Graduate School News

News - 17 December 2020 - Communication

New year, new challenges. That will certainly be the case for IDE’s Sylvia Pont and Wilfred van der Vegte, who will be stepping up to coordinate and strengthen the faculty’s PhD programme. Professor Pont will become the new Graduate School director and Assistant Professor van der Vegte will become the coordinator of doctoral education. Read on to find out a little bit more about their new positions and plans.  

Sylvia Pont –Director of the IDE Graduate School

The brief

It is my job to coordinate the Graduate School team which works to facilitate the training of doctoral candidates at IDE. A PhD alone is often not enough in today’s competitive job market. We want our PhDs to become highly qualified, autonomous and leading design researchers, as well as skilled professionals. A number of competences are important and the creativity and flexibility of a research mind-set is of value to many positions and careers.
To deepen and broaden these competences, we facilitate the supervisory teams of PhD candidates. We do this in a number of ways, namely by process support (e.g. the PhD mentors and formal meetings), via doctoral education (see below) and by building the Graduate School community.

I see three important points of attention for the coming year(s). Firstly, the timely finishing of PhD projects. Secondly, providing a platform to more easily get a broad overview of ongoing research at IDE plus its inhabitants and their expertise, thereby facilitating connections and sparking collaborations, and linking to our MSc education, and to our growing network of design programmes such as Polimi and Aalto. And finally, and importantly, supporting PhD candidates during these challenging times and helping them solve problems and cope with the circumstances thrown up by corona.

The buzz

I enjoy and get a lot of energy out of the curiosity, enthusiasm and creativity that I encounter at IDE and especially the (sometimes much appreciated crazy) initiatives, the (sometimes unexpected and thought-provoking) insights and out of the box (or also much appreciated, “wild”) ideas of PhD students.

I am looking forward to working with the energetic team of PhD students, mentors and support staff, and also to getting to know people at the faculty and their work better. I’m eager to help the IDE Graduate School develop further as the largest school of its kind. And finally, inspired by the dress code set by Pieter Jan Stappers, I am thinking about following suit and investing in a new colourful suit. Whether or not it's canary yellow, remains to be seen…


I was a PhD mentor previously, and Doctoral Education (DE) coordinator for the last few years, so bring my experiences with the graduate school from those perspectives. Also I am participating in my fourth EU International Training Network, and have advised a dozen PhD students so far, six of whom have finished with good results, with two more to do so soon. I will do my best to live up to the high expectations shaped by Pieter Jan’s wonderful leadership. 

Wilfred van der Vegte – Coordinator of Doctoral Education

My assignment will be to oversee the Doctoral Education (DE) we offer IDE PhDs – making sure courses run smoothly and developing them to fit the needs of future PhDs, as well as adapting them in line with new developments in and around design-related research.

Currently our most prominent course is the mandatory IDE Research Course, which will be delivered in a novel setup next year. In addition, we organise the annual PhD days.  We also hope to also provide a new manner for offering a “horizontal” or broad overview of IDE research and building the community.  For “vertical” development or specialisations there are a number of doctoral courses within the design discipline  (namely MSc electives that PHDs can also follow) and only a few more discipline-related electives. We strive to develop more.

I see an important and challenging role for myself in stimulating and facilitating these initiatives, and working towards an integral, attractive and meaningful range of courses - both mandatory and elective.

As a coordinator my task is also to support individual PhDs in composing their DE plans (combining IDE courses with courses from other TU Delft Graduate Schools and elsewhere) and support the timely completion and approval of completed Doctoral Education before the defense. In my current role within the Graduate School as a PhD mentor, I have noticed that we can do better on this.

I will be supported by Stella Schilperoort (Graduate School officer) and Joost Niermeijer (Graduate School coordinator) in my new role and I’m looking forward to working with them to take IDE Doctoral Education a step further.