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Jaargang 44, 25 oktober 2001

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Professor De Wit: "We think of everything"
New research school Building Physics planned
On my way to meet TU/e's resident architectural expert on heat, moisture and wind, I'm almost blown away trying to enter the main building. It's strange how there's always a gale force wind at this particular entrance. Prof.dr.ir. Martin de Wit, recently appointed to the new Building Physics chair, tells me this is because high-rise buildings create their own local climate. "The position of TU/e's main entrance is a good example of a bad choice from the wind climate point of view. There are corner streams and the wind acceleration in the passage makes things worse."

TU/e's Architecture department is planning to open yet another new research school, this one for Building Physics and Building Services. Last week prof.dr. Annelies van Bronswijk announced her intention of establishing a graduate school for User Oriented Technology for Design of the Built Environment, or USO-Built for short, as of January 1 2002.
Martin de Wit is completing a proposal for a research school to eventually cater to some 30 PhD students. He is talking to the universities of Delft, Gent and Leuven about making this the main research school of its kind in Belgium and the Netherlands. The school may have an impact on the Master's course, with the last year of the Master's course and the first year of PhD research training coinciding.

New field
"Building Physics is a relatively new specialisation in English speaking countries. Parts of it are known under the names of building science and environmental science. But people don't see it as a complete field", De Wit explains. "The idea that acoustics, lighting, heat, moisture and fire are a field you should see as a whole, is something that's more accepted in Germany and the Netherlands. In other countries heat and moisture aspects are usually taken care of separately by a building services engineer."

The professor says what he needs is publicity. "Last year we organised an international conference on the whole field, showing how the different subjects interconnect", he continues. "The Americans thought the idea of all the elements of Building Physics being one field very strange. Traditionally they are more focused on heating and ventilation. There are places -such as Florida- where you can't really live normally or healthily without airco." An international association for Building Physics was founded during the conference.
Broadly speaking, Building Physics has to do with all environmental factors that may influence a building or it's use. "As a building physicist, you really have to think of everything", De Wit explains. Sometimes various elements will clash: for example the most effective absorption materials will not necessarily meet fire safety regulations. Building physicists seek solutions to this kind of problem.

Hot item
De Wit graduated from TU/e's Applied Physics department in 1970, but has been with Architecture since earning his doctorate in 1975. "TU/e's department of Architecture, Building and Planning was always very internationally oriented, long before internationalisation turned into such a hot item. If you're doing research, you will get involved with foreign researchers and international research groups. And you'll go where the interesting research is", the professor shrugs.
Nevertheless, internationalisation is one of the graduate school's main objectives. De Wit is planning a number of mini conferences for Building Physics PhD students from all over Europe, in an effort to promote an increased exchange of ideas in the field. "Internationalisation should make work more fun. But it's also crucial if you want recognition for an excellent graduate school, like the one we are planning to set up", states the man who was hardly home at all last year, spending time working in Canada and Belgium.
De Wit says organising temporary places for Master's students at foreign universities is no problem because of the network the department has built over the years. "I try to get students to go abroad to take part in specific projects, usually not for anything they couldn't do nearer to home, but to broaden their horizons. Many don't want to leave their families or girl-friends and boyfriends. But being part of a foreign project makes students more independent, brings them into contact with a foreign language and culture. Gives them an appreciation of how things are out in the world, and perhaps makes them realise that not every university makes things as easy for students as TU/e.
I think studying at a foreign university is more useful for a student's development than an internship with a commercial company. You can do that for the rest of your life. I haven't yet had a student who was sorry he or she spent time at a foreign university."

Blind spot
De Wit is also working on a new proposition for EU Fifth Framework Program. If it's accepted, the department will be able to hire two additional PhDs to research the effects of wind in cities. "I've just spent half a year in Montreal, where important wind research is going on. The University of Montreal has one of the few wind tunnels available at a university to study this. Wind is something of a blind spot in Building Physics and I think we need to find out more about it. Most of the existing literature on wind and rain in cities is from England. But I'm sure we at TU/e can make a meaningful contribution to the field in the future."/.

Professor Martin de Wit: "The location of TU/e's main entrance is a bad choice". Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

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Shape the future at European Youth Summit
Generation Europe is organising a "Shaping the Future" European Youth Summit (EYS) on December 3 at the European Parliament in Brussels. Any students between the ages of 19-25 interested may apply to be invited to represent their country at this debate. Employees and entrepreneurs form the 28 EU member states and candidate countries may also participate.

EYS is a live broadcast event offering young Europeans a platform to express their views on the future. It is also an opportunity for the public and private sectors to hear what 'tomorrow's decision-makers' have to say.
The event will focus on 'The workplace of the Future' and will be broad-cast live on 'Europe by Satellite' and the internet. In addition, the assembly will vote for the 'Shaping the Future Award,' presented for the best information campaign on the introduction of the Euro.
The event is backed by the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Belgian Presidency of the European Union as well as several corporate sponsors and media partners.
Generation Europe states that it wants to reach as many qualified young Europeans as possible and hopes that students from TU/e will participate in the selection process. More information at www.generation-europe.org./.

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Fencing tournament
Student fencing club Hoc Habel are hosting their annual international fencing tournament this Saturday (October 27). The tournament will take place in the Student Sports Centre from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Debate on environmentally friendly energy
'Green power for sale' is the theme of a debate on environmentally friendly energy and the future of enduring energy sources on Wednesday October 31 at 11.45 a.m. in the 'Blauwe Zaal' in the Auditorium. Organisers are Studium Generale and Chemiewinkel Eindhoven. The immediate cause for this debate is the commercialisation of the Dutch energy market as of July 1 of this year. This change has caused some confusion among the general public. The Dutch can now buy their power from the power company of their choice, but how do they (and you) know who to choose? The discussion will address this issue. Panel members are: Diederik Samson, Greenpeace campaign co-ordinator, Annemarie Goedmakers, director of the NUON power company's 'Groene Stroom' department and Geert Verbong, lecturer at TU/e's Technology Management department. The debate will be conducted in Dutch.

The art of movement
The Student Sports Centre is offering a number of lessons in 'Chang Quan' and 'Tai ji quan' by Qin Wen. These are two disciplines in the Chinese art of movement. Both students and staff in possession of a sports card may take part in these special classes. 'Tai ji quan' is about finding peace through energetically performed exercises. 'Chang Quan' goes one step further and includes boxing, punching and kicking techniques, it is characterised by rapid, explosive moves. More information at the Student Sports Centre (extension 3232).

The English Page is written by Paula van de Riet. She can be reached at engcur@stud.tue.nl.

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