High-tech safari: 'We love content'

21 mei 2019 | Members of student associations Arago and Scintilla of the University of Twente took part in a high-tech safari on Friday May 17.

The morning program consisted of lectures on deep learning and visual intelligence by BD and Philips. In the afternoon, ASTRON and Ziuz gave the students a lecture on antennas and electromagnetic radiation.

Dion from Hardenberg, Alexander from Meppel, Rik from Vries and Geert from Veenwouden study at the University of Twente (UT) and visited our companies for the first time. Geert said that he was ashamed to admit that he had no idea that there were such great high-tech companies in the Northern Netherlands. “And they even exist almost next door in Drachten. I really had no idea. My focus was on Twente and Eindhoven.’’ The comments made by these UT students show that it is essential for our high-companies to bang the drum louder than before, not with shows and parties but with interesting programs with lots of content. This was exactly what we offered the 50 students and we treated them to pizza at the end of the day.

“I did not know that ‘connected’ had already been introduced to such an extent,” was Dion’s response after visiting the Philips factory. He was surprised by its size and the innovations coming from the site, such as the level of connectivity of Philips products to offer users as optimal a product experience as possible. The completely automated production line at BD also impressed him. It struck the students that this production line was built to perform tests and train professionals. This was not what Rik had expected. “I thought that training was done inside the organization, but what BD is doing is great.’’

Poles in the landscape

The students came for content and that is what they got. ASTRON’s David Prinsloo gave students a lecture on antenna design. David was born and grew up in South Africa and has been working for ASTRON as an antenna design engineer for three years. He explained how they create an All-Sky antenna. “We make antennas that allow us to see as much of the sky as possible, not only the visible stars close by but everything else in space.’’ Next, David explained LOFAR. Poles in the landscape held upright by antenna cables attached to a grid are spread across the Netherlands and other countries, and together they form the largest radio antenna in the world. In his lecture, David discussed the details of low-frequency antennas, how they work, what you need to take into account and what you use them for.

The main reason ASTRON makes these antennas is radio astronomy, but there are other applications, such as base stations for next generation 5G. Prinsloo showed an antenna developed by ASTRON. “We were not able to make these antennas before but with the new 3D printing technology and Direct Metal Laser Sintering we now can. These high-performance antennas can process the growing amount of data generated by the Internet of Things.’’

Visual intelligence

Quite different but certainly not less interesting was the lecture byDries Pruimboom, software engineer at Ziuz. He introduced the company he works for as a software company in the nice Frisian town of Gorredijk. Ziuz started out making software for detecting child abuse and has since then grown with applications that recognize medicines and assist doctors in their diagnoses.

Pruimboom explained the workings of IRIS, equipment that uses visual intelligence with a double camera to scan pills. “This ensures people get the right medication.” When the equipment was almost ready for production, it was tested and they discovered it caused electromagnetic radiation. Initially Pruimboom and his colleagues, all software engineers and no experts on electronics, had no idea where to look for a solution. “When we opened the housing, we saw hundreds of wires and fuses we did not understand.” With some assistance and after some research, we discovered that the camera caused the radiation. Because the manufacturer insisted that this was not possible, they had to find a different solution. “We solved the problem by putting all electronics in a casing holding fitted with a special signal filter that blocks radiation.’’ Now the camera works perfectly.


While enjoying his pizza, Alexander gave free feedback on the high-tech safari. “As a technology student, I am less interested in commercial talks by managers. I want to hear the stories of engineers and people from the work floor who do the actual work. Today’s event had all this and met my requirements.’’

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