Flying on campus21 September 2017
In the United States alone more than one million pilotless aircraft are now flying around. Better known as drones, these are an interesting development not only in terms of technology but also for safety and privacy reasons. That was the feeling at Studium Generale, and it was reason enough to have drone manufacturer DJI give a lecture in the Blauwe Zaal, followed by a workshop at a quiet spot on campus.
Lithuanian Tautvydas Juskauskas, Public Business Development Manager of the European branch of DJI, naturally took advantage of the opportunity to paint his company in a good light. This Chinese company controls no less than 70 percent of the market for consumer drones, he said, and is particularly good at stabilizing its 'quadcopters' such that they can take the most stunning aerial photos. “In China people are very proud of us, partly because we are clearly not copycats – of our 11 thousand employees, 6000 are in the R&D department.”
Next, Juskauskas gave a number of examples of useful drone applications, including estimating the risks associated with fires in apartment buildings, and the inspection of critical infrastructure after a natural disaster such as the recent hurricane Harvey in Houston.
During the question session at the end, issues relating to privacy and safety were raised. According to Jaskouskas, DJI has set up no-fly zones – around airports, for example – where drones can never take off. He also said that DJI’s drones will soon be able to fly ‘offline’, so that no information at all is passed on about the drone's position.
At the workshop for a good twenty interested people, held later in the afternoon on the field behind the Multimedia Pavilion, only one drone at a time took to the air. Moreover, it flew in ‘coach mode’, so that instructor Dino van Essen of DJI dealer DroneStars could take over the controls in the event of an emergency.
The quality of education seems to have slipped at TU/e. In the latest Dutch-language guide to universities (Keuzegids Universiteiten), Eindhoven's university has dropped from third place in the overall ranking to seventh place in the course of a year. "It's understandable but it's not good," says President of the Executive Board Jan Mengelers, "and it is all the more reason to push on with introducing an upper limit on student intake to our programs. This is a result of the strong growth in student numbers."
Eindhoven's iGEM team has arrived in Boston. In the coming days, the students will participate in the Giant Jamboree, competing with nearly three hundred teams from all over the world. Their competition entry is their project GUPPI, in which they propose encapsulating tumors in a gel to prevent them growing and spreading.
As well as professors, from now on associate professors (UHD-1) at TU/e may also confer doctoral degrees on PhD candidates. Sixty associate professors were awarded the right to confer doctoral degrees at the start of this academic year after the move was approved by the Upper House of Parliament in the Netherlands shortly before the summer recess. “We couldn't wait to introduce this here.”
Before you google yet another one of my invented diseases and subsequently begin to question the title of this story, let me tell you this. With a new academic year having begun and a shiny new batch of freshmen accompanying it, the university is full of people suffering from the so-called octopus syndrome.