If you are following a post-master's design program at the 4TU.School for Technological Design within the Stan Ackermans Institute (SAI), upon completion you may add the academic title Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) to your name. At least until September 1 this year, when the name of the degree will change to EngD: Engineering Doctorate. How that works is explained by Paul Koenraad, director of the 4TU.School for Technological Design within the SAI, which also celebrates its 35th anniversary on May 17.
PDEng programs are two-year, full-time programs that you can do after your master's at the university. They have been around in our country for 35 years and are offered within the 4TU.School for Technological Design of the Stan Ackermans Institute. The four universities of technology in Delft, Twente, Wageningen and Eindhoven provide the PDEng programs through their 4TU partnership. The programs fall under the so-called third cycle of higher education, just like PhD studies. The name change of the degree to EngD is the result of the desire of other higher education institutions to also offer third-cycle programs, says Koenraad.
HBO versus university
"The Universities of Applied Sciences (HBOs) may soon start offering third-cycle programs, most likely a three-year program with the Professional Doctorate degree. At the moment, we still offer a Professional Doctorate in Engineering. To make the distinction clear, we have decided, in consultation with the university, to change our degree to ‘Engineering Doctorate’."
"An additional benefit of this name change is that it brings us more in line with international tradition and designation," adds Koenraad. "Internationally, the Engineering Doctorate stands for an academic level 3 degree. Our PDEng degree was really something Dutch. So, in this way, we are more in line with international practice."
Incorporated into the law
And there is another advantage, although this is expected to take some time: it is likely that the EngD and Professional Doctorate degrees will eventually be incorporated into the law. This was not the case with the old designation. "Of course, for students who have completed the program, it is nice to be able to say that you have a degree that is included in the law. That gives a bit of extra recognition and credence."
20 post-master designer programs
The Stan Ackermans Institute offers 20 post-master designer programs at four universities in the Netherlands: Delft, Twente, Wageningen and Eindhoven. It encompasses a wide range, from data and software science to the built environment and from medical techniques to chemical processes – everything is covered. The emphasis is on carrying out projects in industry.
Koenraad: "The programs last two years. In the first year a student follows shorter programs and assignments while in the second year he or she works on a problem or project from industry. This could be anything: a project in a hospital, at a chemical company or a software company. Companies gain great value from the execution of these projects. For example, we often see that people here who have carried out such a project are subsequently hired in the company or organization where they did the project."
The issues the students work on are very interesting, Koenraad says. "They are often deep inside a company or organization, working on a problem or issue that has value to society. That's how we can make a real impact with the programs and contribute to important solutions that are needed in the industry."
Thinking like a system engineer
Koenraad knows that students of the celebrating Stan Ackermans Institute are enthusiastic about the programs. International students in particular are given the opportunity to develop themselves further and get to know the Dutch labor market. "They learn to think like a system engineer. A valuable addition to the foundation they have already acquired in their other studies. That is also a clear goal for us: to make a real contribution. To the knowledge of our students, to industry, to innovation. Our programs pave the way for researchers to get close to industry."
Looking to the future
In this anniversary year, does Koenraad have a dream or wish? "We are doing a lot of great things and really making a valuable contribution to industry. That's great. We currently provide about 110 people a year. I would like to increase that number. Let's aim to double that in about five years, that would be a nice goal. We are also working on getting the University of Groningen on board. This will expand our range and possibilities. In any case, the cooperation between the universities has become very good in recent years, with more and more coherence in the way that programs work together."
In the coming years, Koenraad also wants to work on scaling up. "We are going to collaborate more with Eindhoven Engine. And we want to move much more towards tackling the questions of larger themes, such as the energy transition. Instead of acquiring a single project, we want to broaden the scope and take on projects that are all related in terms of their own subject area and in their own way of dealing with such a major societal theme. There are plenty of challenges ahead of us and we are keen to play our part in them."