not only save lives, but also a lot of money.’
It all started with a simple optical microscope she got as a child and used to examine the structure of paper or leaves. Now she is working on developing abioactive scaffoldto treat type 1 diabetes. ‘I love chocolate, it adds sweetness to life and I want everybody to be able to enjoy it!’ says Elahe Hadavi, PhD candidate from the Developmental BioEngineering group.
Water is essential to all life on Earth, but some areas have fewer water supplies than others. ‘We need to know what resources there are, in order to use them efficiently,’ says Moiteela Lekula, who is researching groundwater storage in his home country of Botswana.
Facebook, Microsoft and Google already had the privilege to host Dong Nguyen during her internships. Now, the UT shares Dong’s services with the Meertens Institute. Dong develops methods to analyse social media content. ‘I’m interested in patterns, not in individuals.’
There may be nine million bicycles in Beijing, but Enschede also has a sufficient number of bikes to need a solid policy on how to accommodate them best. Sander Veenstra is developing an application to support the city council in their decision making.
Doing a PhD can be challenging, demotivating and awarding. But what’s it like at the other end of the table? Assistant Professor Arno Stienen supervises PhD candidates in robotics. He advocates hard work, structure and early publications.
Participatory society. It’s one of those new buzz words to indicate that people are increasingly responsible for their own well-being, instead of the government. However, Judith Bakker knows that the ‘do-it-yourself society’ is not as new as it is presented. Citizens have always been active in many fields, such as in neighbourhoods. ‘People do an awful lot for others.’
Andrea Sánchez listens to machines: they use vibrations to tell her about their conditions and performances. The goal is to share her knowledge with other engineers, to help them understand fundamental elements of mechanical maintenance. ‘We need more machine-doctors to predict, diagnose and cure.’
Within five years, Xavier Ikejemba wants to give electricity access to 100.000 African households through his own company. Within three to four years, he wants to finish his dissertation on enhancing sustainable development of Africa. Eventually, he even wants to be the president of his home country Nigeria. ‘There’s no time to waste.’
Jonathan Barreaux likes to shed a light on things. As a PhD candidate he seeks to improve the use of XUV-radiations. And as the president of P-NUT, he advocates real professionalization and clarity. ‘When my presidency is over, I want to have an efficiently working board, more Dutch PhDs in the association, more information on housing possibilities and even closer ties with Twente Graduate School.’