Inspired by nature

[Foreword]

Aircraft wings that take inspiration from birds and surgical instruments based on insects or octopuses. Not only does nature provide plenty of inspiration for innovation, it also features increasingly as part of the design itself. We are developing new materials using living organisms and creating coastal protection that spreads itself along the coast under the influence of currents and waves.

By the same token, anyone who uses a Living Cocoon for their burial will no longer pollute the earth after death, but actually become a source of new life. All of this is part-and-parcel of an essential and urgent development: instead of plundering it, we need to live much more in symbiosis with nature.

It is essential and urgent, because, for nature, time is rapidly running out. Because of climate change, we face extreme forms of heat, drought and floods causing a shift in human and animal habitats and diminishing biodiversity. It is high time that society took concerted action and, as TU Delft, we are taking the lead with our Climate Action programme.

Whether it concerns climate change or the crisis in the building industry, state-of-the-art research and education remain the cornerstones of any solution. This is why we are so delighted to see Lieven Vandersypen awarded this year’s Spinoza Prize, the Netherlands’ most prestigious scientific award. It is also the fourth consecutive year that the award has been presented to a TU Delft scientist. Within the university, the Professor of Excellence award is the pinnacle of prizes. I recently had the pleasure of awarding it to professor of Control & Operations, Max Mulder, someone capable of providing unparalleled motivation and inspiration to students and colleagues, even in the time of coronavirus.

As Rector Magnificus, the time for prizes and distinctions may now be behind me, but even if it may win me no prizes, having the honour of leading the university is perhaps the most privileged role within the organisation. Of course, the Executive Board is ably assisted and advised by the Supervisory Board. This year saw two alumni join it: Heleen Wachters and Tijo Collot d’Escury. They introduce themselves in this issue.


Prof. Tim van der Hagen,
President Executive Board TU Delft

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