As a first-generation academic from a humble background, I was lucky to receive scholarships throughout my studies and worked part-time out of curiosity and necessity. This is my seventh university and my fourth exchange so I’m a seasoned veteran with exchange programmes.
The first time I heard about IDEA League was over ten years ago while doing an Erasmus exchange at Politecnico de Milano, which is now part of the IDEA League network. It intrigued me then, and so it caught my attention when I came across the programme while preparing for my current exchange. IDEA League is a bit like a boutique programme that crosses disciplines and nations, connecting technical schools together, and that makes it unique.
I am currently a visiting PhD researcher in the Department of Management in the Built Environment at TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture, supported for six months by the IDEA League Short-term Research Exchange Grant. I have rarely seen any other architecture or civil engineering faculty that has such strong standing in the kinds of research that I do. My work is around trying to figure out how we can improve the construction industry for its people and users. I’m mostly interested in entrepreneurship for construction, using new technologies like robotics and 3D printing.
I did my bachelor’s and master’s in architecture and now I’m doing my PhD in civil engineering. Being back in architecture through this programme is quite interesting. There are mutual benefits to understanding both domains because in practice there is the need for them to work together to serve society productively.
I’m halfway through my time here and some incredible connections have already materialised due to IDEA League, and these will be long-lasting. I feel like I have a secret network of people across different disciplines that I can talk to. I think it’s also a great opportunity to meet students from other very different faculties, different universities, different languages, different research cultures, and so on. This actively forces me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses. It exposes new strengths, especially in terms of soft skills, and exposes weaknesses and opportunities to improve. I see benefits for myself on both a personal and professional level.
“IDEA League is this kind of network that connects us as students. It helps us to reach different levels within the university, and helps to break down hierarchies and barriers to make research more accessible.”