The only way you can create a new culture in this university is by talking, and talking - by talking a lot

Karel Luyben

Living books

Sabine Roeser

Risky technologies and emotional engineers

Emotions tend to have a bad reputation. According to Sabine Roeser this is because we only notice our emotions when things go wrong. In engineering, emotions are often ignored: risk is calculated by the probability times the unwanted effect. However, the unwanted effect is not always easy to quantify. Moreover, what is unwanted for one can be beneficial for another.

Sabine says that emotions are not the problem in engineering, but the solution. We need emotions to be practically rational and produce morally responsible engineers. As the engineers are the experts on the design, it is their responsibility cultivate their own moral expertise to take diminish the risks, and not delegate this task to ‘moral experts’. According to her, all engineering design processes should include an ethical reflection phase which allows for an open discussion of the ethical issues that arise during the design process.

One option for this is to let the engineers co-develop scenarios with laypeople, as laypeople have a very different risk perception from engineers. In this way there is room for the technical expertise of the engineers and the emotional and moral concerns of the layman.

Sabine Roeser is full professor of ethics at the philosophy Department of TU Delft, Netherlands, where she holds a prestigious Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Chair for excellent young scholars. She is head of a research group on Moral Emotions and Risk Politics. Roeser holds an M.A.-degree in Philosophy as well as an M.A.-degree in Political Science, both from the University of Amsterdam. She did her B.A. in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Maastricht. Roeser obtained her PhD degree in 2002 at the Free University Amsterdam.

“Emotions have often been met with suspicion in debates about risky technologies, because they are seen as contrary to rational decision making. Indeed emotions can cloud our understanding of quantitative information about risks. However, in my work I argue that moral emotions are necessary in order to judge ethical aspects of technological risks.”

Sabine Roeser has published a monograph and edited six books (plus two under contract) with leading scholars, and more than 50 articles on risk, ethics and emotions. She has taught more than 30 courses on ethics and technology at almost all engineering departments of TU Delft. Roeser has given more than 150 presentations at academic events, many of which invited. Roeser is regularly interviewed about her work for popular media and she often gives popular lectures. She is a member of various governmental advisory committees on risk.

Robert Setekera: Above the Clouds It’s Always Summer

It is inspired by his flight to Amsterdam from Uganda. This is also his mantra in life, sunshine is always around the corner. Setekera’s talk is punctuated with photos of his country, his stay at TU Eindhoven and his take on the culture clash. “One thing I learnt quickly was to give short, to the point answers!” he laughs.

Source: Delta article 25 April 2013

Joris Dik

Crossing Borders

Joris Dik presented the audience with his story on crossing borders. He talked about physical borders, such as the wall between West and East Berlin. But he also spoke of psychological and cultural borders which he encountered with the parents of his Israeli wife Einat; since he spent some time of his childhood in Germany, his in laws were not so willing to accept him into the family.

Lastly he talked about borders in science which he had to cross to get accepted for a PhD in chemistry with a background in art history and classical archaeology.

He eventually was able to cross the border between science and art history with a great deal of passion and assertiveness. With his in-laws it just took time and patience.

I just photographed my coffee mug. As you can see it’s been used for a while and the print on the outside is starting to fade. “You are leaving the American Sector” was the ultimate, final warning sign when crossing the border from West to East Berlin during the Cold War.

Having grown up in Germany in the 1980’s, it is to me a very powerful border symbol. The Berlin Wall is now long gone, but I keep being confronted with all sorts of borders in my life. Borders in culture, nationality, language and discipline.

I was trained as an art historian and only later on got a PhD in chemistry. Currently, I am heading a research group at TU Delft in ‘materials in art and archaeology’. We work at the interface of the humanities and the sciences, which are usually sharply divided fields of research. Bridging these two worlds is a challenging, but rewarding experience, especially when our technology enables the discovery of new paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt.

On a more personal level, borders run through my private life. I am married to Einat, an Israeli dentist. We have two kids and their four grandparents are Lithuanian, Yemenite, German and Dutch, respectively. Raising our kids across such cultural borders is difficult at times, but connecting our diversity truly enriches my life.

Crossing borders can make me feel uncomfortable, uncertain, and sometimes a little unsafe. But at the same time, my coffee mug reminds me that borders are only man-made, and not God-given. Leaving the safety of the American Sector is an adventurous, fun, challenging part of life, which keeps offering me steep learning curves.

About Joris Dik

Joris Dik (*1974, Amsterdam) received his secondary education in Aachen, Germany, Den Bosch and The Hague, the Netherlands. He studied art history and classical archaeology at the University of Amsterdam and received his M.A. in 1997. In ‘95/’96 he was a Getty Graduate Intern at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. After returning to the Netherlands, he worked on a PhD in chemistry, graduating in early 2003. Joris Dik currently serves as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor, specialized on the materials science of art and archaeological objects. He is a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Wouter van der Wal: Expanding Knowledge

His session is about the quirks of fate that determined his professional trajectory, including being chased by a grizzly bear in Banff, Canada.

Source: Delta article 25 April 2013

Ariadna Cruz Velis: Chasing Windmills

Ariadna Cruz Velis started the evening with her book ‘Chasing Windmills’. In four chapters she told the audience about her life in Mexico; the difficulties she had to overcome and the battles she had fought. Some won, some lost. “They say: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger’. That is not true, you just got lucky. You are just different, not stronger”

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."

"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza.

"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well-nigh two leagues in length."

"Take care, sir," cried Sancho. "Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone."

—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valorous Don Quixote's success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.

Ariadna was a very young girl when she read about the mythical Quixote and fell in love with the characters and the story. She could not understand why no one could see Don Quixote was a genius, a visionary. While others saw him as a ridiculous and sad figure, who in his delirium spotted giants to fight in a simple windmill field, someone to make fun of, someone who had to be taught how the world really was, she saw a hero who could discover opportunities in every adversity, and the beginning of a new adventure every day. He also had the extraordinary talent to find the good qualities of everyone who crossed his path. Perhaps he was too idealistic, but he was happy in his own way.

Like Don Quixote, Ariadna had a vision for her future, which was fed by the insatiable desire to learn more each day about anything and anyone. Like him, she spent several years of her life sitting and devouring book after book, until the stories she read were as real as life, and the border between the characters and the people sitting next to her everyday disappeared.

As the years passed, she kept true to her nature of windmill chaser and learned how to fight for what she wanted. At times it was difficult to hold on to her dreams and make them happen. She met many interesting people along her journey, including characters of other books, but always kept Don Quixote in her heart as a dear old friend. One day she found the opportunity to change the course of her life, she could move to another continent, crossing an ocean away from her deceased family and everything she knew. After studying for a year, she started looking for job opportunities and a smile came to her face when she read about the possibility of becoming a researcher on wind energy. "More windmills to chase", she thought. This is a story about chasing dreams, about fighting adversity and staying true to oneself. The wonderful thing about dreams is they can be as big or small, and as simple or complex as we want. They reflect our inner desires and goals and many times are impossible to achieve, either because they are unrealistic or because we are not persistent enough. However, even if we never accomplish our dreams we will always have many stories to tell…

About Ariadna Cruz Velis

Since 2002 I had the opportunity to participate in DIME Corporation in Mexico, a consulting business specialized in the development, assessment and compliance certification of internal corporate standards, policies, and practices for large companies. After some years of experience, I became co-owner of the company, and my experience as entrepreneur and consultant was very satisfactory. One of our main customers at the time was PEMEX (the national oil and gas company), and I enjoyed learning about their technical functions and technologic development.

I have completed a Masters of Science degree in Public Administration at Leiden University which focused on the development of educational strategy and research policy within the European Union governance structure. However, my technical interests brought me to Delft University, where I work on a PhD project on smart regulation for far and large offshore wind integration.

My other life interests include art, literature, music (especially jazz), languages, cultural studies and fine food.

Elvin Karana

Happiness, Wabi Sabi and Einstein

Elvin begins her story with an unusual and rather personal question: ‘How!happy are you?’showing a scale from 1 to7 tochoose from. After this she asks why people have chosen a specific number on the scale. Aspects such as family, friends, partners, health and jobs are mentioned, nevertheless,it seems hard to give a specific reason for being happy. Elvin explains that many have attempted to give a clear definition of!happiness, but that everyone should find a definition that fits them best.

For some people this can be Maslow’s description of peak experiences during which a person feels more whole, alive, selfsufficient, and yet a part of the world. For Elvin a book on Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic ideal which centres on the acceptance of imperfection, provided her with the answer in the words of Albert Einstein:

“Attach your lives to a goal; no people or things.” Albert Einstein

By doing so you can follow your own path, leading to what you want to do and achieve in life. For Elvin this has been a guide throughout her PhD journey the key to her happiness.

A good read about Wabi Sabi: Juniper A.(2003) Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence; Tuttle Publishing.

Judith Redi: The difference

Difference has a negative connotation. It indicates the loss of something: value, unity, harmony (Oxford dictionary defines it as “the remainder left after subtraction”, “dissimilarity”, “disagreement”).

Yet, I have always been fascinated by differences and by what is different. My living book is about how I learnt to create value and harmony out of difference.


Wim Thijs

Thijs peppered his narrative with animated slides (which included a beating heart) and a soundtrack of organ music played by him. He studied at TU until the early 80s, after which he left to travel the world as a professional windsurfer and set up a family business. In 1998 the former windsurfing world champion returned to the university.

Source: Delta article 31 October 2014

Jeroen Wildenbeest

Wildenbeest’s research explores how one can combine human flexibility and dexterity with robotic speed and accuracy. Wildenbeest is no stranger to explaining science in layman’s terms. To aid his story, he brought along props. One was a device that demonstrated teleoperation and the other a steering wheel reminiscent of 90s video games. The steering wheel controls a vehicle on the computer and is designed for part-automated and part-human control. The audience member who volunteered to test drive drove so badly that the audience called for his license to be revoked!

Source: Delta article 31 October 2014

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