Drachten gets university technology program

15 februari 2019 | As of next academic year, technology students can do the Smart Factory module that is part of the Master’s program in Mechanical Engineering in our ICD Shared Facility Center in Drachten.

This brings the University of Groningen to Drachten. On Friday February 15, the university, the Municipality of Smallingerland, the Province of Fryslân and Innovation Cluster Drachten signed an agreement to this effect during the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the cluster. At this event, it was also announced that the ICD Shared Facility Center on the Philips site was going to be refurbished and turned into a high-tech shared facility center for all technology education programs and companies in the Northern Netherlands.

Growing from 5 to 18 high-tech companies across the Northern Netherlands may count as a great achievement, says Chairman Binne Visser, but what really matters is how companies and educational institutes collaborate. “Together we achieve great results and can bring products and services to the market that are just a little better and smarter than those of our competitors.” However, there is more. The Innovation Cluster Drachten now works together with all vocational colleges (MBO) and universities of applied science on special programs and attractive internships for technology talents. The unique collaboration with the University of Groningen is part of this move. “We enable research students from Groningen to complete part of their Master’s program in Mechanical Engineering at our high-tech shared facility center in Drachten. This brings them into contact with our high-tech companies. We are happy to offer them this opportunity because it allows us to show them that you can have an interesting and challenging career in technology in the Northern Netherlands.’’

University of the Northern Netherlands

The University of Groningen offers a wide range of science and technology programs. The new Master’s in Mechanical Engineering is part of this wider range of technological subjects the university now offers. Many students are unaware of this, according to Professor Jouke de Vries, Chairman of Board of Governors of the university, even though the university started granting degrees in engineering decades ago. “We are now going to change this, for instance by working closely together with the companies of the Innovation Cluster Drachten.”

The Master’s program in Mechanical Engineering is a program offered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and includes modules in Advanced Instrumentation and Smart Factories. In 2020, the program will be extended with modules in Process Design for Energy Systems and Materials for Mechanical Engineering. Students who obtain their Master’s in Mechanical Engineering can put M SC Eng behind their name. Students who do the Smart Factories module in their second year come to Drachten for lectures and research work in the High-tech Innovation Hub. “Together with the high-tech companies, we train students to develop intelligent, coherent production processes for the factories of the future,” says Professor De Vries.

Collaboration without boundaries

Partly thanks to the financial support of the Province of Fryslân, Innovation Cluster Drachten can make this collaboration for Master’s Program Mechanical Engineering Smart Factories possible. “ICD shows that collaboration leads to great results all over the region, as is for instance demonstrated by the collaboration between ICD, Technologies Added in Emmen and 5Groningen in Groningen. Only through collaboration will we remain attractive for technology talents and for existing and new companies. After all, we need these companies to offer jobs to our in habitants.’’

University town

A long-cherished wish of Alderman Robert Bakker of the Municipality of Smallingerland has now been fulfilled. The municipal authorities have been working hard for many years to entice educational institutes to open a branch in Drachten. These efforts have paid off. “Drachten not only offers its own inhabitants but the whole region a range of programs at vocational college (MBO) level. Now that the University of Groningen starts offering a Master’s program in technology here, we will even become a university town. We are very proud of this.’’

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