Estefany Mena, Quito, Ecuador
Publish date: 4 June 2020
I am Estefany Mena, graduated from the Landscape Architecture Master track in 2016. After finishing my master, I came back to my home city, Quito-Ecuador, to work and live here.
Since two years ago, I have been working at the Municipality of Quito, specifically at the Metropolitan Institute of Urban Planification, where most of the time we work from an office, however since the Coronavirus started its propagation in the country, I have been working from home. At the beginning it was easy to get used to it, we had long meetings to coordinate the tasks, each member of the team worked on their activities and at the end of the week we handed in our results; despite the organization, after some weeks, the amount of work started to be larger and meetings were arranged even during weekends, so no schedule at all. At some point, work combined with all house activities was very exhausting; luckily, I have been sharing this weird and new reality with my boyfriend, therefore, we support and help each other at work activities and home duties too, so despite the situation we live now, it has been good for us to be together.
But of course, everything has changed, now we have online parties and meetings, we go to the supermarket every two weeks, and we rarely go out together. Last week was the day we spent more hours outside due to a protest against the government, thousands of people were at the street protesting, all of us using masks and keeping at least one-meter distance.
Now, after 75 days of a restricted quarantine (people can be at the streets from 5:00 am until 2:00 pm, cars are allowed to go out only one day during the week, only some offices/stores are opened, a safe-conduct is needed to go to the doctor after 2:00 pm, restaurants need safe-conducts to deliver their food, there is no public transportation, and people cannot go out without a mask), Quito is preparing to confront a new reality. To control the number of infections, the government had created a “traffic light”; at the moment we are in red but since Wednesday, June 3rd our city will be in yellow, this implies different restrictions. We are allowed to go out from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm, offices can re-start their activities with only 50% of the staff, more stores can open, cars can circulate 3 days during the week, among others.
I am not sure how this new reality will be, I am a bit afraid that since we have fewer restrictions and after being “locked up” so many days, people will go out without being careful and infections can increase; however, I am very happy that now I can visit my mom and siblings often, although, always wearing a mask and without hugs and kisses.
Bastiaan Lagaune, Stockholm, Sweden
Publish date: 20 May 2020
My name is Bastiaan Lagaune and I am an Aerospace Engineering alumnus (2016 graduate in the Spaceflight track) who has been living and working in Stockholm now for a small year. I work as a space business engineer at OHB Sweden, where I work on all new satellite business opportunities.
After having experienced a summer and a winter in Stockholm, I was looking forward to the summer again! The winter up in the North has its beauty for sure as well, but the summer wins from the winter in terms of vividness! For the past months it did not look too good for what was going to be a different summer up here, but things are moving in the right direction!
For me this crisis all started beginning of March, after returning from a family weekend in Belgium I felt a bit sick. So of course, I immediately isolated myself. At that time the Swedish government announced that everybody should work from home (if possible), with the result that also here all toilet paper was gone for 1-2 weeks or so. In the meantime Europe went in full lockdown, borders were closed, restaurants were closed etc. etc., but not in Sweden, yes the news you heard was/is correct. Even though people were largely working from home, the restaurants and cafes were still open and being used by quite a lot of people. If there is one thing that Swedes have in common, it is the sun! After the dark winter, the entire country awakens and takes maximum advantage of every sun ray they can find, before you know it, it’s winter again and the streets are empty.
Working from home has shown that it is perfectly possible to work flexible and remotely, even in large teams. I started every morning (after a small run now and then) with a small call-in stand-up with my team to discuss the day and we were off. I do hope that after this crisis people realize that being in the office from 9-5 is not strictly required for a lot of jobs (not all) and that it potentially can save a lot of traffic jams!
During the crisis I had the opportunity to join a DEAN (Dutch Engineering Alumni Network) online borrel (drink) which was super cool because in this call I virtually met a lot of alumni in Stockholm which I had no clue of it were that many. I hope to connect with them soon in person!
Michel van Roozendaal, Singapore
Publish date: 20 May 2020
Greetings from Singapore! My name is Michel van Roozendaal, and despite having graduated in Aerospace Engineering (1988), I am heading a maritime business (MacGregor), with our global HQ here in Singapore.
We had the first COVID-19 case end of January in a hotel just down the road from where I live. We reacted swiftly, sent masks to China to protect our team there, kept people at home who had travelled abroad and did temperature checks for anybody entering the office. I must say I misjudged the situation; I thought that we could contain this virus like it was done with SARS, but the world has become much more interconnected compared to 17 years ago, and COVID-19 spread globally.
MacGregor is categorized as part of an “essential industry”, so we can continue to operate, with many people “WFH”, during the “Circuit breaker” lockdown here in Singapore. Recently we saw a spike in cases with people living in dormitories, locally referred to as “foreign workers”; many of them working for example in shipyards. So we had to be extra careful in protecting our people at these shipyards, preventing a further spread of Covid-19, whilst the government in Singapore is working hard to improve the general conditions for the foreign workers here.
Fortunately, the number of cases in the city has come down to just 4 today. We have to wear masks in the office, as well as in taxis or buses. I think masks will be an important tool for allowing people to go back to work, back to shops and restaurants as long as there is no vaccine or cure.
Today the city is still fairly empty, so I could take my bike out and go to a wet market to get some fresh fruit and vegetables!
Klaas de Boer, Wimbledon, United Kingdom
Publish date: 20 May 2020
Klaas de Boer, MSc Applied Physics 1990
My last “normal” day in the office in South Kensington was 11 March, over 2 months ago. On the 13th I took my last flights, a day trip to the Netherlands, and our office formally closed. I have been back in by bicycle twice since to collect papers I needed and to collect the mail.
After the initial rush of stocking up on food and toilet paper, ordering a new PC and decent printer (also for the two teenage boys), repatriating our oldest son Nick (19) from Cornell (where he is a sophomore), and securing Ocado (online supermarket) delivery slots, life settled into a new routine. Or so we thought until Alex (17) our youngest came down with COVID-19.
We managed to (just) keep him out of the hospital, but it also meant 14 days of full quarantine. We don’t know whether anyone else got it as there is no testing available.
Workwise I have been able to manage. As a venture capital investor, I can do nearly everything remotely, at least for a while. We even managed to complete an equity offering for a small public company I chair, Xeros Technologies, with a fully virtual roadshow. For most of the companies I am involved with, our current assessment is that we are looking at delays, rather than an existential crisis.
I am however director of one social venture, offering exercise classes and day trips for care home residents, which had to switch gears from raising £3 million in growth capital to fighting for survival within 2 weeks.
What I probably miss most is spontaneous, random interactions with other people. I used to travel (by plane) more or less weekly, attend conferences, have dinners before or after board meetings. Now everything is predictable and scheduled on Zoom, Teams etc. I have not yet found a good way to make up for that, and suggestions are welcome (although we have re-instated the weekly “clubborrel” with my yearclub from DSC).
The lockdown here in the UK seems stricter than in the Netherlands, and what is frustrating is the total absence so far of an exit strategy, whereas many countries in continental Europe have started to relax the rules and have published fairly detailed timetables. What does it mean for our sons’ education?
Will Cornell re-open in September with students on campus? What does it mean for our other son’s school exams and university applications next year?
This is probably where our family is impacted most. At least we will have a quiet summer in Wimbledon with the tennis cancelled this year..
Elise van Dam, New York, USA
Publish date: 6 April 2020
I am Elise van Dam, I studied Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft with a Master’s in Aerodynamics (graduated 2015). I currently live in New York, USA, where I work for ING Americas covering the Telecom, Media and Technology sector.
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed my life and those of all New Yorkers. The Governor of the state of New York has mandated that gyms, restaurants, theatres, museums and all other non-essential businesses remain closed through the pandemic. I, like my colleagues and friends, have been working from home since the second week of March. Work itself has also changed with a higher focus on supporting our clients through this turbulent economic time. My team, as well as most of my friends, left the City to stay in vacation homes with family and friends.
With most people self-isolating and no tourists, New York is empty, as can be seen from my picture of Times Square, taken this past Sunday. Normally the area is so packed with tourists, I avoid the area on my way home from the office.
I am very grateful I can still go outside and take a daily walk on the empty streets or through Central Park, which is beautiful in the spring. I hope it will stay this way, especially given the size of New York apartments is very small.
Xuefei, Beijing, China
Publish date: 6 April 2020
Hi, everybody. I am Xuefei from Beijing, China. I used to study in Architecture and the Built Environment and went back to China 5 years ago.
As you may know, the situation in China is getting better. But I still work at home most of the time. It has been like this for 2 months.
Restaurants and shopping centres are gradually back to their tempo. But we still need to be very careful in daily life for ourselves. It is a tough time though, but we also have more time for our family and pets. And I also found it is a good opportunity to study for your own interest online because you finally have time.
The most important thing I would like to share is every time you go outside and back, be sure to wash your hands for the time you can sing "happy birthday song" twice, that helps. We will definitely overcome at the end, just take care of ourselves now. Here is my balcony, my cats always sleep on my hands or keyboard when I am working. Hope everyone could have a good mood in the quarantine time.
Diego Alatorre, Mexico City, Mexico
Publish date: 6 April 2020
My name is Diego Alatorre, I graduated from Design for Interaction in 2013 and as I came back to Mexico City, I began working at the Industrial Design Research Center from Mexico's National University. Since a couple of weeks ago, due to the Coronavirus I started teaching from home.
From what I have seen these last weeks I would say I like the approach to decentralizing education, nonetheless it is not easy, especially for certain tasks as collaborating with other teachers and following up students projects. Creativity in general is hard to teach and hard to assess, but distantly is even harder. Particularly in terms of the emotional bonding needed to design in teams (like collectively taking decisions about form, meaning and other creative processes) is not as structured as some people might think.
Rather than depressing, I find this quite an interesting research opportunity, since there is no much theory nor technological tools to facilitate online creative collaboration. On the other hand, the theory and tools that do exist are not widely spread, and there is a need for socializing how to take and use them. This opportunity has also made evident how knowledge does not only flows from professors to students, but how students can also teach professors. And I quite really like that.
The day I went to take my office home, I also went to see the empty campus from above and took a photo on top ceiling of the Auditorium Alfonso Caso.
Marco Forgione, Lombardia, Italy
Publish date: 6 April 2020
I am Marco Forgione and I got my PhD from TU Delft (3mE Faculty) in 2014.
The COVID-19 crisis is having a huge impact on my lifestyle as I currently live with my girlfriend Giulia in Lombardia, the Italian region that has been most affected by the epidemic.
We live under strict quarantine and are allowed to leave home only for basic needs like grocery shopping. To be honest, I don't mind this part too much as I get to spend more quality time with Giulia. She happens to be a great cook, either! You can see her tasty homemade bread with our beautiful Dutch tulips.
Only a few categories of workers in vital sectors like public health, food & health industry, and utilities are still carrying out their activities on-site. I am grateful to all these people (including my mother, general practitioner) that are out there, guaranteeing our everyday wellness in these hard times.
My academic research activities in Artificial Intelligence continue from home with a limited impact on my productivity. I write formulas on a piece of paper, then have a video-call with colleagues, all this while training neural networks on my home PC - which is luckily powerful enough as it was meant for playing videogames!
Not everybody is as lucky as I am. Families are losing their dears while freelancers, entrepreneurs, and casual workers may be partially or completely losing their income.
This moment might be harsh, but I believe that we will make it through by joining everyone’s forces and following the prescriptions. Meanwhile, we enjoy working, cooking, and spending time together at home!
Jitendra Singh, Bangalore, India
Publish date: 6 April 2020
This is Jitendra Singh who graduated Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from TU Delft in 2007. Currently, I live in Bangalore (India) with my family – wife (working), a son (18 years) and a daughter (12 years). Taking the tradition forward, my son also got an admission offer from TU Delft for BS program commencing 2020.
Corona did affect several activities, both at professional front and personal. Sure I would enjoy working from home for a short period but that’s not effective enough for longer duration due to lack of formal settings, face to face interactions etc. However, I must admit that it seems to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when I can enjoy my time with family without looking at my watch or the calendar. Particularly, enjoying time with my pets i.e. a golden retriever, a cat and her three kittens (who are growing up well during pollution-free lockdown period).
Like everyone else, my daily life is impacted too as am unable to go for jogging in the morning and sports in the evening, which was more of a rule than an exception. There are no family outings, no vacations and no social gatherings. Having said that I do believe that there has been a positive side which sprung out of this Corona situation. I would say that mother nature is trying to tell us something, while raising several questions, for example, as a human race have we exploited the planet too much and long enough? Have we forgotten to look inward? Is silence still significant?
I feel that this whole situation has kind of pressed the reset button in our lives. There is hardly any traffic, lesser pollution, less power consumption and which means the ozone layer may be healing. Earth may be feeling less burdened. Our consumer habits have changed drastically, as we are not spending on unnecessary things and naturally learning to be minimalist in nature. Birds and butterflies are much happier.
At present, I can offer my time, which means any local coordination required by alumni (his/her family) in distress, as per the prevailing rules. Furthermore, as an alumnus, I can offer to mentor young students/alumni on aerospace engineering.
Lastly, my advice in this situation is to be fluid. Go with the flow, there is no rush. Just be with nature, everything will work out just fine.
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