Free Spirits – Your voice matters

A new think tank on campus has taken on the challenge of renewing the TU Delft mission and vision of on-campus engineering education. Called Free Spirits, the group’s objective is to create a vision for 2030 that meets the demands of the future world of work for TU Delft graduates.

In 2010, Aldert Kamp was tasked with establishing a vision for education within the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (AE). As Director of Education of AE, he soon discovered that TU Delft’s vision on education was focused on the “how” of educating students, and not really the “what” (what is needed) or “why”.

After researching various TU Delft vision and mission related documents, Kamp published his own report titled “Engineering Education in a Rapidly Changing World.” Kamp, who is also Leader of the 3TU Centre for Engineering Education, is now leading the Free Spirits project to make the process a much broader, campus-wide effort.

The Free Spirits think tank, which launched last year, was created as a platform for educational directors, teachers and students to discuss ideas on improving education. Their first meeting was held on January 13, 2015 when participants brainstormed a list of questions to address before change can happen.

Key questions include: Who is our student at TU Delft? What is he/she able to do and what do we teach these students that creates added value when they leave? How do we prepare for a changing world? For what purpose do we educate our students?

Organizers plan a total of five such sessions to be held by early May. In June the results of their efforts will be presented to the Executive Board and the TU Delft community.

In addition to the meetings, Free Spirits has also launched an online platform which gives students and teachers an easy way to share ideas. Dr. Renate Klaassen, Educational Consultant and Coordinator of the Centre for Engineering Education, feels it’s important to get inputs from different stakeholders. “We wondered what would happen if you only keep it at the management level,” she said. “Then everybody in the faculty is not a part of the change process.” Klaassen said they hope this process will inspire people to think about what and how they want to learn.

A statement from the Free Spirits project team emphasizes why they feel this proactive approach is so important: “We have entered an era where our engineering education will have to make significant changes, to take the benefits of the pedagogical and technological innovations, and better prepare graduates for the increasing and different demands of the new world of work. We had better envision these changes and make choices on how to adapt our education than wait for time to pass and then try to respond.”

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