The good, bad and ugly

All good things must come to and end, as they say, and hence it’s time for graduating international students to look back nostalgically on their TU careers. So what were the best and worst things about their Delft years?

Being one of the best universities in Europe, Delft University of Technology attracts thousands of students from all around the world – and the numbers of new international students keeps increasing each year. Many factors attract these students to Delft, apart from quests for scientific and technological knowledge, and, as these students bring along with them a wide variety of different cultures, languages and experiences, they also arrive here with varied expectations. 

Juan Leonardo Del Viejo, a soon to graduate student of sustainable energy, admits to being quite impressed with the educational standards at TU Delft, which shaped his choice to come to the Netherlands from Spain. “The best things I liked about my two years in Delft are the quality of education, the amazing people I met and the small power distance with professors,” he says.  

MSc student, Sheng Li, who will soon graduate from EEMCS, was also quite impressed with TU Delft’s reputation in the Netherlands and Europe. And similar thoughts are shared by Chinese student, Danqi Liu, who will graduate this summer from the TPM faculty: “The best thing about TU Delft was the amount of supervision I got from my teachers on my thesis”. 

It is precisely this quality of education available here that brings so many clever and interesting people to Delft. For Indian student, Arvind Jayshankar, who will graduate this year from 3mE faculty, it’s the people here that made his two years so special: “My best experience at TU Delft was shaped by the huge variety of people I got to meet from all around the world”.  

For the Indian student, Anurag Bajpai, who recently graduated from the EEMCS faculty, it was the general atmosphere at the university that made him satisfied with his initial choice to study here. A thought succinctly shared by Iranian TPM student Maryam Halimi: “Overall, I liked the university”. 


But just as every coin has two sides, this story is not quite over yet, as life in Delft for international students also had unpleasant sides. Del Viejo, for example, is admittedly quite a social person, and sometimes he did not find reciprocity in Delft. “Many Dutch people like staying indoors, and then the city feels empty”. 

Li moreover was not very happy with the paucity of female students around campus: “I hated the lack of girls at EEMCS”. While Del Viejo bemoaned the lack of people out and about in the city, Halimi had tough times finding a house to stay in when she first arrived here: “The worst thing was the first month of my life at TU Delft, which was like a nightmare because of no accommodation, due to the fact that on the one hand we were regarded as a family, and the incomplete information about how to use the blackboard on the other.” 

As it was for Halimi, finding the right accommodation seemed to be a major problem and concern for many internationals during their stays. Or, as Jayshankar describes it somewhat snidely: “Worst thing about TU – Duwo”. In a similar vein, while the International Office strives to make every student’s life better, not everyone, like Liu, seems to agree. “The most disappointing thing I came across was from the International Office. They tend to accommodate every student in the same way, and if something goes a bit irregular, they want to change the way you are instead of adjust the way they work in order to make things right for students”. 

Li is similarly critical of the university’s administrative set up: “I dislike the way that TU Delft is unconnected internally, in terms of people, departments and knowledge.” This disconnection could be also seen in the responses of some other students, like Bajpai: “I think the curriculum could have been improved.” 


All things considered, however, most students interviewed for this article seemed to have a positive spirit about overall student life at TU Delft. And now as this graduating batch of students gives way to new ones, the university also seems to be improving their efforts to help the new students ‘find their way’ around. 

A quick scan of the campus reveals the addition of new signboards, which are meant to improve ones navigation on campus. The current students, however, had varied opinions about this, especially based on their past experiences. 

Del Viejo was not happy with the nomenclature of buildings: “The codes of the buildings are really strange and confusing – TNW, TBM, CTI, CIT…. During my first weeks here it was hard to find my way, as it also is for people visiting TU Delft just for conferences. I’d get rid of these initials and just call the buildings, Applied Science, Aerospace, etc.” 

But not everyone shares the same view. Liu likes the new signboards. “I think they make a lot of sense,” she says. “It’s easy to find places on campus now.”  That surely was TU Delft’s intention in putting up new signs, but still, a signboard like the one on the Rotterdamseweg that simply says, ‘All other buildings’, amused many international students, as there are close to one hundred ‘other buildings’ on campus. Bajpai moreover wasn’t impressed with the signs’ aesthetic: “They could’ve chosen a better design and colors”. Meanwhile, one high-tech minded student even suggested that the university develop a smart-phone app to help new student navigate their way around campus.

But for now, it’s ‘ring out the Old, ring in the New’, as the TU Delft story continues. The departing batch of internationals will now strive to make the best use of their acquired knowledge and skills. Wherever they go and whatever they do, these years spent in Delft will mark a very important journey in their lives. Delft will stay here, but TU Delft will travel all over the world with these graduates. Or as Bajpai puts it: “I am now a ‘TU Delft Ambassador’ – for life!” 

“Smaller galaxies combine by colliding. Stars and gas mix in a violent process, creating new stars and adding mass to the black hole in the centre.” Astronomer and physicist Akira Endo describes the processes as if he had witnessed them himself. But in fact, knowledge about the universe at the age of between two and seven billion years old is limited, owing to a lack of satisfactory observations. Dust clouds hide collisions from the view of optical telescopes, while light from the stars heats the dust, causing it to emit sub-millimetre waves. Endo argues that much can be learned from studying this radiation, if that is you are able to measure its wavelength. This is the key to the ‘redshift’ (the Doppler-like frequency shift due to the light source’s velocity) of the radiation, and hence to the age of the observed galaxies. “Current cameras produce number counts of sub-millimetre galaxies”, says Endo. “But they cannot determine the redshifts necessary to convert number counts into a star formation history.”

The reason for this is simply because at present no broadband spectrometer for sub-millimetre radiation exists. Endo has therefore proposed to develop such a spectrometer at the faculty of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with astronomers from Leiden University and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON). The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has funded the project with a grant worth 250,000 euro, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science has contributed another 100,000 euro.

The superconducting detector that Endo plans to develop is called a kinetic inductance detector (or KID) and consists of an antenna and a tuneable microwave resonator. With 10,000 KIDs, each tuned to a subsequent frequency, Endo hopes to analyse the radiation coming from those early galaxies at frequencies ranging from 300 to 1000 gigahertz. By the time this three-year project ends, Endo hopes to have conducted the first measurements himself.

Editor Redactie

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