Combine strengths for a bright future

Be unique and have a good sense of purpose. With this encouragement to staff and students, departing dean Dr. Rob Fastenau ended a seminar including his thrice yearly state of the faculty address at Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EWI).

Fastenau has succeeded in unifying EWI’s three groups by finding and blending their strengths. He summed up his six years as dean at the start of an informal, fun seminar which included live musical intermezzos. He invited four bright young minds to look ahead 30 years and stimulate EWI’s community with an inspiring presentation and illustrate its future potential.

Dr. Cynthia Liem, assistant professor at the Multimedia Computing Group, drew on her activity as a classical pianist to show parallels between artistic and academic life. Playing the piano and using music clips she showed how too much focus on technical virtuosity can stifle nuances of interpretation and creativity. For a bright future she encouraged all to invest in a long term view, keep trying in the face of difficulty and maintain the will to make an impact.

Dr. Wioletta Ruszel, female fellow and assistant professor of applied probability, made a plea to bolster the position of mathematics.
“Maths is the process inside everything,” she said. It needs to be applied to understand the world but also directed upon itself to make new discoveries, while allowing for experiment and failure. In the future we will need it to manage ever growing uncertainty and complexity. She proposed transcending competition and joining forces to form a national centre for applied and fundamental maths research. She also would like to see more popularisation actions to communicate the relevance of maths to society.

Echoing Ruszel, tech entrepeneur Tom Vehoeff also explained how we take for granted the computer science underlying many other disciplines.
“Technology has become a convenience we assume will always work,” he said. “It’s a commodity with no challenges, no magic.”
He underlined the importance of getting youngsters curious about how cool the workings behind our computerised technologies are.

To stimulate post-seminar discussion over drinks, Jörn Zimmerling, PhD researcher at the Microelectronics, Circuits and Systems group, pitched three scenarios to discuss the future of academia as the territories where EWI will have to mark out its bright future. Will a freelance system of academics with research contracted out, a hybrid public-industry model or a fully independent public institution where high risk research can happen, lead to academic utopia or distopia?

Redacteur Redactie

Heb je een vraag of opmerking over dit artikel?


Comments are closed.