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Employeneurs become school teachers in the TMC Quality Challenge

Since 2017 TMC Employeneurs have been teaching practical engineering classes to students of the Fontys Technical School in Eindhoven. The classes are a win-win for both students and the Employeneurs involved. As one of the TMC teachers, Eric Gielen from Manufacturing Support shares his experience.

In the spring of 2017 Fontys Technical School approached TMC with the question whether Employeneurs from the Manufacturing Support business cell could teach their students some practical engineering experience. This resulted in the TMC Quality Challenge, a three day challenge in which third year business administration students have to solve an engineering problem.

Employeneur Eric Gielen, project manager at Manufacturing Support, has already taught four Quality Challenges. He manages the project together with his colleague Employeneur Rob van der Drift. ‘It’s really fun and interesting to interact with the students,’ Eric says.

Detailed

The problem the TMC Employeneurs present the students with is based on a real business case from one of TMC’s clients. It involves the improvement of a production process where a steel pipe is cut into rings using a laser. The students are challenged to improve the process so that costs and waste are reduced. ‘Normally these improvements take months, if not years,’ says Eric. ‘So we had to limit the problem in order for the students to tackle it in three days. That was pretty challenging.’

During two days Eric and Rob are available to answer any questions the students may have. They also give feedback on their final presentations. Eric: ‘Some students require a push to ask better questions, others have a too detailed approach and have to go back to the basics. That’s where you provide guidance as a teacher.’

During the project the students are teamed up in groups of five. ‘I think it’s very important that they learn how to cooperate,’ says Eric. ‘In companies cooperation is almost more important than having the right technical knowledge, since knowledge can be obtained anywhere.’

High level analysis

For students the TMC Quality Challenge is often the first time they get to work on a real business case. It teaches them a lot, says Eric. ‘Most of them have studied the material in theory, but they often don’t know how to deal with it on a practical level. For some that’s a real eye opener.’

The students are enthusiastic about the Quality Challenge. ‘They like having to come up with a high level analysis in such a short time. Plus the fact that it’s a real business case and not a fictional one. They also like that we represent an external company and that someone else is teaching them for a change.’

Young people eager to learn

Eric spends about two days a year on the project. ‘It’s a pleasant interruption of my everyday work at TMC. Through teaching I’ve learnt to express myself more clearly and coherently. That’s a big help in my day to day job as well. It’s also fun to do this together with another TMC colleague. You learn from each other.’

The Fontys Technical School has already indicated that they would like to have more TMC Employeneurs as guest lecturers. Eric can recommend it. ‘You’re dealing with young people who are eager to learn. It feels great to contribute to that.’

The TMC Quality Challenge is part of TMC’s larger ambition to help elevate education. Under the name hybrid teaching TMC will link about ten Employeneurs to different Middle and Higher Technical Schools in The Netherlands in the coming year to pass on their knowledge. The Technical University in Eindhoven has also displayed interest in the project.

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