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Double interview chairman Remon Rooij & former chairman Perry den Brok

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Remon Rooij new chairman 4TU.CEE

Double interview chairman Remon Rooij & former chairman Perry den Brok 

As of 1 July 2023, Remon Rooij (TUD) will succeed Perry den Brok (WUR) as chairman of 4TU.CEE - the 4TU Centre for Engineering Education. 4TU spoke to Remon and Perry during a summery afternoon at the Faculty of Architecture about the future plans of this centre and also about its establishment, of which Perry was one of the initiators.

Perry we start with you. Can you explain very briefly what 4TU.CEE is all about?

The 4TU.CEE was founded in 2014 to improve innovations and research within engineering education. We do this by collecting and developing knowledge about education (innovations) and disseminating this knowledge and expertise as widely as possible, also internationally.


What was the reason for the establishment of the centre?

Perry: The first discussions about this collaboration started back in 2009. The trigger was the “Sectorplan Bètatechniek”, a national plan for engineering education and labour market in the Netherlands, which concluded that the efficiency of engineering studies was too low. Intake of students was low and there was a relatively limited focus on what kind of students we delivered after graduation. Furthermore, in terms of didactics, there were also many new developments, but the way of teaching at that time was still very classical, with the emphasis on lectures.

The then three TUs - Delft, Twente and Eindhoven - felt a strong urge to take a stand and set up a centre to address education in its own right. Meanwhile, the situation was changing with a growth in students - also internationally - and there was an increasing influence of ICT on education. Time to get down to business! Eventually, 4TU.CEE was founded in 2014 on the initiative of me (then still from TU/e), Aldert Kamp (TUD), Jan van der Veen (UT) with active cooperation from Linda Baljeu and IJsbrand Haagsma from the 4TU.Federation. Then in 2018 we were joined by the WUR.


What are you most proud of?

Yes, of a lot! If we are talking about concrete products, it is the Innovation Map, which now contains 288 different educational innovations, including tools, research and practical experiences. And our website, which can count on 25,000 to 30,000 visitors a year, with many visitors also coming from outside the four TUs. 

But I am also very proud of the Teaching Career Framework that we developed in collaboration with Ruth Graham and several Dutch universities to make the teaching performance of academics more measurable and meaningful in their personal development and promotion.

Remon adds: What I also like to mention in this context is how the centre has become increasingly visible in recent years. A great example is an educational innovation initiative by Professor Hans Wamelink on entrepreneurship in the built environment that received support from us. Wamelink considered it a huge honour that his project had received funding from CEE. Getting support from CEE then feels like receiving a quality certificate in engineering education!

“I am proud of a lot of accomplishments. Take for example the Innovation Map, which now contains 288 different educational innovations, including tools, research and practical experiences.”
Perry den Brok
Former Chairman 4TU.CEE


Yes Remon, to continue with you, you are no stranger to 4TU.CEE

That's right! I have been involved with 4TU.CEE since 2020 as one of the board members representing TU Delft. My joining as president in this year is convenient in terms of timing as the strategic plan of 4TU.CEE still runs until 2025. That allows me some time to experience the current policy closely before I start working on mapping out the next four-year period with partly new priorities.


How did you get involved with 4TU.CEE?

Remon: The education side suits me well and I slowly got involved into it from my own field of Architecture. It started with thinking along about educational innovations within Architecture: courses, minor programmes, graduation projects and later as the responsible person for the bachelor course in Architecture and the designer of the new TUD-WUR master's programme MADE. In doing so, I really enjoy applying educational knowledge and theory in the day-to-day practice of teaching. At TUs, teaching is mostly done by engineers and they usually have little or no educational training. I advocate to support them and inspire them to do the same. This will raise the quality of education and that is something you wish for every student!

“I really enjoy applying educational knowledge and theory in the day-to-day practice of teaching. At TUs, teaching is mostly done by engineers and they usually have little or no educational training. I advocate to support them and to inspire them to do the same.”
Remon Rooij
Chairman 4TU.CEE


So from your management role, you have been able to experience the 4TU.CEE for a while now. What has caught your eye?

Remon: That - besides the fact that the centre produces great results - there is also a very capable team behind it. I experience a genuine interest in each other's areas of expertise. We all have the same drive to work on good, well-founded educational innovations - from their development to their dissemination. There is also room for knowledge exchange. We meet regularly as board members, but there is also a lot of exchange between teachers, educational consultants, educational researchers, postdocs and PhDs through the seminars and webinars we organise.


Perry, Remon is going to take over the baton from you as of July, do you have any advice for him?

Yes definitely, as chairman he should find his own style. Try to balance innovating and consolidating what you already have. That means you shouldn't start too many new themes at once, and you have to make sure the themes have a solid foundation. That's how we came up with the concepts Engineer of the Future, Engineering Education of the Future and Teacher of the Future in which we could very nicely fit in our main goals and main target groups. In recent years, we have also increasingly focused on faculty and institution management.


What is the added value of a partnership like 4TU.CEE?

Perry: That at the level of knowledge you can complement each other and develop yourself much faster. Take Challenged Based Learning, for example. Lecturers from all four technical universities are working on it and students are also involved in the vision formation about it. This allows you to create mass and therefore these kinds of concepts not only develop faster, but it also makes them more solid.

“A partnership like 4TU.CEE allows you to create mass and therefore concepts like Challenged Based Learning not only develop faster, but it also makes them more solid.”
Perry den Brok
Former Chairman 4TU.CEE


What would 4TU.CEE like to achieve in the next two years?

Remon: In advancing the already mentioned Challenged Based Learning, the 'inner engineer' becomes increasingly important. Apart from operational, technical skills, has this engineer also personal resilience and mental health skills?

Our society is becoming more complex when you look at the challenges we face. The engineer of tomorrow will not only be the driver of new technologies but, in the first place, of changing the systems behind them. That type of transition thinking demands a lot from him or her, and education needs to address it.

“The engineer of tomorrow will not only be the driver of new technologies but, in the first place, of changing the systems behind them.””
Remon Rooij
Chairman 4TU.CEE


A final wish?

Remon: That the tools and frameworks all developed by the four TUs do not remain in a drawer, but are actually used on the work floor. We already ask this of our project leaders: show how your project affects our learning and teaching environments. By taking the practical side of education seriously, the innovation can actually take place and we can further raise our educational quality and deliver the engineers our society so desperately needs! 

Perry den Brok (1973) is professor of Education and Learning Sciences at Wageningen University and Research. He chairs the 4TU Federation’s Centre for Engineering Education (4TU.CEE). Perry studied Education Sciences at Radboud University in Nijmegen and received his PhD from the University of Utrecht in 2001. In 2010, he became a professor of Educational Sciences for Science Education at Eindhoven University of Technology and transferred to Wageningen in 2017.

Remon Rooij (1973) is associate professor in the Faculty of Architecture & the Built Environment at TU Delft. Remon has an interdisciplinary background: a PhD in Spatial Planning , an engineering degree in Urbanism and Real Estate & Construction Management. Remon is an alumnus of the Educational Leadership course. Besides his work at TU Delft, he was a top sports trainer/coach of men's gymnastics at one of the national centres for many years. He contributed intensively to the training of Olympians and a large number of national champions within different age groups.