Where do Dutch technical students go once they have their degree? Many, it seems, go to the United States which now has the greatest concentration of Dutch technical university alumni outside the Netherlands.
Nearly 3,100 alumni of Dutch technical universities are currently studying or working in the US.
Apparently a degree from Delft University of Technology (or Eindhoven and Twente) can lead to a placement with some of the biggest companies or best known universities in the world including Google, Microsoft and Harvard University for instance. Alumni Relations Manager for the University of Twente, Joe Laufer, said “Many Dutch students are attracted by the American culture and the fact that the US has many leading companies and organisations.” But Dutch technical alumni are popular, in turn, with American organisations. Manager Alumni Relations TU Delft, Anouk Dijkstal explained that “Dutch alumni are attractive to US universities and companies because our education is not only based on knowledge; our students are workers and entrepreneurs, particularly the ones who are going to the States. They are flexible and fit in easily.”
In response to the rapidly growing numbers of Dutch TU Alumni in the US, the Technical Universities recently organised a US Tour with the theme Engineering New Boundaries. “This theme”, explained Dijkstal “underlines two important aspects to this phenomenon: fone, you have Dutch alumni who have studied and worked across a huge range and breadth of fields. And you see that American universities and companies are responding to what they call the ‘widely recognised innovative nature’ of the technical universities in the Netherlands.”
The tour last November took in the five cities with the largest populations of Dutch TU alumni - Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Houston – visiting, amongst others, Stanford University, MIT, as well as Google and Microsoft. “At each of these events”, said Dijkstal, “we heard presentations from Dutch TU alumni now working there. And we also spoke to many other alumni about their experiences of living and working in the US. One topic that came up a lot was their children’s education!” Not impressed by the quality of American education and the costs of studying, alumni sometimes decide to return to the Netherlands.
But the ‘Engineering New Boundaries’ tour also highlighted the desire to bring together Dutch TU alumni working in different cities through-out America, as well as strengthening the “added value” of being part of a network of Dutch engineers. In response, volunteers are setting up joint alumni chapters in cities with large Dutch TU Alumni populations.
“Combining the strengths of the three technical universities ensures a critical mass which is interesting for alumni in the US, but also for students in the Netherlands who want to do an apprenticeship or placement in the States”, explained Dijkstal. “There are many Dutch alumni in the US that don’t know about each other. And yet our alumni not only work in some of the best known companies and universities but also for the United Nations and NASA. Now that’s really something to be proud of.”