Awards for practical research

During the Prize Parade on 1 November, awards were given out for the best thesis, the best team of lecturers and the best research. The Hague Councillor for Education Saskia Bruines was member of the jury for that last award. “The research were all about things that touched on current issues in society. They are all very useful.”

“When I graduated, my mother gave me a crystal pyramid with my name and the title ‘MA’ engraved in it”, says Jaswina Bihari-Elahi, who received the Pim Breebaart award for the best research at our university of applied sciences. She speaks about these cherished memories because she thinks it’s nice to receive an award, but it is even better receiving it from someone you admire.

Practical service

“It means a lot that our former chair of the board, Pim Breebaart, was on the jury. I respect him due to his vision on education and research. Universities of applied sciences should not play at being research universities, our research must be of practical service.” And it was precisely that connection with practice that won Jaswina the award. Jury member and Councillor Saskia Bruines: “Jaswina succeeded in structurally including education and practice in highly relevant research.”

Youth unemployment

Jaswina was part of the Innolab Laak Vitaal. There, she focused on reducing youth unemployment. She studied what made employed youths from the district so successful and based her pilot on that. 95 per cent of the participants successfully moved into the employment market. Based on the research, Jaswina developed a tool kit for career professionals and social professionals.

Slog

Jaswina is happy with the award. “It is often a slog at Laak Vitaal, we have thought of pulling the plug as we have run out of funds. Then such an award is a great recognition for all that work. But the best thing about the evening was that my children were there and they could see their mum receive the award.”

Storing solar energy

There was also a prize for students. Sven Korpershoek from the Climate and Management (now Spatial Development) degree programme received €1,500 for his graduation research. In that project he developed a model to evaluate the feasibility of battery systems in which surpluses of generated solar energy can be stored. The model enables advisors to give a considered assessment regarding purchasing and placing these systems in school and office buildings.

Speechless

“I wasn’t nervous the evening before the award ceremony”, explains Sven. “I thought: I’ll just see what happens. Even if I had not won, it was still great because my thesis was considered one of the best at the university of applied sciences. I did feel the tension rise just before the announcement. And when I heard I’d won, I was speechless. I missed part of the jury report being read out because I was a bit shocked by what had happened!”

Currant bread

Sven did not win the prize by chance. He characterises himself as being good in research, having an eye for detail and being analytically strong. “I have had to work hard to achieve this. I am a bit of a perfectionist; and one of my pitfalls was that I wanted to include so many things that I ran out of time.” The jury also praised the quality of his writing: “Everything is presented in a thesis which is the thickness of a well-kneaded loaf of currant bread, that was also clearly legible and even interesting to read.

Step-by-step plan

Sven is now working part-time at Merosch, the company where he graduated, alongside a pre-Master because he wants to study Energy Sciences at Utrecht University. Does he have any tips for graduating students? “Make sure you start out by clearly defining what you want to do. Create a good step-by-step plan, then all you have to do is complete it. If needs be, take an extra two weeks to work out what you are going to do and how.”

Three teams of lecturers were nominated for the Olive Award for motivating, challenging and engaging education. The award went to the HCI/Tinkering team. In December, H|Nieuws will include an article about their achievements.