UFe is an independent organization that was established by the industry – even before Eindhoven had a technical university of applied sciences, precisely to use donation to train engineers.
And that objective is still very much alive, according to director Ton Backx. “Society is in desperate need of engineers who can tackle today’s complex problems such as climate change, housing and environmental pollution.”
Backx has noticed that it can be very difficult for young researchers to become involved in top research at the start of their careers. “That’s because of the way things work in the Netherlands. Writing research proposals costs a lot of valuable time, and only some of the proposals are accepted. This means a lot of capacity goes to waste and it’s difficult for young scientists to get started.” In order to speed up the process leading to top research, UFe is offering a helping hand. “Think of it as a little boost to get the ball rolling”, says Backx.
The UFe foundation works in close collaboration with the TU/e Alumni Office to raise funds for talent development projects, among other things. The money that was collected during the previous lustrum year through the Heroes for Heroes campaign is now being used for current ideas within the faculties themselves.
All nine faculties will receive funding to implement initiatives that cannot be financed in any other way. “The deans told me that 30,000 euros goes a long way to help young researchers get started. Money to purchase equipment for a research facility, money to reimburse travel and accommodation costs for research abroad, money to pay salaries for promising graduates who would otherwise start working in the industry, et cetera.”
Backx agreed with Henk Kivits, president of UFe, that all the faculties could submit a proposal for a concrete talent development plan.
Eight deans were quick to respond to this call; Electrical Engineering has yet to submit its plan. “They were great ideas and we approved all of the proposals.”
Chemical Engineering & Chemistry wants to build a facility that will allow bachelor and master students from all TU/e programs to conduct experimental research in relation to the energy transition. The shopping list includes a small fuel cell (approx. 10,000 euros), a hydrogen storage system (8,000 euros) and a small electrochemical compressor (approx. 12,000 euros). That way, students will be able to work with adequate instruments in the Matrix building.
Industrial Design will spend the funding on a conference that study association Lucid will organize next academic year for students, alumni and people from other educational institutions who are interested. The conference will include workshops, a design contest, and a network meeting to exchange knowledge about design within the context of societal change. The budget of 30.000 euros will be spent, among other things, on renting an inspiring location, such as Evoluon, travel and lunch expenses, and materials for the workshops.
Mechanical Engineering is going to divide the amount equally among four projects. A sum will be allocated for the development of a new method for the production of iron powder, for hydrogen engines and for measurements of the burning rate of an iron dust cloud. In addition, prospective excelling MSc students can apply for a study grant worth up to 5,000 euros from the department board to help cover their living expenses.
Sometimes 30.000 euros is not enough, Backx understands. “But it can serve as a lever to attract other funds. It helps young researchers to get started.”