Read the stories of our international MSc students at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and discover their experiences of getting used to their new study (and living) environment. Find out their tips to get the most out of the MSc programme or just learn in advance what the best study spots are at the faculty of IDE!
A selection of articles by our international master students
Student Organizations and Ultimate Frisbee
Jack Eichenlaub | October 2021
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.
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.”, 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!
Bikes, Delft, and Nederland!
Vignesh Balakrishnan | April 2021
If you are planning to start masters in the Netherlands, polishing your biking skills should be in your priority list because on Dutch streets, bikes rule. Bikes are an essential part of Dutch culture and holds even more importance in student life; Your bike is your best friend. Be it going to campus, grocery shopping, visiting a friend or to just for leisure, bikes make life easier. Delft is a beautiful city with both narrow alleys and picturesque streets. Most roads have dedicated bike track and with having a maximum speed of 30 kmph in every living area makes biking even safer. Biking can be a really enjoyable experience in Delft especially with lush green nature surrounding the city. If you are coming here to Delft, here are a few tips and trips in relation to biking.
Getting a bike
In a country where bikes outnumber people, choosing a bike for yourself is going to be tricky. You have to decide which bike suits you best and where to get it from. You have a lot to choose from depending on your preference and there are multiple ways with which you can buy one. Here are some useful links.
Long term bike rental - https://swapfiets.nl
Short term bike rental - https://www.ns.nl/en/door-to-door/ov-fiets
Bike stores – Fietscyclette, Decathlon, Wijtman Tweewielers.
Maintaining a bike
Every bike deserves attention but sometimes it attracts bad attention. It is always a good practice to chain the frame of your bike to the rack even if you’re just running errands for a few minutes. Maintaining the bike regularly could save you good money as repairs are not cheap. In case you need a repair, the train stations usually have bike repair facility priced reasonably.
Using a bike
In addition to helping with your day to day chores bikes can also be an energizing hobby. I find it refreshing to go biking in the weekends in and around Delft for a few hours. Getting away from screens to get some fresh air enhances wellbeing. Although there are quite a few places I'm yet to discover, here are the three routes that I would recommend you trying.
(click to view route)
Until next time!
Writing a paper and getting it published
Regina Morán | July 2020
During the master, you will write papers in some courses, and you can decide to present or try to publish your work. For this article, I will share my own experience in publishing a paper.
I will explain what the project is about, where it was presented, what the biggest challenge was, and the learnings. I have also interviewed another student who wrote a paper as part of the research elective.
Publishing a paper
I realised my research as part of the research elective (see electives overview). The research elective consists of realising a research project; for instance, it could be in collaboration with an existing research in the faculty. Besides, you can select the working hours you will assign to the project (e.g. 3, 6, 7, 8, or 9 EC). For my project, I was coached by Dr. ir. Marina Bos-de Vos. and together we defined I will assign the hours needed to receive 9 EC.
What was my project about?
It is about collaboration in healthcare. I studied eight open innovation initiatives in healthcare in the Netherlands to explore how they are working to contribute to a sustainable healthcare system.
Where did I publish my work?
Since, the beginning we (my coach and I) looked for opportunities, and we found out the 6th European Conference on Design4Health would take place in July 2020. Although the conference got cancelled due to COVID-19, we still managed to publish the paper (see full paper here). Timewise it was perfect because I started my project in September, so I had time to apply.
What was my biggest challenge to publish?
The theme I was exploring is a bit complex, and I wanted to include a lot of information (see Figure 1). When I realised there was a word limit for the paper, I had to cut out a significant percentage of the paper. It was challenging for me to scope down the study and talk only about concrete findings.
Figure 1. Analysis session
What did I learn from this experience?
My most significant learning was to have a clear goal and scope down the project; otherwise, you will never finish. Besides, a good advice I got from my coach was to focus on what is really interesting and what are the mechanisms that are causing this. So my advice would be, that if you are doing research and writing a paper, you need to know what you are adding to the existing literature and why your contribution is relevant.
In the end, writing down a paper is a learning exercise, it is an excellent opportunity to learn more a specific topic of your interest. Besides, by publishing, you contribute to existing research, and you are presenting yourself as an expert on a specific topic.
Writing a paper
I continue with the story of Jesal Shah; she is currently studying the master of Strategic Product Design.
What was your project about?
The project was under the domain of design-led transitions. It was done as part of the research elective, under the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Price. It aimed at understanding how design can be applied to transverse and connect different perspectives in order to achieve sustainable transitions. Using the recent demonetisation effort in India as a case study, we reflected on how design could have been applied to improve the transition, as well as to anticipate and alleviate social losses encountered during socio-technical transitions.
What was your biggest challenge to publish?
Since the paper has not been submitted yet, the challenge would be to find the appropriate platform, journal, or conference to present the paper. We have put up a pre-print working paper on ResearchGate to gain some interest and feedback from the research community (see pre-print here).
What did you learn from this experience?
That it is vital to define the goal and scope of the research explicitly; it helps to stay on point. Although my process was very organic, early decisions (e.g. which case study and point of view to pursue) helped in guiding the process. Having a well-defined method of organising the materials you have read is key. Otherwise, it is challenging to keep track of literature (the content, its relevance, and important aspects) and find relevant sources or arguments while you are writing your paper. Lastly, pursuing the project helped me find my writing style (both language and process-wise) as a novice researcher. I write a lengthy first draft to ensure I have captured all my ideas and arguments. I build it for redundancy since it is much easier to remove things rather than add later on.