Bachelor Year 1 – Propedeutic Phase
A large part of the first year is pre-defined with little wiggle room available to its students. I was glad about that, as I had no idea how I wanted to develop myself as an Industrial Designer. I would say that this year had orientation as a main activity. By following introductory courses (such as From Idea To Design) that were based on the Reflective Transformative Design Process , I was introduced to the field of Industrial Design little by little. The results of these projects can be seen in my portfolio. After these preparatory courses, I managed to start with the development in a few competency areas, marking my readiness for Project 1.
A course that sparked my interest in the first year was ‘User-Centred Design’ by J. Terken. This was my first real introduction to Human-Centred Design, a term that was coined by a huge inspiration, Donald Norman . During the course, I was not happy with the end results of the group’s project, which made it key for me to grab the course by its horns and learn as much as I could from that experience, as well as from the course itself. Mainly due to this course, I chose to follow the USE-line ‘Human In Technology’, a series of courses focused on Human-Centred Design and the psychology behind it.
The small ‘wiggle room’ in the propedeutic phase was mainly used to improve my competencies in Creativity and Aesthetics. By following the course ‘Exploratory Sketching’, I learned key skills in communicating ideas, one of the pillars of a design process. If I would not be able to explain my design clearly, miscommunications are certainly around the corner. A course that successfully connected with this thought, was ‘Visual Experience Design’, a course given by guest-lecturer Remco van de Craats, founder of institutes Edhv and Dutch Invertuals. During this course, I gained many skills within Creativity & Aesthetics that I still use to this day, even outside of my academic career.
Project 1 could be seen as the real start of my career as an Industrial Designer, where I worked on ‘Somnus’. This project helped me to gain knowledge in ‘Technology & Realisation’, as well as ‘Creativity & Aesthetics’, as the installation had to seem friendly and accommodating whilst it contained several forms of electronics. Furthermore, this experience was valuable in terms of leadership & teamwork, which made me realise at an early stage that this is a skill I have talent for. This was a large first step as a first-year Industrial Design-student, as I was thrown into the deep for both competency areas. In the end, the result was extremely satisfactory, with already having used skills from courses in the previous quartiles.
Bachelor Year 2 – Research and deepening knowledge
My second year could have the competency area ‘User and Society’ as its motto. My USE-line ‘Human in Technology’ started and sparked my interest in the underlaying psychology of Industrial Design. With great joy, I followed all courses, resulting in a few research projects in office ergonomics, as well as analysing User-Centred improvements in language-learning for refugees; a completely different but interesting aspect of User-Centred Design.
Another motto one could apply to this year was ‘Research’. Many activities in this year were based on research. Wether it was literature or user-testing. As mentioned above, research was definitely a key element of my USE-line. Especially for the language-learning project, where we did desk research, but also held qualitative interviews with organisations such as Werkvloertaal (Helmond) and did user-testing of their current systems, in order to design an improved system. Evaluating whether the solutions are feasible, the competency of Business & Entrepreneurship show stark improvements. See ‘portfolio’ for results.
In projects 2 and 3, I learned in-depth how to conduct user-testing and use psychological trials to assess a user’s state of mind (such as the Stroop test ). Furthermore, I further explored the RTDP framework and got the opportunity to work on my competency areas. In Project 2, Technology & Realisation took the lead by being the main responsible for building the prototype, as well as researching technology to make the concept feasible. My Creativity & Aesthetics competency saw stark improvements in project 3, as it was in the Crafting Everyday Soft Things squad. The territory of this squad was completely unchartered territory for me, but has greatly improved my skills in this.
Furthermore, the second semester of Year 2 provided the preparatory course ‘Design <> Research’, Project 3: Design Research and Making Sense of Sensors, where the competency ‘Math, Data & Computing’ shone through, together with ‘User and Society’. In both the courses as well as the project, it was vital to process data, talk to users and use iterations of a prototype to do research.
Bachelor Year 3 – An international event, Bachelor College courses and Graduation
In the first quartile of my third year, I had the option to go on an internship or abroad. However, I chose to stay at the TU/e and maintain aspirations to go on an internship or abroad in my master’s. The reason I did this will become clear under the subheading ‘Extracurricular’. During this quartile, I followed courses at other faculties, to broaden my knowledge and further improve upon my competency areas. This I found particularly crucial, as I felt that the TU/e had much more to offer than I experienced so far. By following the course ‘Introduction to Psychology & Technology’, I gained a great deal of insight into the science behind Computer-Human Interaction (CHI). Although this was only an introduction and not deepening, it made way for insights and using psychology as an inspiration for future projects and interactive prototypes. Although I find it difficult to place this course into one competency area, I feel like it relates the closest to ‘User and Society’.
Next to that, following a course ‘Technology Entrepeneurship’ gave an extraordinary boost to the competency ‘Business and Entrepeneurship’. Through hands-on projects, concrete examples and guest lectures, it became an enriching experience to mock the idea development within a start-up. By extensive literature and themed lectures, I gained a lot of knowledge that I was able to implement in a business I started, as well as future projects.
The course ‘Interactive Intelligent Products’ built further upon my explorations in the competency ‘Math, Data and Computing’, as it dealt with the construction and development of machine-learning. In the course, I received the resources, knowledge and opportunity of hands-on prototyping and development to build a machine-learning system. This was one of the most educative experiences, as this field of technology was completely unknown territory for me.
In the beginning of my third year, I had the option to go on an internship or abroad. However, I chose to stay at the TU/e and maintain aspirations to go on an internship or abroad in my master’s. The reason I did this, is because in this quartile a large-scale event would take place that I had been organising for about two years beforehand. This was Rotterdam 2018 – the 88th International Session of the European Youth Parliament. I have been a volunteer for the European Youth Parliament (EYP) since 2015, a debating organisation across the continent that allows young adults to debate, discover Europe and improve professional skills. The event took place in October 2018, where 300 people from all over Europe came together to debate about global issues and engage socially/culturally. I was on the Core Team of the organisation of the event. As the EYP is a non-profit organisation, the entire event had to be fundraised. To do this, we managed to raise 200,000 euros to organise this 11-day conference for all 300 participants.
Later this year, I also took a seat as EYP The Netherlands’ Secretary of the Board in the board-term of 2019-2020. I manage day-to-day tasks and oversee the organisation of multiple conferences in The Netherlands, as well as take care of our foundation’s policies and the upholding of our mission statement.
Furthermore, I joined the TU/e innovation Space. Currently, I take care of their graphical output, community management and give advice to student teams about design and User-Centred Design. Working in such a professional environment allows me to further build upon my professional skills; learning from experienced co-workers and developing competency areas such as ‘Business and Entrepeneurship’ by working closely with their educational programme and ‘Creativity and Aesthetics’ as my main task: To develop clear information and communication to the diverse array of target group the innovation Space has.
Lastly, I graduated from Industrial Design with my Final Bachelor Project OPWIS, which resulted in a 9.0/10.0 grading. Through extensive field and desk research, I discovered that travellers on the Dutch railway network are often disoriented and lost when disembarking a train. They are aware of which station they are in, but not exactly where in that station. More importantly; the user is unaware of where they should go next. The lack of this knowledge often leads to the user trying to find the necessary information, which then could lead to them missing a train connection. OPWIS (Onboard Preparatory Wayfinding Information System) is a transparent display embedded into a train door’s window. During the journey, the display is turned off and functions just like a regular window. However, just before arrival at the station, this display shows routes through the station and real time travel information. This way, the user is trained to memorise a certain path to the transfer they are looking for, moments before actually having to wolk that path. As soon as the train doors open, the user knows what direction they need to go.
 Hummels, Caroline, and Joep Frens. "The reflective transformative design process." CHI'09 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2009.
 Norman, Donald A. The psychology of everyday things. Vol. 5. New York: Basic books, 1988.
 MacLeod, Colin M. "Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: an integrative review." Psychological bulletin 109.2 (1991): 163.