Brainmatters | The next 60 years


Like Niels Bohr said: Predictions are difficult, especially when they concern the future. Fortunately I am in possession of a crystal ball that I have dusted down in honor of this TU/e lustrum, and I am posing the question: What will TU/e look like in 60 years?

It takes a while before the blurry image has become sharp. It begins with a slow fly-over across a sunny, green campus, where fruit trees are blossoming magnificently, and the river Dommel is still meandering slowly through the landscape. What strikes the viewer immediately is the total absence of those hideous car parks full of cars, thanks to the elegant and environmentally-friendly self-moving little vehicles that park themselves outside the campus. Instead I see small groups of students everywhere, sitting down together or walking. Here and there a lecturer can be seen, engaged in an animated discussion with a group of students. Many students seem older than their lecturers. Peripatetic education is the buzzword again, thanks to Plato and ultralight transparent display and communication technology.

Everywhere there are seats, benches, coffee bars and lounge spots that people descend on. Across the whole campus you can see people sporting and playing, while the central axis of the campus consists of a nifty and large-scale day-care center, fully integrated with a high-tech Third Home for the elderly (the ‘grandmothers and grandfathers’, including a sizeable number of former TU/e employees and students and their partners). It is also a living lab for groundbreaking innovations in cross-generational design - a jewel in the crown of the Department of Environment & Design, born from the former Departments of Architecture, Building and Planning and Industrial Design.

Big lecture halls and PowerPoint have been abolished simultaneously

In vain I try to find big lecture halls and examination halls, but I soon gather that they have been abolished, simultaneously with the prohibited further use of PowerPoint. What does stand out: dozens of pop-up labs all over the campus in which students with all kinds of different backgrounds and levels are working on very specific problems night and day. These bubbling intellectual pressure-cookers have resulted in many a small enterprise, which are set up at the same pace as the pizzas are swallowed there; pizzas emerging from the Fab Food Fabricators in unlimited flavor variations.    

Meanwhile preparations for the 120-year lustrum are in full swing. I see a couple of 80-year-old former TU/e students discussing who will be the lucky one to present the very first prototype of the antique Blue Jay drone to the lady director of the Van Abbe museum. Carefully the museum piece is started up. And though there is some dust coming off the rotors, it is still in working order…

Wijnand IJsselsteijn | Professor of Cognition and Affect in Human-Technology Interaction

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