BFF | Croquettes
The slogan on the goody bag we received during the visit of the open day in 1992 read ‘TU Eindhoven; the best house for technical top talent’ (for the actual Dutch slogan see the Dutch version of this column). My little sister took a marker and changed this into ‘MADhouse’. She meant this - I hope - in a funny, loving manner towards bèta-nerds. My sister is smart, but I do not think she had the foresight to imply the alfa-hell that in the meantime has gotten a hold of many universities and that also frequently knocks at the door of the TU/e.
Common sense is a typical characteristic of an engineer. And that makes sense; a bridge needs to be robust and have a long life time and a combustion engine should not get overheated. In that respect engineers look a lot like people with a practical profession. My grandfather, a baker, also excelled in common sense and summarized this as such: “When the people want croquettes, don’t try to sell fancy steaks”.
Unfortunately, common sense (i.e. the silent majority) currently loses out. Functionaries are following those that, unhindered by common sense and knowledge, promise everyone free (vegan) succulent steaks. Solution-oriented thinking and actions (after weighing all pro’s en con’s) has given way to perception and emotion guided steering by (a)social media junkies.
Common sense tells us that (notwithstanding their deficits) without big companies there will not be a reliable energy supply nor a strong basis for our pensions (ABP please note!). The same holds for the development of novel medicines. There are academics and functionaries that think that open science and subsidies are the central key to efficient and cheap medicines and vaccines. Or there are those that push the narrative that with only wind and sun, and without Shell and co., the Dutch energy needs will soon be covered. And that all of this will be made possible by not selecting people based on competence and experience, but on the basis of diversity, inclusion, equity principles. This all will not work without the expertise, experience, speed, capital, dedication, and focus of industry.
Illustrative for this all is the small daily annoyance that, in contrast to 1992, the food courts at the TU/e do not sell croquettes anymore, but vegan warps instead. No wonder, for those with common sense, that catering sales are low. My grandfather would have known what to do. He would have positioned himself on the campus with a mobile chip shop - or just outside the campus, in conjunction with the smoking outlaws and he would even have installed an ashtray for a more proper appearance of the TU/e - to serve students and employees that like croquettes, without ideology and subsidy.
Therefore, aspiring engineer, remember that you probably belong to the silent majority who would not mind doing an internship at a large company, who thinks those Extinction Rebellion people to be un poco loco, who prefers coffee from a normal cup instead from a Billie, who scratches one's head regarding the concept that burning trees is climate neutral, who finds it wrong to reduce people to their identity, or who occasionally simply likes a croquette (with or without meat).
BFF | Bald, Frizzy or Flowing is a joint initiative of Willem Mulder (Bald), Monique Bruining (Frizzy) and Luc Brunsveld (Flowing), that they started at the beginning of 2023 on the site of Cursor.