"We are currently the only university of applied sciences in the Netherlands offering this minor to students."
How does a satellite work, what constitutes space debris and what happens exactly when a rocket is launched? These are topics that will be discussed extensively in the new Space Minor of the Aeronautical and Precision Engineering programme in Delft. Erik Laan, a space industry expert and fan of everything regarding space, is in charge of ensuring this minor is ready for 24 fourth-year students in September. Erik: “We are currently the only university of applied sciences in the Netherlands offering this minor to students. From the professional field, it is clear that the job guarantee is increasing, not only in the space sector but also in the larger group of high-tech companies.”
Fascinated with space from an early age
Erik Laan, lecturer at Inholland Delft University of Applied Sciences, has been fascinated with space from an early age. “I used to gaze at the stars with my father. This encouraged me to read a lot of books on the subject and to learn more about planets.” A unique moment that has always stayed with Erik is the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. “That is when I realised that people can also be sent to space, and I wanted a career in that.” As a result, Erik has deepened his knowledge of space travel. Because the Aeronautics and Space Engineering programme was pretty much restricted to aircraft, he started studying Physics in Amsterdam. He then joined Fokker Space & Systems and held various jobs at TNO and SRON. “With all my knowledge, I started as a freelancer and advised companies in the space sector.”
Space and education
Erik was frequently asked by the education sector to give lectures. “I've always loved education. So after doing this on a temporary basis, I was asked to teach full-time and I have now been a teacher for three years. This still suits me very well. Teaching on a university level appeals to me because students also get to do the practical side.” Erik has a lot of knowledge about space travel and came up with the idea to set up a Space Minor. “At the moment, there is not a single university of applied sciences in the Netherlands that offers something that is in line with space travel. So it really is quite unique.”
Drawn from Erik's knowledge and through collaboration with experts in the field, this minor is due to start in September. “This six-month minor will focus mainly on topics such as orbital mechanics, how it interacts with the space environment and what a satellite consists of.” Satellites have different purposes and are therefore developed in different ways. During the minor, students will also be introduced to the business community. “The students will visit various companies. We also want to enter into collaborations for projects.” According to Erik, it is very important to put future space engineers on the market: “The demand for space engineers is growing, especially because so many developments are currently taking place. It is up to us to prepare our students for this as best we can!”
Want to know more about the Space Minor? Or do you have any questions about this? Please contact Erik Laan via email.