“Use your bright minds.” With these words, Novel-T’s Mike Verkouter kicked off the student think tank Create Tomorrow, last Wednesday. In a huge festival tent on the event grounds of the University of Twente’s campus, students tackled various challenges over the course of a single day. With nine teams and 55 participants, ECIU University was amply represented.
A genuine coffee bar, Persian rugs and soft lounge sofas. Brightly coloured neon lights hanging from the ceiling. An immense stage. Tables full of fresh fruit and other delicious snacks. “It is all quite impressive”, says Rustam Habibov. He hails from Azerbaijan, but is currently studying in Lithuania at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). He signed up as soon as ECIU University began promoting the Create Tomorrow event. “It’s right up my street. I am eager to meet new people from all over the world and this event is a great opportunity to do so. Working together on a challenge leads to new insights and ideas, and even new friendships.”
Habibov arrived at the UT campus last week. “I like it here on this campus.” He got a chance to get to know the other ECIU University participants during several activities and games.
“There were also various workshops, such as a training on brainstorming, to help us prepare for today’s event. Now here we are, in this enormous tent, with all the participants and some excellent guest speakers. It is a really big deal.”
Mik van den Brink is slightly more critical. The Dutch student is currently studying at the University of Stavanger in the eponymous city in Norway. “I am enrolled in the Energy, Environment and Society master’s programme. I have lived in Norway since I did my bachelor’s at Saxion. I spent a year at home in the Netherlands during the coronavirus pandemic, but I went back to Oslo to write my thesis. I am now doing a master’s in Stavanger to specialise myself further.”
He had never heard of ECIU University before signing up. Since then, he has learned more about the European alliance. Last Monday, he arrived at the UT campus to meet the other students.
“I am very interested in international collaboration and how others view the problems of our world. People talk a lot about climate change, but nothing gets done about the core issue: humanity is depleting our planet’s resources.”
Van den Brink is clear in his convictions. Nothing will get resolved without overhauling our existing systems. “We have to adopt a far more integral approach. The challenge we are working on today – coming up with a way to store wind energy – is just a small piece of the puzzle, especially because we still use cobalt from Congo to build these accumulators. What is sustainable about that?” The student expects to see only superficial solutions today. “And a lot of buzz words like “green” and “sustainable”. I’m sure people mean well, but we have become alienated from our systems and I am trying to raise awareness of that.”
Marie Xhauflair from Belgium is currently enrolled in the Educational Science & Technology master’s programme at the University of Twente. As a so-called buddy, she is taking one of the ECIU University teams under her wing. “We are working on a challenge from Total Energies: how to provide energy when there is no wind or sunlight to harvest. Create Tomorrow is an awesome way to work on extra-curricular activities. Doing this together with students from ECIU University makes it even more fun. We have all been together since last Monday and we took part in a number of preparatory workshops. Yes, we are one up on the rest. I hope it helps!”
Create Tomorrow is an event full of inspiration, technology and entertainment. You will explore and solve societal, business-related or technical challenges of the future. Around one hundred student teams get to work in one big tent. There, students get a chance to connect with their peers, but also with innovators from national and international companies.
Photographer: Frans Nikkels.