TU international student awarded fellowship

Flora Poppelaars, a fifth-year student in Integrated Product Design, started a fellowship that was awarded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation this month.

The Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowshipwas awarded to eleven business, design, and engineering graduate students from around the world to support student projects that develop and implement the concept of the circular economy in society.

A circular economy is the management of recyclable biological and technological resources. There are a few schools of thought on the matter, but the architect Walter R. Stahil pegged the term “cradle to cradle” to illustrate the idea. Something, once created or manufactured, must remain usable at a high-quality for the next person, according to the philosophy.  

The weeklong summer school, which started on June 18th in London, initiated the students into the program and solidified the network. Poppelaars attended the conference with her fellowship tutor, Dr. David Peck, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft. Dr. Peck will also be her master’s project mentor for the duration of this year.

“Throughout the project, we will get support using an online platform where all the participants are enabled to share information, interesting papers or thoughts, and discuss our project,“ Poppelaars wrote in an email.

Both Poppelaars and Peck received separate awards, worth £14,000 (€17,500) for the duration of the project, at the end of which Poppelaars will have finished her master’s degree. The award value includes the all-expense paid trip to the summer school, a cash reward, and online resources.

“I’m now shaping the scope of my project but it will most probably focus on the design for disassembly in order to facilitate different loops (such as maintain, refurbish, etc.),” Poppelaars says.

A high-profile consortium of multi-national companies who ascribe to circular economy ideals, the CE100, met for the first time at the Royal Society in London, during the summer school session. Poppelaars and Peck attended. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, was its keynote speaker.

Other recipients of the grant come from the fellowship’s partner universities, among which are Stanford and Yale universities, Politecnico di Milano, and TU Delft.

Citing her upbringing in France, the Franco-Dutch Poppelaars finds a pattern in the international academic programs she chooses. “I’m not really doing it on purpose, it’s just that I really love such environments, meeting new people, getting new insights, seeing things from other perspectives. That’s definitely something I’m finding here,” she says.

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