Robotics professor, David Abbink to join forces with IDE

Nieuws - 09 november 2023 - Communication

Prof. David Abbink to help strengthen collaboration between 3mE and IDE 

On 1 November 2023, the TU Delft | Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) welcomes a new colleague to its research and education communities – Professor in Haptic Human-Robot Interaction, David Abbink

In addition to his new position at IDE, Professor Abbink will continue working at the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE), where he co-founded the Cognitive Robotics Department (CoR) and founded the Human-Robot Interaction group. As the scientific director of the interdisciplinary institute AiTech and the transdisciplinary research and innovation centre FRAIM, Professor Abbink is known for his work in creating synergy between humans and intelligent machines. 

His new bridging position, which will see him working at each faculty for two days per week, aims to strengthen the ties between research and education at IDE and 3ME, and to foster more integration between design and engineering methodologies for inter- and transdisciplinary research. 

In recent years, David’s efforts have been directed towards shaping the future of work to be meaningful, just, and viable. He leads a consortium of 35 researchers in five Dutch universities to establish the emerging field of Worker Robot Relations (WRR). This is done through focused projects in which roboticists, designers, psychologists, organisational scholars, and ethicists work closely together with workers. 

David has already involved IDE designers in several ongoing research projects, including: one focused on KLM Engine Repair for the future of maintenance work, another with Schiphol regarding the future of baggage handling work, and a newly awarded project centred around the future of work in nursing. For Abbink, it’s not just the real-world impact of this transdisciplinary research that is exciting, it’s the personal and value-directed way of working, with a focus on how different disciplines can integrate methods with the deep knowledge of pragmatic experts. It is this aspect that he plans to further develop within his new position.

There’s so much that engineers can learn from designers, and so much that designers can learn from engineers. I am excited about the opportunity to develop a strong collaborative community on the topic of the Future of Work, thus helping increase the impact of TU Delft research, education, and innovation. I’ve found a good home within the Department of Sustainable Design Engineering (SDE) and I already work with the faculty’s other two departments – Design, Organisation and Strategy (DOS) and Human-Centered Design (HCD). I look forward to all the new opportunities we’ll create together.

― David Abbink

Caspar Chorus, dean of IDE echoes Professor Abbink’s enthusiasm: “Ever since I first met David, I have been impressed with the energy, empathy and confidence with which he engages with colleagues from other disciplines and with the world outside university campus. David comes to us from 3mE with a depth of knowledge in the world of cognitive robotics. This expertise, combined with the explorative design methods pioneered at IDE opens up exciting new opportunities to exchange knowledge and develop transdisciplinary research and education. Welcome, David!” 

Fred van Keulen, dean of 3mE added: “At their very core, engineering and design are closely related. However in the practice of collaboration, research, and education, there is still much ground to be gained. This double appointment is a win-win opportunity.”