TU Delft announces five new MOOCs to start this autumn

News - 10 March 2014 - Webredactie Communication

TU Delft has selected five new free online courses that will be launched in the autumn. The university has been offering MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) since Autumn 2013.  

These courses provide free online access to the knowledge of TU Delft for anyone, anywhere in the world. Participants view video material, read, prepare assignments, engage in discussion in the forum and have the option of completing the course with a certificate of participation. This spring, TU Delft is offering three MOOCs. Aeronautical Engineering began in early March. Next Generation Infrastructures – Part 1 and An Introduction to Credit Risk Management are due to start in April.

Problem Analysis

This MOOC covers ‘Complex Multi Actor Systems’ – ‘spaghetti situations’ – in which many parties are involved and many factors influence each other. Examples include discussions about sustainable energy and information security. In such discussions, people often talk about solutions, but nobody is exactly certain what the question is, or the best solution. Quantitative and qualitative models can help people to obtain a grasp of such complex situations. Course participants will acquire practical tools and methods with which to structure and analyse complex problems. 

Responsible Innovation

Responsible innovation focuses on the development, introduction and use of new technologies that help us to solve problems in society. Despite its contribution to our welfare, however, technological innovation is sometimes accompanied by risks to people and the environment. We should therefore be sure that such innovations are consistent with the values of society.

With this MOOC, TU Delft would like to introduce interested parties to this discipline by considering new technologies that are being developed in response to current social challenges (e.g. ‘personalised health’; food safety;Smart Cities; sustainable energy; digital security and disaster assistance.

The Delft Design Approach

In our daily lives, we use hundreds, if not thousands, of products. All of these products were designed, with varying degrees of success. The ‘Delft Design Approach’ is a structured approach that helps designers cope with complex design projects: from the formulation of a strategic vision to mapping users and their contexts and developing and selecting meaningful designs for products and services. With the ‘Delft Design Approach’ MOOC, TU Delft would like to introduce participants to its own unique approach to design, using several models and design methods, drawing upon the knowledge of experts from both education and practice.

Technology for Biobased Products

The efficient use of raw materials: this is the crux of a biobased economy (bio-economy). Renewable sources (such as crops and biomass) are being used for the production of materials and energy. But what do these biotechnological processes look like? In this first MOOC on microbiology, industrial biotechnology and biobased economy, leading scientists from TU Delft, including Isabel Arends and Luuk van der Wielen, discuss such topics as lactic acid production, fermentation and enzyme production. Drawing upon many examples (e.g. how succinic acid is used in food production and how fibre-containing biomass becomes fuel), participants will learn how bioproduction can contribute to sustainable innovation.

Functional Programming

Any engineer in the exact sciences should be familiar with the concept of using mathematical functions to model the world (through linear algebra, calculus or differential equations etc.). Around 1930, the mathematician Alonzo Church developed lambda calculus in an attempt to formalise the fundamentals of mathematics using functions. In doing so, he laid the foundations for understanding calculable functions or, more specifically, the use of mathematical functions in computer programming. 

Through one of the very first programming languages, Lisp, lambda calculus has since made major advances in the computer sciences. It now supports all modern programming languages (e.g. JavaScript, Scala, Visual Basic, PHP, C++, Mathematica and, recently, even Java), all of which consist of higher-order functions in combination with the imperative style of programming based on the Turing machine. In this MOOC, we will use the purely functional language Haskell to prepare participants for the modern practice of programming with mathematical functions.


Last year, TU Delft organised its first two MOOCs. The number of participants successfully completing each of these MOOCs was many times greater than the number of ‘on-campus’ students in any given year. About 550 participants passed the examinations in ‘Introduction to Water Treatment’. For ‘Solar Energy’, certificates were awarded to nearly 3000 online students.


The TU Delft MOOCs are offered through the edX platform, which is an online platform for education, where MIT, Harvard and other universities have been making courses available to anyone with an internet connection since 2012. One of the reasons that TU Delft chose to use edX is that it allows the publication of materials with an open licence. This makes it possible for others to use the materials as well.


More information
For more information, please visit the TU Delft MOOC website.