Wifi and bluetooth have been discovered there, so it is safe to say that our lives would not be the same without the University of Twente. It fits the dream the founders had in 1961: to create a unique microcosm where students, professors and staff have to push each other to great heights in a knowledge bubble.
In this video we look back on 60 years of UT using unique archive images. The story continues below the photo.
Best engineers in the Netherlands
In fact, says UT in-house historian Peter Timmerman, the aim was for Enschede to train better engineers than competitors Delft and Eindhoven. “That philosophy was certainly there in the early years. And the trump card in that philosophy is the fact that Enschede was the only university in the Netherlands to have a campus.”
In 1961, not only school buildings were placed on that campus, located on the Drienerlo estate between Enschede and Hengelo. The students came to live there, but the staff and even the professors were given their own accommodation on campus. And they worked, played sports and lived together. Timmerman: “And when the professors left their outdoor lamps on in the evening, students were allowed to knock on the door for additional explanation.”
Lunch with Nobel Prize winners
It characterizes the geniality in Enschede, according to professor Hans Hilgenkamp. He came to Enschede in 1985 and actually never left: “The informal atmosphere here, that feeling that you are all doing the same thing. I felt that immediately when I came in. It made my landing in the university world, as a blue boy from Zutphen, to a soft one. I quickly found my way here.”
After Hilgenkamp graduated in Enschede and also obtained his PhD in applied physics, he took a small trip. He went to do research in Zurich, where he ended up at the lunch table with four Nobel Prize winners: “These were my heroes, and now I was suddenly allowed to work with my examples from the study benches. It was like coming to play football at Barcelona.”
According to Timmerman, it remains to be seen whether the engineers from Enschede are actually better than those from Delft and Eindhoven, especially with today’s knowledge. “But discoveries such as WiFi and Bluetooth, our world-famous nanolab and the brand-new Tech Med Center show that the UT is still a significant player internationally.”
Hilgenkamp also eventually returned, and he will probably stay here until his retirement. “I’ve been all over the world, but if you’re talking about a place where I don’t feel displaced, then it’s Enschede. Here it feels like home to me, like the old ground so to speak.”