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The new engineer is about to arrive

The new engineer is about to arrive

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

FSE bursting with plans for the future

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) wants to train a new kind of engineer. One who doesn't necessarily design the best product at the drawing table, but does take the footprint of things into account. This is the idea behind Circular Engineering, just one of the new study programmes that the faculty is planning.

Cutting back and expanding can go well together, as the Faculty of Science and Engineering proves. The science faculty in the making is looking elsewhere for accommodation for its institutes (School of Governance, ICIS) and possibly its study programmes (UCM, UCV) that don't necessarily fit in the field of science. At the same time, an actual list of bachelor's and master's programmes to be introduced in the coming years is being circulated.

“These are ambitions, not facts that have already been decided,” says dean Thomas Cleij. “And everything still needs to be put before the national accreditation bodies as well as the local committees. But indeed, we aim for a major expansion of the education programme that we offer.” Our wish list includes the bachelor's programmes of Circular Engineering, Medical Engineering and Design, and the master's of Sustainable Manufacturing.

In the light of the recently chosen name of FSE, the S for science has received all our attention the past few years, says Cleij. A Science Programme has been set up, as well as institutes and master's programmes in the field of Systems Biology (together with MaCSBio) and Biomaterials (with AMIBM).

“It is now time for the E for engineering. We want to train a new type of engineer, one who is not schooled in just one field, such as electrical engineering, but who looks across the boundaries with other disciplines. Someone who will have a broader vocabulary, who speaks the language of the government, the wider public, nature organisations and other interest groups. Someone who has a feeling for political and social relations.”

The classical engineer is tied to the drawing table and has been trained to create the best possible product, says Cleij. “The new circular engineer realises that products have an origin and a destination, with a related footprint. The product may not always be technically the best, but it is sustainable and easy to recycle. Such demands from society are more important these days than the technology.”

Are the differences between the classical and the new engineer so black-and-white? “It is more black-and-white than you would think. We still have a huge step to take. But both study programmes can co-exist very well, just like the traditional science curricula and the Maastricht Science Programme.”

At the same time, the new programme doesn't come under the category of Liberal Arts. “It does have a Maastricht signature: small-scale, student-centred and with a lot of choice. But we want to create a distinct profile for ourselves as having a science curriculum. Students need to be good in mathematics and already have the necessary science knowledge.”

The importance of a strong profile became clear last year when FSE and the School of Business and Economics withdrew their application for the joint bachelor's of Business Engineering. Accreditation organisation NVAO reckoned that, “it was too much of a mix of everything. The emphasis of the new application is more on science. If NVAO manages to visit us soon and give us the go-ahead, the bachelor's can start in September.”

The idea of circular engineering is unique and comes from Cleij himself. “I expect a lot from it, also because the time is ripe for it. Ten years ago, this wasn't an issue yet. The same applies to the new research field of Sensor Engineering, which stems from the need for rapid measuring. In the field of medicine, nutrition or the environment we increasingly want to know quickly what the current state of affairs is. Whether it concerns blood sugar levels, infections or pregnancy. Biological sensors play a crucial role: handy measuring devices that provide a definite answer on the basis of a drop of blood or a sample. In the future, such devices can be linked to your smartphone through Bluetooth and the results will appear on your display.”

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