Keeping students on course

‘Our students have to be able to tinker with things. Making things; that’s what makes them happy’

Hans Hellendoorn andHans Welleman, two education experts in conversation

Professor Hans Hellendoorn is head of the Delft Center for Systems and Control (DCSC) and Director of Education at the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE). Ir. Hans Welleman is a lecturer in Structural Mechanics and Director of Studies at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEG). Both faculties introduced a revised Bachelor’s curriculum in 2013. Two education experts in conversation.

irst, the introductions. Hans Hellendoorn’s subject area is control engineering, more specifically systems with many regulators. “All manner of distribution networks - water, gas, electricity, containers - are becoming increasingly automated. The trick is to have all those systems working together in a hierarchy. I’ll give you an example. The pressure in the gas network is slightly too high to ensure that everyone always has enough gas. But all the pipes leak slightly, so overall a huge amount of gas is lost. If we have more information about the users, provided by smart meters, we can reduce the pressure and limit the amount of gas lost,” explains Hellendoorn. Having taught with pleasure for many years, he still supervises many final-year students. Recently, however, he has been mainly occupied with the Bachelor’s review and lecturer quality.

Largescale teaching

Hans Welleman is not only Director of Studies, he has a full teaching schedule. Teaching is something he has done for many years with great passion. “I’ve been teaching structural mechanics since 2000. These are large modules, especially in the Bachelor’s programme. I teach two courses with more than 400 students in Years 1 and 2, and another 180 in Year 3. You could call it ‘mass teaching’,” he says. If it is, it’s successful mass teaching. “Over the years I’ve developed a well-oiled system for getting those large groups through the structural mechanics modules in a structured way.” This is how the gentlemen know each other: Hellendoorn went to see his colleague in the run-up to the review to see what the success factors were in his largescale teaching.

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