Getting a solid technical education is why most people come to TU Delft. But one alumnus believes people need to learn more than just science so he started an initiative called "What university does not teach you".
For founder Bart van de Laar, the idea grew out of personal frustration and an attitude learned through years of athletic training. A few years ago, after graduating with a master's in aerospace (2013), he felt dissatisfaction in his life and especially in his career. "I started reading about personal development and realised some people have a special way of approaching what they want to achieve," he said. After putting some of the ideas he learned into action, Van de Laar started feeling more in control of his life.
Van de Laar, who now works at TNO, said he finds importance in knowing what you are doing with your life and why. He started thinking of ways he could help others figure out what they want and how to achieve it. In 2014 he gave his first talk to a small group of students at TU Delft where he shared some practical tools to overcome obstacles. It sparked something and this year he has given a series of talks with hundreds of students in attendance. "I want to instill a paradigm shift for those who think things are impossible," said Van de Laar.
The concept gave rise to another idea of hosting discussion groups that facilitate meaningful and interactive discussions about different topics. They are mainly about societal issues like religion, morality or sexuality. "It is important to give a voice and a platform to people because a lot of cultures, even the engineering culture, restrict expression," said Nitant Shinde, an aerospace master's student who works with Van de Laar on the project. The pair said they have been surprised at how engaged people get during the discussions and that their differing views lead to fruitful conversations. After each discussion group they post a transcript on Facebook to make it available to everyone.
In the coming year Van de Laar hopes to host regular talks and discussion groups every month. They hope to engage more people to represent different views and possibly invite students from other universities. "University produces great engineers, problem solvers, but first you are a human being, a citizen of our global society and then an engineer," said Van de Laar.
For more information on upcoming events visit their Facebook group.