Startup prince Constantijn opens Neuron with a punched card

The opening ceremony of Neuron, which accommodates several educational facilities as well as AI institute EAISI, was carried out yesterday by prince Constantijn with a punched card. It was a reference to the building’s former function as TU/e’s Computer Centre. The ceremony attracted a large audience and the prince said that he expected that the new building will create a cross-fertilization between its users.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

The promotion of a cross-fertilization between students is something the new Bachelor College 2.0 also needs to bring about, dean Ines Lopez Arteaga said. She refers to the new educational model, to be implemented in September, which fosters multidisciplinary collaboration between students in small teams.

Lopez Arteaga took part in a panel discussion yesterday afternoon, together with prince Constantijn – who was invited to inaugurate Neuron in his capacity as special envoy at –, vice-president Nicole Ummelen, and EAISI director Carlo van de Weijer. Ummelen said that Neuron is a perfect example of the wide variety of educational facilities currently to be found at the TU/e campus. “Neuron offers students many places where they can work on solving problems in small teams, according to the principle of Challenge-Based Learning.” The opening of Neuron has also created many new study places as well as lecture halls that can accommodate some sixty to seventy students.

EAISI director Carlo van de Weijer believes that smaller teaching rooms will replace large lecture halls in the future. “I consider them a thing of the past; we’re much better off offering those kinds of large lectures online.”

More independent

The royal guest of honor said that he didn’t know much about training engineers, but he is convinced that an entrepreneurial attitude can be of added value to this group too. “It makes you more independent, and you need to take into account these days that you won’t be working for the same company for a period of twenty years. You will switch jobs and companies several times, and that means, among other things, that you need to know how to sell yourself.”

However, Van de Weijer also expressed his firm support for deep tech and for those graduates whose primary focus lies on this kind of innovation. “These are often the more quiet and introverted persons, of which we have quite a few here. They aren’t the best salespersons and are often at the other side of the spectrum, but they too are badly needed here in the region.”

Vice president Ummelen said that this is reflected in the various student teams at TU/e. “These teams too are always composed of very different types of students from various disciplines.”


The further development of AI and the various tools that will become available to students as a result, raised the question of how we need to prepare students for this and whether we should embrace AI in education.

Van de Weijer believes that it would be a good thing to computerize everything that falls squarely within the rules. “But there should also be room to color outside the lines, albeit within clearly defined ethical boundaries.”

Prince Constantijn said that educational institutions tend to be very successful at keeping innovations at bay, and he cited the continuing practice of large lectures as an example. He believes that it’s time to seriously consider the question of “what do we want to teach students and how do we want to test them?” He referred to, among other things, the sudden rise of ChatGTP and the commotion it caused in academia these past few months. “The main question seems to be: how do we make sure that our students continue to be curious?”

Ummelen said that TU/e most certainly asks itself that question, and added that “we will take into account our students’ input as we develop new techniques for this purpose.”

Then the discussion was over, robot dog Spot scurried over to the podium to deliver a punched card to prince Constantijn. The prince entered it in the card reader that started a video, marking the official opening of Neuron.

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