Looking back at 15 years of innovations

Located behind the Civil Engineering Building, the D:Dream Hall has served as a base for some of the most exciting student projects on the TU Delft campus. This year, it’s celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The hall has come a long way since its somewhat humble beginnings. In 2000, two student groups were looking for a space to work on their projects. That’s when Dr. Wim Thijs stepped in and found a spot for them in the basement of the Mechanical Engineering department. As the now retired professor explained to Delta writer Saskia Bonger during an interview [] last summer, “it was a half legal place” and by no means ideal.

After contacting the director of Facility Management, Dr. Thijs managed to locate a larger facility for the students in Stevin Hall, which was then slated for demolition. With no budget and limited resources at their disposal, they managed to turn the dilapidated hall into something truly wonderful.

The D:Dream Hall is now the home of the Delta Lloyd Solar Boat crew and the Nuon Solar Team, the latter of which won the 2015 World Solar Challenge in Australia in October. Some of the more cutting-edge projects currently in development include a mechanical exoskeleton that may one day assist the disabled and the Interact Rover, and a robotic car with mechanical arms that was ‘test driven’ by Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen all the way from the International Space Station last September.

Projects like these have drawn the attention of outside sponsors and politicians alike. In 2013, Henk Kamp, Minister of Economic Affairs, and Undersecretary Sander Dekker from the Ministry of Education, Culture and

Science toured the hall before announcing an increase in government funds for research.

One of the things that makes the D:Dream Hall truly unique is, first and foremost, that it’s a student organisation with limited oversight from professors. As Dr. Thijs explained: “The hall is unique in the world. Toronto and Michigan have one comparable, only much smaller. At other universities, students get course credit for such projects and teachers get involved. That doesn’t work. We make sure the students are the owners of their own project and remain so.”

An extensive history of the hall was assembled by authors Eric Wood and Ron Labordus. Titled ‘From Daydream to D: DREAM’, it chronicles many of the facility’s projects and includes photographs and interviews with current and former students.

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