Wetsus Talent programme is motivating students to seek a future in the water sector. The young researchers are returning out of enthusiasm and impressions they made. That is the conclusion of recent research from the group. Currently, two students that followed the programme are actively researching at Wetsus.
Former honors student Nika van Asselt has led research on the effectiveness of the Wetsus high school water programmess: honours, lab days, and research aid. Nika: “We have seen many positive responses, especially from the honours program. It has helped students not only to make a definitive choice for the water sector but has made them go through personal development too. The students were more confident and knew how to effectively communicate their ideas after the program.”
Similar positive responses were found from students who sought out help at the talent team for their school’s scientific research. Nika: “students are impressed by how much they learned and are glad they could use the scientific facilities at Wetsus that they would have never gotten into touch with were it not for their experience here. A sentiment the schools share on the lab days.”
And currently, two students that were familiarized with Wetsus from a young age are researching here.
Joost ter Haar: talent first spotted at primary school
Joost Ter Haar first got in touch with Wetsus in primary school. “I vaguely remember one experiment we did at school with the instructors of Wetsus. I recall violently shaking a bottle to create a vortex,” tells Joost. “I wasn’t very good at following the instructions, so I enjoyed the active nature of the experiment,” he says laughingly.
“I’m not sure that was the very moment that sparked my interest in water technology, but I know I enjoyed it,” tells Ter Haar. Though, in some way or another, he did find himself pursuing a career in the sciences. “I don’t know what exactly made me choose biology. However, I know I liked the natural sciences from pretty early on.”
Once studying microbiology, Ter Haar found himself working a side job at a brewery and Vitens. “At Vitens, I got to test the drinking water as a microbiology analyst,” he says, “and got hooked on water technology, or at least the biological side of it.”
And by now, he is finishing his studies in water tech. “Even though I’m still studying, I got a job offered at Vitens, which I will gladly take on,” Ter Haar explains. “I hope I can improve the methods there. I want to be an analyst of the future. That’s why I’m happy to do research at Wetsus and keep improving myself and the science.”
André Baron: talent first spotted at high school
One more driven student is André Baron – a second-year student at the Wetsus Academy. “I first got in touch with water technology through a friend. He was doing his profile-related high school research on blue energy. And although I found it interesting, I didn’t immediately fall in love with the topic,” though André did go on to study environmental sciences.
“It was here that I truly found my interest in water technology as I chose to study my major courses in the science.” There were plenty of choices, but André was sold from the beginning: “I recollected the experience of my friend and the fantastical stories of my dad about blue energy and how it would be thefuture.”
One bachelor thesis at Wetsus later and André knew that he – for sure – had found his calling as a water technologist. A title that he is about to earn by finishing his thesis on blue energy.
Being an inspiration
Long-time member of the talent team Jan Jurjen is excited to see the students returning. “You get so much energy from working and having worked with these people. It is amazing to see them throughout the lifelong learning program.”
Having recently celebrated his 12.5-year anniversary at Wetsus, Jan Jurjen has witnessed a great number of students returning over time. “A multitude of students have come back for their school projects, stating that they had such a great time last time.
And, next professional bonding over water technology, you develop personal bonds with some of the students. Some I spoke to years ago recently invited me to go on a sailing trip with them. The same goes the other way – when we organized a science fair, the number of youngsters that were motivated to help out was extraordinary. Even students that lived 200km away, came to help out in Leeuwarden.
Working with the age group of 14 to 17-year-olds is so motivating to me. They are so energetic, so real, like no one else. Therefore I am very grateful to help out. I would like to encourage everybody to be involved in such projects – even if you’re not sure that it suits you. Be an inspiration. You never know where you’ll meet your past students again.”