Tom Cobbenhagen

A business card and portfolio

Hey there.

I’man industrial entrepreneur.a manager of a inventor.a filmmaker.a geek.

I specialise in user-centred design and iterative design processes.

I am passionate about entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation.



Involving users in the iterative design process to ensure an intuitive solution with a high level of usability.


Always seeing business development opportunities and grasping it by the horns.


Being a creative individual who is not limited to graphical work and aesthetics, but also in decision making and finding solutions.


Being an active leader, managing all processes, without resorting to micromanaging.







Machine learning wastebin

Machine learning wastebin

Rotterdam 2018

Rotterdam 2018

Designing for a ritual

Designing for a ritual

Aesthetics of Interaction

Aesthetics of Interaction

Personalised Learning

Personalised Learning

Embodied Social Interaction

Embodied Social Interaction

Clue Clock

Clue Clock





SensUs promotional video

SensUs promotional video



Conduct 2016

Conduct 2016

The Past

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 [1], 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 [2]. 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 [3]). 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

Bachelor College

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.


[1] Hummels, Caroline, and Joep Frens. "The reflective transformative design process." CHI'09 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2009.

[2] Norman, Donald A. The psychology of everyday things. Vol. 5. New York: Basic books, 1988.

[3] MacLeod, Colin M. "Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: an integrative review." Psychological bulletin 109.2 (1991): 163.

The DLE Track

(Last updated: March 29th, 2020)

I am currently taking part in the Design Leadership and Entrepreneurship (DLE) track of the Department of Industrial Design. My motivation for becoming part of the DLE track runs deep due to my identity as a designer and has been something I have been working towards since my second year.

In the DLE-track, I am looking to sharpen my skills and intuition within Entrepreneurship and being able to differentiate, explain and take on different profiles within Design Leadership and Entrepreneurship. As both design and leadership are an extremely wide array of interpretations, I find it important to explore these different types and evaluate which type is most in line with my intended development.

Even though my interest in DLE started quite early, I wanted to make sure that this was the correct track for me to follow. Whilst I was exploring the different tracks in the ID master in the past semester, I followed the course Creating Corporate Entrepreneurship and this course confirmed my suspicions that the DLE-track would definitely be the best fit for my development as an Industrial Designer. It especially links greatly with my existing identity with an entrepreneurial mindset, my current positions and my aspirations for Innovation Management.

Reflecting on what I learned

At the end of the course, I sat down and reflected on what I had learned whilst doing these assignments. In some areas, I had confirmation. I was certain beforehand that I was a certain type of leader or entrepreneur. But for some assignments, I noticed that it was definitely not as black and white as I thought and that some characteristics overlap with each other, forming a collection of characteristics that I can apply in different situations. In the short-term, I want to practice this new knowledge and be able to reflect on it in the long term. Next to that, I want to do further research into some types of leadership, to see if I am able to take on such a role as well. All of this with the final goal of becoming a multifaceted entrepreneur that can apply different leadership styles to different situations.

Public, Social and Private Commercial Leadership

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it had not yet been possible to round of session 2 when the third assignment started. When continuing onto the assignment for session 3, I had much more insight in how I could lead. I recently became the chairman of a non-profit organisation and these types of organisation may tend to have a social leader, but when I dove deeper into these types of leadership, I recognised that I am actually more a private leader. This could be an interesting way of guiding this organisation and am looking forward to reflecting upon my leadership further in my mandate as the chairman. I used the digital session to reflect further on what I have found and learned from others as to how they constructed their definitions and got a much deeper understanding of the field..

Transformative, Transitional and Transformational Leadership

It was quite difficult for me to find the very fine differences between these types of leadership. When I found the right sources where a debate was being held about what these differences may be, I found the real stark differences and was then able to identify myself with how I give lead. It was still slightly difficult as, much the same with intra/entrepreneurs, it is not easy to put these types on a map and pin yourself on the map. However, when looking at the characteristics of certain types of leadership I found out that I apply a certain type of leadership to a different situation, as each situation asks for a different leader. I am looking forward to have discussions and debates during the next session to grasp an even more all-encompassing view about the concepts.

Intrapreneur or Entrepreneur?

Where I see myself now is closer to the entrepreneurial side and less to the intrapreneurial side, which is where I want to stay to develop and sharpen my skills. As I have been involved in setting up my own companies as well as being involved in an organisation that helps start-ups, I have some good insight into risks and am willing to take them. This also came to light when taking on large-scale project management for the European Youth Parliament, where everything is based on voluntary work and fundraising, introducing a lot of risk. Next to that, I have a lot of experience in team leadership, project management and have an entrepreneurial mindset. I would like to improve, sharpen and deepen my skills on this spot of the canvas. During the first session, I was exposed to many different interpretations of both words and found out that I may sometimes be an intrapreneur, more than I would expect. I saw both terms as very stark contrasting ways of thinking, while afterwards I now don’t see it as black and white. It is more or less how one defines themselves, containing both intra- and entrepreneurial assets and characteristics.

My Goals

At the end of the DLE track, I want to have a clear view of my career plan after my studies. At the moment, I am still looking into studying Innovation Management in either Eindhoven or Rotterdam and I want the DLE-track to be a good foundation for me to pursue such a degree.

After this, I would want to be able to recognise myself as a certain type of Leader, Entrepreneur and Designer within. This to be able to build a strong identity of what kind of designer and entrepreneur I would be in my career.

During the track, I want to expose myself to the different types of design leadership by attempting to applying these types of management in current projects. Afterwards, I would want to evaluate how this worked and whether this is a type of design leadership that suits my personal identity and vision.

Whilst in the track, I want to stop and reflect several times to see my personal growth. Creating this PDP is a very crucial part in this process. During the track, I want to evaluate whether my current goals, vision and identity have changed and change my goals accordingly. At the end, I want to be able to reflect on those changes and be able to define the type of design leadership and entrepreneurship I associate myself with.


Research Project

I am currently looking into discovering a direction of research for the interactions between users and large MaaS platforms; how a user may express their current needs, combining them with other factors to be able to give tailored multi-modal trip plans, that include public transport, car/bike/scootersharing and taxi services.

The Future

After my journey as an Industrial Design Master, I plan to follow ‘Innovation Management’ at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. The reason for it being a different educational institution is because of the different focus. The educational content has a business-management background rather than a technical one. I think this would allow me to flourish even further in the field, as I would be able to identify myself with both backgrounds; being the Pi-shaped engineer in business and in Industrial Design.

Concluding my education-career, I aspire a management/leadership function in a technological development firm. I see people such as David Kelley as a huge source of inspiration, looking at their contributions to the field and style of innovation development and management. By getting the industry’s knowledge in my bachelor’s degree and Industrial Design Leadership & Entrepeneurship as well as Innovation Management in my master’s degree, I would be well prepared to take on such a role.

Intuitive, rich-interaction and smart products in a completely digital world.


Design of Systems and Products

It’s hard to keep up; society is rapidly changing. Everything is becoming digital and connected to the internet. We speak of the “Digital Society”, but this phrasing would make it look like our society has came to be, only due to the developments of technology [1]. Would we want to define our society as such? I think it is inevitable, as the developments of technology do certainly have a long-lasting and positive impact on the world and continue to make us interact in many different ways. We also call ourselves ‘digital natives’, share everything on social media and look at our smartphones more than we look in the mirror. We have become hugely dependent on our smart phones [2] for entertainment, information provision as well as for social media.The increased usage of the smartphone has had many positive effects on us; we are able to stay in touch 24/7, we have the entire internet in our pocket and they make great moment-capturing devices. However, they do show a clear link with increased stress levels [3].

This is where I feel that devices such as the mobile phone are in a huge grey area. We have become so reliant on devices to present us with information through a small display, and we use it to interact with people around us too. I feel that there is a tendency for designers to be lazy. Many solutions to everyday problems end up being a mobile application, whilst the idea of such a solution could also be implemented in a rich interactive product. Many great solutions go lost in a simple form of UI design, hidden in an app store with billions of other apps.

The power of Industrial Design is that we devise systems and products that are intuitive to use; that engage you, that give you feedback or feedforward. Systems and products that do not use your full attention, but can give you information through your peripheral senses. My vision as a designer is to refrain from solutions ending up in simple forms of UI-design, but by developing smart ways of replacing the functions that a mobile phone have taken over. Instead of having our main focus on our device for entertainment or information, we should have multiple ways of getting to that information, without that process taking up all of our attention.


The power of Industrial Design is that we devise systems and products that are intuitive to use; that engage you, that give you feedback or feedforward. I believe that the same kind of thinking that we use in these design processes can definitely be benificial in the management of companies, even if they are not involved in Design.

By regarding the company as such a system or product, I believe it is possible to apply certain frameworks [4] that we use in design to iteratively improve the processes of the company itself, its hierarchy or even it’s work-ethic.



I have always had an intrinsic curiosity to explore. Whether it was to see the world, or by taking apart almost all electronic devices to see how they work inside. Next to that, I have always been a creative individual; from a young age I was already building websites, or simply solving everyday problems in creative ways. All of this, paired with a passion for technology and innovation, was the reason why I also chose to become an Industrial Designer.

User-Centred Design is a large aspect of my identity; in all concepts and ideas, I aim to include the user as much as possible. Paired with my vision, this an important aspect, as intuitively relates closely to usability, which is defined by the user. Through iterative design processes, such as the Reflective Transformative Design Process [4] or the Double Diamond process [5], I aspire to develop concepts which are intuitive and enriching to use.

I flourish as a team leader; not only in my studies, but also in professional circumstances I am comfortable and capable with taking the lead in the process. Managing tasks, managing team morale and taking on the responsibility are roles that I assign to naturally, which is why I aspire a master’s degree in Innovation Management, too.

I have an entrepreneurial mindset. I always seek new opportunities and challenges to be able to reach my goals. I hold a position in several different types of organisations where I can use as well as develop all of my professional skills. I work at the TU/e innovation Space in Resource Management, working as a glue between departments to make things possible. In this environment, I learn a lot from co-workers, who work daily in coaching and helping to develop student teams, startups and other entrepreneurial ventures. I have noticed that this is quite a large source of inspiration for different management styles and setting strategic goals.

Next to that, I am a secretary for a non-profit foundation (European Youth Parliament The Netherlands) which helped me develop my team leading skills, project management as well as cooperation, communication and strategy skills, as I am responsible for the upholding and development of the foundation’s mission statement, as well as overseeing multiple conferences happening throughout the year.

I am currently in the process of applying to become the president of the European Youth Parliament in the Netherlands. The reason for that is that I want to take more responsibility in the structural development of the organisation and coordinate its growth.


[1] Martin, Allan. "Digital literacy and the “digital society”." Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices 30 (2008): 151-176.

[2] Ahn, Juyeon, and Yoonhyuk Jung. "The common sense of dependence on smartphone: A comparison between digital natives and digital immigrants." New Media & Society 18.7 (2016): 1236-1256.

[3] Vahedi, Zahra, and Alyssa Saiphoo. "The association between smartphone use, stress, and anxiety: A meta‐analytic review." Stress and Health 34.3 (2018): 347-358.

[4] Hummels, Caroline, and Joep Frens. "The reflective transformative design process." CHI'09 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2009.

[5] Nessler, Dan, and Dan Nessler. “How to Apply a Design Thinking, HCD, UX or Any Creative Process from Scratch.” Medium, Digital Experience Design, 19 May 2016,


Tom Cobbenhagen

Tom Cobbenhagen

084 884 0804

innovation Space 1.350, Groene Loper 10, Eindhoven





Master Industrial Design


Focusing on Design Leadership and Entrepreneurship.


Bachelor Industrial Design


Currently focused on Human-Centred Design and intuitive user experiences. My Final Bachelor Project is in cooperation with the Dutch Railway (NS).


English Language and Literature – Higher Level (HL)

International Baccalaureate

Bilingual Education (TTO) on VWO (Dutch University Preparatory Education)


Graduated in bilingual education (NL/EN) within the Dutch curriculum profile of N&T (Nature and Technology). Courses included in the profile where physics, chemistry, calculus, advanced mathematics, business management, European & international studies, Culture and art development, Science for public understanding as well as German.



President of the Board


I took a seat in the 2020-2021 board of Stichting Europees Jeugdparlement Nederland as the president of the foundation. I am responsible for the organisation’s strategic development and representing the organisation internationally to develop continent-wide policies and strategies for the entire European Youth Parliament network.


Secretary of the Board


I took a seat in the 2019-2020 board of Stichting Europees Jeugdparlement Nederland as the secretary of the foundation. I was responsible for overseeing the management of multiple conferences, the foundation’s data administration, school recruitment and volunteer management.


Student Assistant – Resources Cluster


The TU/e innovation Space is a community and facility that supports interdisciplinary hands-on education, engineering design and entrepreneurship. At this institute, I am responsible for a majority of its graphic formgiving and hands-on technical development on-site.


Chief Media


I was the leader of a small team of ~10 people responsible for all the photographic content of the magazine. The UNiD magazine is released thrice a year, containing time-pieces about industrial design. Over the last few years, the magazine has featured interviews with remarkable people such as Donald Norman (author of Design of Everyday Things), Jamie Hyneman (Mythbusters) and Kevin Kelly (founder of WIRED magazine).


Project Manager


Project Manager for two years for the 88th International Conference of the European Youth Parliament that took place in Rotterdam in October 2018. The event hosted 300 participants from all over Europe that discussed issues and matters on a European and global level. This event was of high standing and supported by people such as Philips CEO Frans van Houten, former Prime-Minster Jan Peter Balkenende and many more.




A filmmaking business I started with two like-minded peers. During our teamwork we have worked with several organisations at the Eindhoven University of Technology, such as the Department of Industrial Design, Team FAST, Plugged Festival, Study Association CHEOPS and Study Association Lucid. The business later split up into two separate companies, one focusing on filmmaking and the other, my latest venture (KEI Creatief) on design.




Tom is a very pragmatic, efficient, and professional worker. He makes sure that he is able to do his work in a structured and well thought through way. He is also very strong at helping others and cooperating in teams. Tom makes sure his opinion is heard and he is not shy to reach out when he wants to implement changes or when he believes he can be of assistance. Tom has a practical view on problems and decisions, which makes him a very valuable asset when it comes to group work.



Tom delivers. And no matter what you would ask him to deliver, it will be of high quality. Often seen with a camera in his hand, he is used to looking at things from a different perspective and analysing what aesthetics means. This thirst for design is possibly only surpassed by his hunger for technology.


If you want to learn more, see my recommendations or connect with me, head over to my LinkedIn profile!