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Students design the means of transport for the future

Delft University Of Technology : 03 December, 2006  (Technical Article)
TU Delft, together with the municipality of The Hague, is challenging school pupils to think about sustainable transport. A bicycle made of reeds or a car fuelled by honey, everything is possible in the quest for a clean environment. Coached by teachers and students from TU Delft, the pupils will be helped, step by step, to develop their creative ideas.
“The challenge we present to the pupils in not only fun, it is also important,” says Prof. Fokkema, Rector Magnificus of TU Delft. “Current means of transport significantly pollute the environment. Also, the depletion of oil supplies is something we need to keep in mind. That is why scientists are researching alternatives. The fresh ideas of school children could provide new inspiration for scientists. We are very eager to see what they come up with.”

The municipality of The Hague is also very interested in cleaner transport. “Of course we already stimulate the use of public transport in the area, but we cannot escape from the need to develop smart transport alternatives if we want to keep the city liveable in the future. Therefore we are keeping a close eye on the development of things like clean busses, engines or fuels. Moreover, with this project we aim to stimulate the thinking about clean transport,” says Bruno Bruins, city councilman of transport in The Hague.

Teams of two or three pupils and a coach will systematically work through a design process. The first step is to make an analysis of the subject ‘sustainable transport’. This not only involves things like clean engines, but also the use of sustainable materials. Fokkema says, “Perhaps the pupils will come up with an idea for a type of vehivle built from natural materials, that at the end of its life can be put on a compost heap.”

On the fuTUre design Delft website,, the pupils are provided with information, but they are also stimulated to look for information elsewhere. The website also helps them with new ways of generating ideas. A student or teacher from TU Delft can assist the teams in the final phase of idea generation, and can coach them through the rest of the process. The best teams will get the opportunity to elaborate on their work and present this to a jury on the competition day. “This project will also give them a small taste of how engineers tackle problems,” says Fokkema.

Students in Delft have been successfully experimenting with concepts for sustainable transport for a number of years. Twice in succession they built a world record breaking solar powered car. Currently the third Nuna is being developed. Other students have been working on human powered vehicles, such as submarines and aeroplanes. Lightweight construction, a sustainable power source and an aerodynamic shape are the central themes in these endeavours. And now TU Delft and The Hague are challenging school pupils to follow in these students’ footsteps.
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