Jack Eichenlaub's experiences in Delft


Hi, my name is Jack, and I am following the Integrated Product Design Master's Degree in Delft. Find out all about my experiences living and studying in Delft here.

Jack Eichenlaub

Jack's most recent article:

How to choose your electives for your IDE master programme

Jack Eichenlaub | June 2022

Central hall of the IDE building

Hey everyone! Did you know the third semester of each master programme at IDE is reserved for electives? That is if one does not follow the master variant for engineers, of course. If you were not aware, this 20-week period is used for exploring the absolute range of what it means to “design,” and to discover one’s own interests within the field. When searching for master programmes, the existence of the elective semester a TU Delft was a key driver in my interest and application. I am glad to say that, generally, the semester met my expectations and truly helped me to broaden my horizons! Before I share my favorite electives and how they have influenced my design philosophy and capabilities, it’s first important to know how the electives are structured at IDE.

Student Organizations and Ultimate Frisbee

Coming from an American university, student clubs and organizations were a foundational underpinning of the social experience. Universities (such as my undergraduate home) would advertise having “over multiple-hundred active student clubs” as a draw for potential students. Despite not such vocal promotion of their own resources, TU Delft has a deep network of student clubs and associations ranging in focus from sport to career to purely social. I’ll briefly highlight what is available and share my experience joining Force Elektro, TU Delft’s ultimate frisbee club.

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First and foremost, clubs and associations are a fully optional experience with varying levels of commitment. Some students focus purely on their studies, and there’s nothing wrong with that choice. I would, however, personally recommend that everyone at least try to join some sort of organization for the diversity it brings to your daily life. The full list can be found here!

If you’re looking to get heavily committed to a social group, perhaps the most intense are more classical “student associations” that mirror a combined fraternity/sorority. Two of the largest in Delft are D.S.V. Sint Jansbrug and Delftsche Studenten Bond (DSB). These organizations are most often joined by Dutch students starting their bachelors, but some will accept the dedicated international student as well. With tight-knit social circles and appreciable time commitment, these associations are for those wanting to buy into typical, traditional Dutch student life.

There are plenty of choices outside of Dutch social associations: related to one’s studies, each faculty or master will have a study association. For IDE, we have “I.D.”(https://studieverenigingid.nl/), which seeks to provide both social and academic experiences to members outside of their official studies. This manifests in workshops, career fairs, social events, and even social outings and trips! Study Associations also offer great opportunities to gain leadership experience on committees responsible for planning the events. Membership is cheap and easy, and I highly recommend all IDE students join ID, especially as we move to in-person activities again. Expanding your network of like-minded, intelligent classmates can never be a bad thing!

For international students missing a connection back to their home, culture, or communities, there are also a large variety of cultural organizations that link students of common background or interest. For example, the Indian Student Association or Outsite, the Delft LGTBQ+ group both offer community for people that could feel isolated after moving to Delft from their homes around the world. And of course, in accepting Dutch fashion, anyone is welcome regardless of your identity.

Most important to my experience has been Force Elektro, the local Ultimate Frisbee club. For the uninitiated, Ultimate Frisbee is a team sport that combines the endurance and running of football with flying plastic discs, scoring in endzones, and borrowed elements from other sports. With over 18,000 college ultimate players the US alone (and over 1100 competitive players in the Netherlands), the sport has large reach and is growing rapidly. More importantly, it’s been an exceptional way to meet people from all corners of TU Delft and share in their experiences.

This past month, we welcomed over 60 new teammates of varying experience levels to the program, each one a potential new classmate and friend. Deep in the corona lockdown last year, joining a sport club was one of the only allowed social activities and has proven to be incredibly valuable as a physical and social outlet for me. Sometimes the stresses of school can be overwhelming, so to have an energy outlet is a great benefit to mental and physical health. And of course, it is all the better when surrounded by new friends.

Your time in the classroom at TU Delft is a period of learning and discovery, so why not mirror that outside of school hours? There are enough clubs and associations for everybody to find something they match well with. Enjoy some new friends and new activities, and I might even see you out on the sports fields. Until next time!

Social Initiatives for (International) Students – IDE and MoTiv

Jack Eichenlaub | April 2021

It is no secret that the coronavirus has put many aspects of our lives “on hold.” As the local cherry blossoms bloom and the world awakens again in spring, we all want to get back to life as we used to know it. This past Easter Monday, I had the opportunity to bask in that feeling of normalcy when I was hosted for lunch by a lovely Dutch couple named Irma and Paulus. The “MoTiv Connects” program, arranged by TU Delft-affiliated group MoTiv, allowed individual students to join a Dutch host in their home and make a new, personal connection. This program was also offered over the winter holiday (when I first participated). Over the same break, the faculty of IDE also opened their doors as a gathering place for students not returning home due to travel restrictions. All in all, these experiences have been very valuable to me as I adjust to life abroad, so I wanted to share and inform the wider community!

Who is Designing Design Anyways?

Jack Eichenlaub | April 2021

Most of us go to university to acquire collective knowledge that has been built for many years, all around the world. IDE masters students not only do that, but also learn from professors at the forefront of design, who are actively creating new knowledge and writing the future of our field. One particular focus is on designing design itself, specifically in the form of exploring design methods, theories, and approaches.

If you do not recognize this vibrant blue book, you surely will soon. It is a proud export of our faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and a critical learning tool used both in our classrooms and in other global contexts. The Delft Design Guide contains a multitude of 2-page spreads that succinctly describe all manner of design perspectives, approaches, and methods to use while tackling modern design challenges. Many of these are well known historical approaches, and many detail modern ideas developed here at TU Delft, such as “Vision in (Product) Design.”

Living in Delft: The Great Bakkerij-venture

Jack Eichenlaub | January 2021

Undoubtedly, many unique experiences await once you move to the Netherlands and join the bright men and women of TU Delft. Unfamiliar apartments, new friends, many many bikes, sideways rain, and of course, lots of foods at the store that you cannot quite translate correctly. Sometimes the rigorous schedule of academic work at the TU can be consuming, so in my first semester I attempted to take some personal time to focus on something thing I loved, and search Delft for the best I could possibly find. That thing? Bread and baked goods!

Coming from America, the land of “added sugar,” it took some experimenting to find what I was looking for. So many things are sickly sweet in the US, like for example bread from Subway restaurants. Ireland recently declared that Subway bread was too sugary to be bread, and taxed it more heavily. Luckily, good (unsweet) normal bread is quite common in the Netherlands.

In my search for delicious bread, I first stopped at two staple grocery stores, Jumbo and Albert Heijn. Students will know these well, as not only are they conveniently located near campus and in town, but also ubiquitous throughout the Netherlands. Fresh baguettes and loaves are put out every day throughout the day, although a few times I arrived too late in the day to get any! The bread on offer is quite basic, but extremely cheap. More bread than I could possibly eat in 2 whole days can be found for around 1 euro at each store. And it is good too! Maybe not “gourmet quality,” but tasty all the same. My personal preference is for the rustiek types from Albert Heijn. Often based on a sourdough starter, they are filling and have more complex flavor than basic white bread from either AH or Jumbo.

After figuring out my baseline favorites, it was time to experiment. There are no less than 14 bakeries in Delft, so the choices are practically endless. Conveniently located close to my apartment was a local family-owned bakery, Bakker Jaap V.O.F (Wijnhaven 5). Their yellow awning is hard to miss! I was not incredibly impressed with their full-size loaves (especially when the price is compared against AH or Jumbo), but I did become obsessed with their saucijzenbroodje. Despite the name, this 2-euro treat does not contain sausage, but rather a spiced minced meat within puff pastry. I have been enjoying these simple Dutch delicacies in our lockdown winter, as they are great for adding a warm, hearty touch to your lunch.