A portfolio fit for purpose

Sharpening our focus on a themed portfolio – let’s hear from the newly appointed Academic Portfolio Directors 

In a recent article, Rob Mudde, Vice-President Education reminded us that continuing education sits firmly within TU Delft’s education agenda. Fulfilling our university’s mission to form scientists and engineers who will embrace and find solutions to the big challenges of our time, also means continuing to provide the knowledge they need to further develop their skills and keep working at this challenges beyond campus, into their professional careers. Through the Extension School, TU Delft wishes to grow its portfolio of online courses and programs for lifelong learners and working professionals. 

But what are these important environmental and societal areas of expertise that we wish to equip learners for? And what does it mean to grow our educational offering in these themes? The newly appointed Extension School Academic Portfolio Directors (APDs) tell us their views and aspirations for the themes they are responsible for. 

(left to right, from top): Arjan van Timmeren, Arvind Gangoli Rao, Menno Veldhorst, René van Swaaij, and Tim Horeman-Franse.

Arjan van Timmeren, APD Sustainable Cities

“To me continuous learning is not an end goal but rather a way of being” says Arjan van Timmeren, Chair in Environmental Technology & Design (A+BE), “this conviction drives me both as a teacher in online education and as APD for the Sustainable Cities theme. Not surprisingly, this is one of particular relevance as it connects like no other to our daily living - encompassing a range of pressing challenges that will define our future; our future of (urban) living, liveability, health and well-being. Though no two cities are exactly alike, they are all highly dependent on the built and natural environment of their surrounding hinterlands. Urban growth is inexorably linked to the network of infrastructures and mobility that ensure the sustainable flow of essential materials, energy, and waste. And this growth will need to be made much more sustainable, whilst also redefining the notion of equity, for multiple scopes and at multiple scales: within the urban agglomerations themselves, between the cities, their peri-urban areas and hinterlands, and even between global regions. It is therefore my intention as APD to work closely with colleagues and external partners to extend our reach and contribution to sustainable development by matching ever more the expertise we have in our faculties with the needs of professionals worldwide.” 

Arvind Gangoli Rao, APD Future of Transportation

Sustainability lies also very close to the heart of Arvind Gangoli Rao, Associate Professor of Propulsion & Power (AE), “I’m passionate about improving the sustainability of the aviation sector and in my lectures, I try to link engineering aspects with a global warming background. It is a sobering thought that even if we stopped all emissions today, the warming process would continue for another couple of decades due to the inertia in the system. This is why I find it crucial that as academics we help build knowledge and foster the connections between different disciplines to support learners - also beyond campus - in their search for solutions and viable alternatives to curb the environmental impact of current modes of transport. Thinking about sustainability in the transportation sector, developments in fields such as electric vehicles come easily to mind, however, the area is much richer and more complex. It includes the fields of sustainable air transport, urban air mobility, autonomous transportation systems, railways engineering and infrastructure, rotorcraft developments, etc. It encompasses the pressing challenges of global, sustainable transport systems. TU Delft already offers online courses and programs on some of this disciplines, and as APD for this theme, I will work with colleagues across faculties and externally with partners in academia and industry to find additional opportunities for our portfolio. To continue to enable professional across the whole transport spectrum to face the challenges and build the sustainable connections and modes of transport of the future. One of the things that excite me about the Extension School is that we can take our ideas and technologies straight to the people working in the industry and shorten the time that we require to revolutionize mobility and to make it sustainable.”

Menno Veldhorst, APD Quantum Information Science and Technology

QuTech Group Leader and Lead QuTech Academy, Menno Veldhorst is equally looking forward to the striking advancements expected in his educational theme. “The development of quantum mechanics over the last century has led to an enormous amount of inventions and applications, such as lasers for telecommunication and transistors for computing. Today,” he says, “we are on the brink of a new era, where the deepest and most fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics is actively used to build a radical new technology: quantum technology. Looking at quantum information, science and technology, we see that it is a highly diverse and multi-disciplinary field, spanning disciplines such as physics, engineering, mathematics and computer science. TU Delft has a strong reputation on all of these fronts and as APD for this exciting and innovative theme, I wish to help bring together this expertise from across the various fields. And to offer this expertise in a coherent, strong online-education portfolio to prepare students, industry and society for the quantum revolution that is already at our doors”.

René van Swaaij APD Energy Transition

René van Swaaij, Associate Professor in the Photovoltaics Material and Devices Group (EEMCS), concurs fully with colleagues about the need for provide high-quality education for professionals dealing with emerging technologies. A very relevant topic in connection with the accelerating energy transition we are nowadays experiencing. “The energy transition is one of the most important societal themes in being able to realise a sustainable world”, he comments. “We see this transition is toward renewables, electricity-based technologies, and carbon-free and intelligent energy systems. And this change requires engineering expertise in several areas across the energy cycle, from energy production to its consumption - covering for instance transport, conversion and distribution, as well as the end-use of electricity. Many lecturers at TU Delft teach a varied range of topics in the field of sustainable energy technology, such as heat and electrical energy – technology that is essential to realize the much-needed transition. In my role as APD for this environmentally critical theme, I aim to bring all these topics together in a comprehensive program whereby the online courses we offer strongly contribute to key areas in the energy system. The aspiration is for this program offering to position our university as a major player in (online) energy education.”

Tim Horeman-Franse APD Medical Technology

Talking of being a critical player, Tim Horeman-Franse, Assistant Professor in Sustainable Surgery & Translational Technology (3mE), explains how today TU Delft plays a very important role in the development of medical technology, such as advanced endoscopic devices, instruments, training systems and even surgical procedures. “Early in my career at TU Delft, it became clear to me that good development and implementation of life-saving MedTech innovation is only possible if all stakeholders learn to speak each other’s language. Only then, the conventional problem-solution model can change. The new model would foster real co-creation with medical and technical specialists working side by side, at both the hospital and the engineering departments. It recognises the importance of good context-synergy between clinical use, technology, design and reprocessing in order to keep our health care system healthy and affordable. In my role as APD, I would adopt the same approach in the development of well-aligned blended and online learning formats, which are accessible and meet the needs of all stakeholders/learners - surgeons, educators, hospital staff, MedTech scientists and engineers, and students. I will also communicate the successes achieved by co-creation and act as ambassador for our research lines, to help make clearer to the larger audience the role our university played in successfully adopted MedTech solutions.” 

Note: It is expected that the APD for the theme AI & Cyber Security will be appointed in the coming weeks. They will soon join colleagues and Professor Arno Smets (in his capacity as Director of Extension School Education), in first talks about strategy, and on next steps for courses and programs development, in their areas of responsibility.

For current information on the educational support and activities by the Extension School, see the intranet/employee portal pages and read the Impact Report 2020

For TU Delft’s online education, view the portfolio on the website