Success stories


TU/e likes to call itself a top university, at least, it does its utmost best to be considered as one. Our students and staff members are expected to show their ‘excellence,’ in both education and research. But what is that we’re really proud of, and do we share our success stories enough?

Scientists came to the conclusion in recent years that it might not be such a good idea to constantly measure each other against the benchmark of a variety of figures of their own design. The latest in a long series of metrics is the so-called Field Weighted Citation Score, which apparently has become very important at TU/e. Mine is around 2, but I have no idea whatsoever whether this is a good score or not.

What matters more, I believe, is the question: ‘What is it that you yourself are proud of?’ That will elicit an entirely different kind of response. The work that makes a scientist most proud usually isn’t the most cited publication, but that one obscure article. Or, in my case, a large collection of datasets I managed to pry out of companies. If you too would like to share data publicly, send me an email!

Academia also makes uses of lists with figures to measure success in education. Rankings, both national and international, apparently are an indication of a program’s quality compared to similar programs. Here too, it’s likely that lecturers and program directors are proud of entirely different matters, for example when a first year ran smoothly despite serious capacity problems, or when student evaluations for a basic course are consistently positive.

Recently, TU/e’s master’s program Industrial and Applied Mathematics was awarded the prestigious UPS George D. Smith Prize. The program director proudly accepted the award and the entire department took part in the festivities with a particularly tasty cream cake.

I think that it’s unlikely that anyone outside the TU/e community took any notice. Other universities would undoubtedly have celebrated this achievement in style, but TU/e decided to limit the festivities to that cream cake and a statement from the Executive Board, under point 6 in an email, mind you.

TU/e should make a much greater effort to share success stories. Show the world what it is that students and staff members are proud of and shout it from the rooftops. And don’t wait until after that successful scientist made a transfer to an institute abroad.

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