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Built Environment pleased with research assessment

19 January 2017

The Department of the Built Environment has done well in the research assessment conducted at the end of last year. The quality of three of its four research programs was regarded as ‘excellent’: the best possible score. The Living Cities program was judged to be ‘very good’. No aspect of the department's research scored less than 'very good'. In addition to their quality, the programs were also assessed for their relevance and viability.

Vice Dean Bauke de Vries, charged with supervising the research assessment, is naturally pleased with the outcome. “It is an important assessment conducted by our colleagues from abroad. Important not only because we ourselves wish to know how good we are, but also because the committee's assessment serves as a measure within the university. Besides, you can learn something from it. That is why we made the deliberate choice to submit ourselves for review at program level rather than at department level. It results in a more detailed appraisal.”

Since the last research assessment held in 2011 much has changed at the department. Under the leadership of the new Dean Elphi Nelissen the research program Innovation in Building Technology has been scrapped, as has the related Master's of Building Technology, following a disappointing evaluation. The program Performance Engineering in the Built Environment was phased out, says De Vries, when the last cohort of students graduated, and Urbanisms has largely been subsumed in Living Cities. “This has left us with four research programs and, to my mind, a balanced offering. The positive outcome of this review suggests there is no reason to make any changes to that.”

An unusual feature of the assessment was the department's decision to include designs in the committee's scope. “The most important output of our design staff is not scientific articles, as it is in engineering disciplines, but designed objects such as models. Partly at the rector's request, we therefore created a version of the Standard Evaluation Protocol, as an experiment, using our own assessment criteria geared to designs. The committee responded positively to this, although it was critical of the fact that we had presented mainly graduation work. They saw that as being related mainly to education; that is something we'll need to think about for next time.”

The customized protocol may also be useful to Industrial Design, believes De Vries. “That department has already shown a great deal of interest in our approach.”

The full review report is available on the intranet (only within TU/e).

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