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Spotlight on engineering in Groningen

Engineers receive royal visit
21 March 2018

The Groningen Engineering Center (GEC) hosted Engineer’s Day on Wednesday 21 March at the UG. For the past four years, the Royal Institute of Engineers (KIVI) has used the occasion to present the Prince Friso Engineering Award to the Engineer of the Year. The Academic Society Award and an Audience Prize are also presented. It has become tradition for Princess Beatrix and Princess Mabel to attend this festive event. The location was the most sustainable education building in the Netherlands: the distinctive Energy Academy Europe in Groningen.

Almost all of the evening programme was dedicated to the finalists for the Prince Friso Engineering Award and the presentation of the Academic Society Award. However, budding UG and other engineers were also given the chance to present their work to the princesses and the more than 200 other KIVI guests. Princess Beatrix and Princess Mabel were particularly interested in the SPRINT / Biomedical engineering showcases (Professor Bart Verkerke) and the Smart manufacturing robots (Professor Bayu Jayawardhana), after being warmly welcomed by King’s Commissioner René Paas, Groningen Mayor Peter den Oudsten and UG Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken.

New Scientist
New Scientist

New Scientist special

Professor Jacquelien Scherpen, Director of the GEC, then surprised the audience with the ‘best kept secret in Groningen – the technology degree programmes at the UG. She waved the special issue of the scientific journal the New Scientist dedicated to ‘Engineering in Groningen’ in the air, with a cover photo of a beaming Professor Ming Cao and ‘his robots’. This special issue also includes an interview with Spinoza prizewinner Professor Bart van Wees about his ‘spinning electrons’, as well as wonderful two-page spreads on Professor Erik Frijlink’s Inhaler and the Ocean Grazer project (an efficient solution for sustainable and renewable power generation in the oceans), as well as the diary of a university lecturer: Kerstin Bunte.

All of the guests attending Engineer’s Day on Wednesday were given a copy of ‘Engineering in Groningen’ to take home. The special edition will be sent to all subscribers along with the April edition of New Scientist on 26 April 2018. If you’re interested in reading the rest of the special edition, the entire publication is available via ISSUU .

Logo kivi

The winners

Microsystems engineer Dr Nima Tolou of Delft University of Technology was the winner of the Prince Friso Engineering Award 2018. He developed a watch with a completely new timing mechanism that can also be incorporated into microwatt chips that draw their energy from their environment. Dr Jan Klok of Wageningen University was awarded the Audience Prize for his improvements to desulphuring technology, which will benefit our drinking water. The Academic Society Award was presented to Prof. Kitty Nijmeijer, Professor of Membrane Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology. In her acceptance speech, she compared her work to playing with Lego. Later on in the evening, she and Princess Beatrix made a membrane together.


Engineer’s Day is an initiative of the Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers (KIVI), the professional association for engineers in the Netherlands. The organization aims to support engineers in their professional practice and to create connections between engineers and society. Engineer’s Day aims to increase the visibility of the contribution made by engineers to society, and to show that a degree in engineering offers varied and attractive career perspectives.

Last modified:12 March 2020 9.22 p.m.
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