A ‘homecoming’ at Eindhoven Engine: introducing Dimitri van de Kelft

Following the retirement of Kees Adriaanse, Dimitri van de Kelft has stepped in as the liaison manager between Fontys University of Applied Science and Eindhoven Engine. Where will his focus lie and how does he intend to accelerate innovation? Dimitri shares his initial impressions of the Engine and his vision of an ever-wider impact on society.

Reconceptualizing education

“There are two sides to what I do,” begins Dimitri. “One is that I help the office team with a combination of technical learning and social innovation. Second is making the connection between Fontys and everything Eindhoven Engine does – not just the technical engineering but all the disciplines.”

Dimitri van der Kelft

“More and more students from Fontys are getting involved with Eindhoven Engine and it’s great to see.”

Dimitri van de Kelft, Liaison Manager Fontys at Eindhoven Engine

This is an area in which Dimitri has deep experience, having spent 15 years at Avans University of Applied Sciences. There, he developed innovative education in which the research questions of companies in Eindhoven’s high-tech industry formed the basis for the learning experience. Practice-oriented research in a joint learning environment was used as a vehicle to link education to companies and, in this co-creation, knowledge sharing was stimulated and innovation processes were accelerated. With a focus on smart industry and data science, this led to novel concepts such as the reconceptualization of teachers as coaches that help students create their own learning experiences in industry-led projects and challenges.

“That was seen by Fontys and they found me an interesting candidate for the position of research manager for the Centre of Expertise High Tech Systems & Materials,” Dimitri continues. “The great thing about my new position is that I now also act as a liaison for Eindhoven Engine on behalf of Fontys. It felt like a homecoming! Here, people look at the world not as it is but at how they can change it.”

Reaching further out

In terms of what Fontys and Eindhoven Engine mean to one another, Dimitri emphasizes interdisciplinarity and co-creation – after all, fundamental knowledge from technical universities such as Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has no hope of reaching society unless it can applied. “Eindhoven Engine attracts all kinds of students from Fontys and we form an innovation accelerator for start-ups and (SME) companies. Fontys therefore has a bigger impact,” says Dimitri. “More people understand that technical universities should work with universities of applied science, which is very different to just a few years ago.”

As an example, Dimitri looks to the recent Hack2Impact Health@Home hackathon that brought together Eindhoven Engine, Fontys, TU/e and MIT Hacking Medicine to generate solutions for healthcare and industry. “It was a really inspiring group: students who didn’t know each other but worked together constructively and positively,” he smiles. “More and more students from Fontys are getting involved with Eindhoven Engine and it’s great to see.”

Sustainability is high on Dimitri’s agenda for future innovation. He is therefore very interested in the projects at Eindhoven Engine, such as on circular food packaging and air quality. “At Fontys, I’m now looking for parties with whom we can connect in the field of battery recycling. Perhaps a nice connection with Eindhoven Engine can be created for this special challenge,” he concludes. “After a few months here, I see their vision and the way they’re evolving. The most important thing is an impact for both society and the university. And I want to participate in making this even bigger.”

“The most important thing is an impact for both society and the university. And I want to participate in making this even bigger.”

Dimitri van de Kelft