CLMN | Make mediocrity great again1 June 2017
It’s the final quartile of the year so I reckon some are approaching their graduation while others are getting a year closer to it. Kudos! And as is usual, a closure brings an opportunity for sincere reflection. This time, it may be a purely academic look-back for some, whereas some others may prefer a more wholesome contemplation. It’s at such times, though, that I resume wrestling with my mediocrity and wonder if it’s similar for everyone else.
I agree with Joseph Heller’s counter-Shakespearean “Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them” and although I’m not sure where I fall, I’m quite certain of my extraordinary mediocrity.
And that leads me to wonder if we are cognizant of our average nature, if we ever bask in the unexceptional glory of our ordinariness. After all, we are raised to admire greatness, of conquest, of genius and often of remarkable wealth. And while that inspires us to strive for excellence, I think the parallel quest for identity sometimes impinges on our empathy and, by extension, on our ability to collaborate and to compromise. To me, it is rather obvious why finding common ground can sometimes be difficult when everyone is desperately trying to be uncommon.
When I first stepped into the laboratory, the kick-off conversation with one of the professors included a reminder that I was there only to make small contributions to the research. That echoes these days, especially when goals seem too lofty and failures severe.
It isn’t so that modest expectations don’t succeed. I think, rather, that there is enormous value in consistent mediocrity and that it pushes us to achieve more, from its least acknowledged nook on the learning curve, with some success at times. To be good at something, we must first be excellent at being average, and perhaps celebrate it; that’s probably the most important bit. And although it may take some blood and sweat to wrap this year up, it’s definitely worth the struggle if the recollection brings a smile.
For a while now, TU/e student Guido Buntinx and his friend Christophe Westerveld (student of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences) have been attracting a lot of attention with their 'electric beer crates'. Limburg's regional TV station and the TV news program Editie NL also got wind of their creative initiative. The short internet videos showing them riding along on the public highways have been watched multiple times.
The Department of Applied Physics needs to make significant savings: one million euros on a total annual budget of nine million. This was announced last week Wednesday by Departmental Dean Gerrit Kroesen at a staff meeting. The draft reorganization plan must be ready by the end of November and, says Kroesen, compulsory redundancies cannot be ruled out. The Departmental Council is holding talks today with the Departmental Office.
The fourth day of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia has come to an end and Solar Team Eindhoven is clearly leading the Cruiser Class. Despite earlier transport problems and the limited window for testing on site, TU/e solar car Stella Vie is performing in the outback “far beyond expectations”. With some 900 kilometers to go, a third world title seems almost a dead cert for the team from Eindhoven - but this is no time for complacency.
At this university there are students who are not taking any classes, but they are still forced to pay the full sum of their tuition fee. How is that? When you take a look at what they are doing instead of following courses, their reasons become clear. They form one of the most important cornerstones of the TU/e, they are the student board members and part of student teams.
TU/e has made a considerable leap in the prestigious international Times Higher Education World University Rankings that focus on the subject areas Engineering & Technology and Computer Science. TU/e belongs to the fifteen and eighteen best European universities on these subjects respectively. The THE ranking forms an important yardstick for government departments, policymakers and international students.