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Graduating with a master’s degree did not bring the expected train of emotions but it did remove all structure from her life, Padmini Manivannan experiences.

Now that Padmini Manivannan is done with her master’s she thought over what she has learnt. This led her to do a survey of interesting out-of-the-box courses at TU Delft.

Self-reflection is a powerful tool. Now that I am done with my master’s I took a nostalgia trip to think about the things I have learnt. A significant portion of the learnings came from the various courses I took. TU Delft is undoubtedly a great university and I have tried to make the most of the opportunity that was presented to me by taking not just the required courses but taking some specialisations from other faculties too. This led me to do an impromptu survey on the most interesting, out-of-the-box courses available at TU Delft. I received passionate responses from friends and strangers about the classes they loved or wanted to study.

Forensic Engineering -  A course offered by the Aerospace Faculty (taught by Michiel Schuurman and Calvin Rans) which is similar to the ‘Air Crash Investigation’ show televised on The Discovery Channel. The coordinators of the course stage an airplane crash and the students have to go to the ‘crash site’ to investigate the cause of the catastrophe. A student who studied the course said that the best part about the class is that it gave her confidence that a lot of things have to go wrong before something terrible happens and it gave her more faith in the redundancy built into aeroplanes.

Ready to Start-up - A master’s course offered by the TPM Faculty where you learn about the tools necessary to build your own business or start-up successfully. Each lecture is three hours long and includes talks by different industry professionals and start-up founders. The best part about the course, according to a friend, is that you learn what not to do as a business-person venturing into an unknown or relatively new market. It even offers drinks after every session to give an opportunity for one-to-one interactions.

Infrastructure and Environment (I&E) - A multi-disciplinary module in which Architecture, Civil and TPM students can participate. The Architecture students, specifically, have an I&E design course with a fantastic professor, Dr Taneha K. Bacchin. This year, students had the opportunity to travel to Tromso in the Arctic Circle and collaborate with the local landscape school to learn about how to preserve and design with nature. One student reflected that “The course changed the way I thought about nature and how we manage to urbanise the most remote places on Earth (e.g. the Arctic Circle). These landscapes produce energy and food with which cities are built and sustained.” The main topic changes every year with field trips organised all over the world.

Creative Facilitation - A course offered in the industrial design faculty where you learn the tricks, methods, techniques and behaviours to facilitate creative sessions and creative problem solving. It is akin to socially engineering a brainstorming session in which you learn to strategically guide people to think out-of-the-box. They use design principles and methods to learn about group dynamics and guide people into uncovering latent messages and thoughts. “We take turns facilitating sessions -  real cases from companies and practice using different creative thinking methods. Of course, there are books on the subject but the most interesting feeling is that there is no right or wrong experience and the ‘free’ feeling is charming.”

Biologic - A course that is open to students from all faculties in which students are taught key concepts in biology and how to use them in bio-inspired engineering and design. “The course is a bit heavy but it teaches you a lot. Every week you learn something new, like evolutionary biology.” One learns about the concepts related to biomimicry. “You are grouped together with students from various faculties to develop an idea inspired from nature. We developed foundation systems which mimic fractals in nature. It is similar to planting roots which have the highest efficiency possible as a support system.” A couple of students are also supported financially and technically by the award winning professor, Dr Bertus Beaumont, to represent TU Delft in the New York Biodesign Challenge.

This list represents a small portion of all the responses I received with some other noteworthy subjects such as: Aircraft Manufacturing Labs, Building with Nature, Journal on Climate Change and Geosciences, and CleanTech Business Study. Naturally, the list is subjective and the experiences differ per person and many a time, it is the teacher that makes the subject interesting. I hope this compilation leads the reader to their new favourite subject.

Happy studying!

Padmini Manivannan recently graduated from the Master Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.

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