Saying goodbye at PSV after nearly 50 years of employment at TU/e
Built Environment employee Rien Canters didn’t celebrate his retirement on the campus yesterday, but in the PSV stadium on Frederiklaan 10A. Here, at the club where he once played in the second team, he was treated to a farewell reception, after he was picked up by the PSV bus in front of Vertigo. He would have celebrated his fiftieth anniversary at TU/e on December 1. That most likely makes him the longest serving employee in the history of the university.
There’s a picture with a caption below in the December ’81 issue of TH-berichten – Cursor’s paper forerunner – that proves that Rien Canters isn’t just a supporter, but quite a skilled soccer player as well in his younger days. He and his teammates, all of whom were staff members, won that season’s indoor soccer first league championship with their team Los Toros. They did so without having lost a single match and with thirty goals scored and only nine conceded. But before he exceled indoors with Los Toros, he had played as a striker in PSV’s second team, where he claimed to have trained with, among others, club icon Willy van der Kuijlen.
When he posed for that picture in TH-berichten, Rien had been an employee at the Eindhoven Technical College, as TU/e was known back then, for ten years already. He started on 1 December 1971, aged sixteen, at the department of the Built Environment as a staff member at the company engineer’s office. There, he was in charge of repro activities, office and drawing materials and, during symposiums, audiovisual equipment. In 1984, he became staff member educational facilities responsible for audiotapes catalogues, ordering furniture, and organizing internal relocation and issuing keys. In addition, he managed all video, film and photo equipment and provided students with advice on this equipment.
Rien was asked to spend part of his time working in the student workplace. He made sure that everything was neat and tidy and had a natural authority over students, his colleagues say. Students who repeatedly failed to properly stall their bicycles, would sometimes find their bicycles upside down in a toilet bowl, a colleague says.
Rien eventually makes a switch to the Structural Engineering and Design (SED) lab, where he spent the last twenty years. In a speech, former colleague Hans refers to Rien as a rascal “who wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Rien is thought of as a true professional who knows everything there is to know about mortar and concrete. He learned how to lay bricks and plaster from daily practice. That is why colleagues would sometimes ask him to do chores at their homes. But he has also proven himself to be a fine academic bricklayer at Built Environment. For that, he receives high praise by dean Theo Salet in the PSV stadium.
One of Rien’s important contributions involves the Perinsul measure program from 2016. For that project, he had to build forty small walls with six different types of bricks using two types of masonry mortar combined with Perinsul (foam glass with bitumen coating). And all this according to a tight time schedule, a job that takes a lot of physical effort. The result of this test has a major influence on the final result of the research, obviously. Client Pittsburgh Corning Europe was so satisfied with the test results, that further research will follow. Rien himself is most satisfied with the assignment for which he had to do brickwork on bridges.
Yesterday it was time to finally say goodbye to the campus. And the department didn’t want to let that moment pass unnoticed. Rien and his wife and two children were picked up in front of Vertigo by the PSV bus, which visibly surprised him, and brought to the PSV stadium where a reception had been organized in his honor. There was a PSV shirt waiting for him in the locker room with the number 9 and his name on it, and dean Salet presented him with TU/e’s honorary medal on behalf of the university. “We are going to miss Rien’s dedication and good spirits,” Salet said. “And of course all the socializing he liked to with everyone. We need to continue with that, because if we do longer socialize at Built Environment, we should call it quits.”
Outside, next to the hallowed ground of PSV’s soccer pitch – stepping onto it would lead to a stadium ban for life and a 10,000 euro fine, the club’s host says – a toast was made in honor of the in all probability longest serving TU/e employee in the university’s history: 49 years and 8 months to be exact. He would have liked to stay on a bit longer, but the rules obliged him to say goodbye to the institution where he spent his entire professional life just shy of fifty years.