Student Eric applied math in a greenhouse

Math and gerberas. Strict formulas and colourful flowers. This combination may not seem obvious when you think you know everything about intersections, parabola, logarithms, sine and cosine. That doesn’t stop Applied Mathematics student Eric van der Sluis from doing great work for He developed a model for the company to detect and track gerberas. Thanks to his work, every gerbera grower can closely follow how fast each plant grows and when it will be ready to harvest.

So you are a math whizz. But what can you do with it later? For Eric that was quite clear four years ago.He wanted to use his math skills to help a company perform better. Now that he has almost graduated, he still has this goal. “During my internship I worked with gerberas. But the possibilities for Applied Mathematics are much broader. I can develop software for a company. Or work on data analysis.”

Detection and tracking

“I developed a new detection and tracking model for gerbera growers who are a customer at Take the example of that one grower. He wants to know how his plants are doing, when he can harvest them and when they will be ready for auction. One option would be to inspect the greenhouses every day but it would be much easier to place a camera in the gerbera greenhouse. Every day it takes a new picture of the gerberas. I have given every flower its own identity. This allows the grower to track each plant until it’s ready to harvest. Based on the images that are stored in the cloud, he will know exactly how many flowers he will be able to harvest, how many new flowers will grow in a day or a week and if some batches are growing better than others. He can see it all in once glance on his computer. This is much more efficient than inspecting the greenhouses every day.”

25 great colleagues overnight

His internship at was Eric’s first introduction to the private sector. “It greatly expanded my world. I suddenly gained 25 fun, young colleagues. After a while I had gotten to know everyone. It was a new experience for me to work every day from 8 am to 4.30 pm and to meet the expectations of your colleagues.”

“My tip for starting students is to ask yourself what you really like to do and at what level you want to do this: theoretical or practical. Then see if the degree programme that you have in mind will give you what you expect. It’s helpful to visit the Open Day or, even better, attend one of the Open Lessons.” 

Would you like to learn more about our Applied Mathematics degree programme? Click on the degree programme page.