This is not a drill!
The engineering departments’ collection of machinery is growing! Students are learning how to work with heavier equipment and how they can incorporate them into their design and building process. Of course safety comes first, so lab coats, safety goggles and protective shoes are a must when working in this space.
October 29, 2019
Last Friday Veerle was interviewed about her experience as an Engineering student at UCR by GirlsFuture, a magazine for high-school students who are interested in pursuing a STEM-field study and career. We look forward to reading the interview in print and online in January!
You can see some more ‘making-off’ photos on their Instagram page
Energy Transition Project: midterm presentations
October 24, 2019
This week the midterm presentations of the Energy Transition project course took place! The two groups of students took turns discussing the progress they have made on their sustainable-material products. Both teams have been working on their first prototypes and they shared with us their objectives, the thought process and experimentation, as well as the obstacles they have run into and how they plan to overcome them.
Scroll down to The Energy Transition Project to read more about their work.
Solar Cells Masterclass
October 21, 2019
During the first Open Day of the academic year students participated in an Engineering Master Class given by Dr. Gudrun Kocher-Oberlehner. In this session Dr. Kocher-Oberlehner gave a short lecture on the conversion of light into electricity, known as photovoltaics. This included a demonstration of how light intensity influences the power output of a solar cell.
Students used multimeters to measure the change in voltage and current when the solar cells are connected in series versus when they are connected in parallel. They observed that when cells are connected in series the voltage adds up and the current stays (practically) the same. On the other hand, when cells are connected in parallel, the voltage in each string stays the same but the current adds up, which can results in an unfavorable by-product: heat.
The students then compared the effect of shading of part of a cell on the current produced when the cells are connected in parallel versus in series. They learned that shading has a much larger influence on the power output of cells connected in series compared to those connected in parallel.
In conclusion, when cells connected in series, even a little bit of shade on them will cause the power output to drop dramatically; but when cells are connected in parallel there’s a higher risk of fire (because of the high current and the heat). These are important aspects the students have learned to take into account if they ever intended to install solar panels!
October 14, 2019 – October 19, 2019
Students are currently enjoying their well-deserved Fall Break; after seven weeks of hard work and midterms, they now have the chance to visit their families, relax, and perhaps even do a little bit of studying and catch up on work.
In the meantime, do you have “the knack”?
Workshop in Woodworking
October 10, 2019
Last week the engineering students had their first workshop on woodworking, led by Erik de Jonge. They practiced drawing grids using a ruler and carpenter’s angle to design the letters T and F on plywood. They then went on to cut out the letter-shapes using a tenon saw and a scroll saw. Finally they sanded their works to erase the grid-marks and to smoothen the wood.
Along with academic skills it is important for the Engineering students to learn some practical skills. This includes learning how to work with different raw materials and understanding their mechanical (and potentially electrical, magnetic, thermal) properties. It is necessary for engineers to be able to build prototypes and put their knowledge not only on paper, but also into practice.
This workshop is part of a series of more hands-on work that the students do in their Project courses each semester.
The Energy Transition Project
October 8, 2019
Kristina (left) and Veerle (right) are members of two teams within the Energy Transition Project course. In this course teams of students are designing and making a product which they believe is a sustainable solution.
Both Kristina’s group and Veerle’s group are focusing on biodegradable materials: the former is developing a leather-like material made of SCOBY, the latter is developing a thread made of nettle-fibers.
Kristina explained that even though leather made of animal skin is a very popular choice in fashion, it is unsustainable. This is because in order to produce it enormous amounts of water are used, and leather takes a very long time to degrade because of the chemicals used to preserve it. While searching for innovative materials she came across SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)– a by-product of kombucha, a fermented tea. All the team members are currently brewing their own Kombucha at home with slight variations, to see which method produces the best SCOBY. Kristina’s first “shitty prototype” is already on its way, as a SCOBY is growing on top of her batch of kombucha. The group believes that the most challenging part will be to dry the SCOBY in a way that will allow it to still be malleable and water resistant.
Veerle’s group was looking for a sustainable plant-fabric, but they did not want to focus on clothes or bags because they feel those items are already receiving a lot of attention and change is already on its way in that sector. Instead, they decided to design a thread from nettles to make fishing nets. Veerle told us that most of the plastic found in the ocean is deserted fishing nets, so biodegradable nets would be one way of considerably reducing ocean plastic. Veerle’s group has already dried and crushed some nettles to remove the fibers and will be soon producing their first threads. The group realized that even though this material is cheap to acquire (nettles are literal weeds), producing the threads is quite labor intensive. One aspect of the process the group thinks will be challenging is to find the right balance between solubility and sturdiness.
Both Veerle and Kristina seem to enjoy the creativity and problem-solving involved in their projects, and they have become very efficient in researching literature.
“It’s fun to work in groups, but it is definitely not less work!” Veerle said, laughing.
We look forward to following their progress and of course their final products!
October 2, 2019
University College Roosevelt, and therefore the Engineering department, will be represented at a series of fairs in the Netherlands by Eva (assistant to the Engineering department), Evi (recruitment officer) and student ambassadors!
Come say hi on the following dates, and ask us anything you would like to know about studying Engineering within Liberal Arts & Sciences at UCR.
4-5 October @ Onderwijsbeurs Noordoost (Zwolle)
8 October @ Careers Fair International School Groningen
13 November @ NXTLVL Apeldoorn
20 November @ Studiebeurs+ (Rotterdam)
And of course at our own Open Days at UCR on the 12th of October and 9th of November.
Would you like us to visit your school and tell you about more about our program? Do not hesitate to get in touch by sending an email to Eva at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting Lamb Weston/Meijer
September 25, 2019
This week our group visited the potato-processing facility Lamb Weston/Meijer, and more specifically their water-treatment plant. Colsen, a company from Zeeuws Vlaanderen with water purification expertise gave us an introduction to the biochemical processes that take place to clean the water. Tons of water are being purified with the help of bacteria, which only survive under very specific circumstances regarding temperature, pH, and more. Our students got an impression of the immense scale such facilities work in, and learned about the importance of purifying water for a cleaner environment.
Field trip to Saman Groep, Zierikzee
September 20, 2019
Kristina, one of our students from The Republic of North Macedonia, writes about our last field trip:
“On the 18th of September me and some other fellow pioneer students, together with some professors and staff from the Engineering department had our second field trip to Saman Groep. During our visit, we go to know how the company works and what is their purpose. Saman Groep is a company which aim is to make sustainable energy accessible to everyone. The company realizes both small and large-scale projects for both individuals and companies within the installation, electricity, construction and sustainable energy sectors.”
For more information on Saman Groep, click here.
September 19, 2019
In today’s class of the Energy Transition Project, our students received some training from Erik de Jonge, who has recently started at UCR and the Engineering department as our technical support! They practiced making isometric drawings, which is a skill necessary to be able to communicate ideas about design and structure precisely.
Who Are You? The Dean interviews Dr. İlke Ercan
September 16, 2019
For his weekly column, Dean Prof. Bert van den Brink interviews a Faculty member, a Staff member, or a student. This week, he spoke to associate professor Dr. İlke Ercan about her experience with Liberal Arts and Sciences, her values, and her ambitions. Read the interview below!
Who are you?
I am İlke Ercan, I am new engineering faculty at UCR. I am an electrical engineer by training and I have a background in physics.
Where are you from?
I am from Antalya, a seaside city in Southern Turkey. I was born and raised there. I moved to Ankara for college. I was at Middle East Technical University. As soon as I graduated I moved to the US for my master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I did not originally plan to do a Ph.D. in engineering. But I was very impressed with the theoretical aspect of engineering research pursued in my lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, so I decided to proceed with the Ph.D. program in engineering.
What kind of lab were you working in?
It was a theory and simulation lab on nanoelectronics. I pursued my Ph.D. on energy efficiency of emerging nanocomputing systems. Since 1980s, the building blocks of modern computer processors have been shrinking in size steadily enabling us to progressively develop smaller circuits operating at increasingly faster speeds. However, there are physical limits to this trend, and numerous proposals are being set forth to overcome these limitations. In fields like medicine and engineering especially we do need more powerful computers for more advanced solutions — and they need to be more energy efficient too. In my doctoral thesis I developed a methodology that enables us to assess the performance of these different proposals, which did not seem to have a common ground at all. By using my background in physics I was able to create physical models of computing systems by which different proposals could be compared on an equal footing. My work on performance analysis of nanocomputing systems eventually led me to broader questions of energy efficiency and sustainability in Information and Communication Technologies, which is one of the things I will be working on here at UCR.
And I believe you had some liberal arts experience in the US?
I did. While I was still a grad student, finishing my Ph.D., I got an offer from neighboring Smith College to teach a course in circuit theory, but in a liberal arts context. I spent a semester there, teaching in their Picker program in Engineering, and it had such a strong impact on my academic career. I had originally planned to pursue a career at a research intensive engineering institute, however, my experience at Smith College showed how rewarding it is to work with small groups of highly engaged students interested in a broad range of topics who are eager to make research an educational experience! I loved being there and they loved having me there, so they asked me to stay a little bit longer — and I did.
My experience at Smith College has strongly influenced my decision to come to UCR. The students interested in engineering here are liberal arts and sciences students. We are not treating them as hardcore engineering students. They are more broadminded, adaptable and flexible than that — and engineers need to be in today’s world. As I noticed during my Ph.D. research, advancements in emerging technologies require us to adapt very quickly to new developments. I had a minor in philosophy of science and had taken courses in the sociology of engineering, which allowed me to make more informed decisions about my career and supported my pursuing an interdisciplinary path. That is why I believe that the breadth of knowledge characteristic of the liberal arts will make you a better engineer. And engineering can contribute to liberal arts as well; consider those interested in policy making and governance for instance. These students will benefit from a good grasp of modern technologies and their impact. The breadth of liberal arts and sciences makes engineering stronger, and specific knowledge about technology and engineering strengthens the quality of UCR’s program as a whole.
I know that when Smith College introduced engineering 15 years ago, worries surfaced that resemble those we have seen at UCR: the fear that a focus on technology and the funding available for it may cause the college to drift away from its core values. How do you relate to that?
I certainly understand these worries. A lot is about our vocabulary: students who engage in engineering at UCR are liberal arts students, just like students in sociology or art and design are. And I actually think that adding engineering is not the real problem. The college is going through some major changes with regard to the academic core and the languages. That development has made it a challenge for the wider community to welcome engineering. The two developments are not co-related, yet, the timing requires us to process both transitions simultaneously. Despite this difficulty, however, the majority of colleagues have been very welcoming; they invited us to classes, have introduced us to their ways of teaching, and we are discussing ways in which we can collaborate on a number of projects. So we are working our way around biases.
It is true that we are doing a lot at the same time. Bringing change to an institution is never easy, but we are getting there. But let me change the subject by throwing my final question at you: What is your greatest ambition?
My professional ambition is to make higher education as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Education has changed my life. I come from what I would call a semi-educated family. My dad did not finish high school, my mom dropped out of college to marry my dad. I am the very first person in the whole of my extended family to ever get a Ph.D. I know how big of a privilege that is and I am immensely grateful to everyone who has supported me in following this path. I appreciate how much it has helped me to become myself. I want that transformational power to be accessible to as many people as possible. Education is both a personal and a social process. We need to make higher education as personal as possible, like UCR’s new motto on the website: an education built around you. I am a firm believer in one-on-one contact between students and teaching faculty. The personal connection is what enables us to help students find ways to integrate what they have learned at the theoretical level into their personal lives.
Ministries and provincial council visit the Engineering department
September 13, 2019
We were very happy to welcome a group of representatives from the Provincial Council of Zeeland, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Affairs , and the Ministry of the Interior today. As the Engineering department is part of the Zeeland region deal, they visited UCR during their tour to see what the new department is about and the role it plays in the Beta Campus Zeeland project.
Students Emil and Veerle, as well as Dr. İlke Ercan, discussed their experiences in the weeks they have been at the university, their expectations of the department, and what they are hoping to achieve during their time at UCR.
You can read more about the region deal here (Dutch).
First field trip
September 4, 2019
The Engineering group went on their first field trip this Wednesday to biomass power plant Duurzame Energie Sirjansland (DES) BV. They got an impression of what a power plant looks like and learned about DES’ process of using green waste (wood chips) to create heat for their glasshouses and CO2 for spurring plant growth.
As the power plant is situated on Schouwen-Duiveland, we took the scenic route and the students got to see the Oosterscheldekering, the beautiful Zeeuws scenery, as well as some cultural heritage (the Plompe Toren!).
The Engineering group will be visiting some more companies throughout their program to have a closer look at how the themes of energy, water, and food production are tackled in Zeeland.
Click here to see what exactly DES BV does.
Don’t try this at home: Setting crisps on fire to measure energy
August 23, 2019
On the final day of their Orientation week, first year students were invited to a ‘carousel’ of energy-related workshops around the UCR campus, organized by the Youth Energy Society Challenge (YESC). Dr. Ilke Ercan and Dr. Gudrun Kocher-Oberlehner presented the students with a DIY calorie measuring experiment. They burned high-fat-content crisps and, using the energy generated from that, heated up a small quantity of water. The temperature change of the water was an accurate predictor of the calorie content as stated on the crisp package! We look forward to more workshops and lectures related to energy within our Energy Transition project-course which is taking place for the first time ever in Fall 2019.
August 21, 2019
One of our new students, Emil from Oslo, spoke to the PZC about coming to study in Middelburg. Read the article (in Dutch) here.
“The streets of Middelburg are beautiful. The brick houses look so modern. The people here are quite similar to people from Oslo: very friendly and incredibly helpful.”
Welcome Class of 2022!
August 19, 2019
Today, the Class of 2022 has started their social Orientation. This will be the beginning of three years at University College Roosevelt. Six of them will be starting the Engineering Pioneering program, and will help the Faculty and Staff develop the curriculum. We wish them the best of luck!