Congratulations... 'say cheese, Gouda cheese'!

Delta nr 24, August 2005

TU Delft honored 196 international MSc graduates with a Graduation Celebration in the aula last Thursday. Rector Magnificus Jacob Fokkema also presented the 'International Student Collaboration Award'. Most graduates received their diplomas at their faculties earlier in the day.

The main hall of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science (EWI) was slowly filling up with graduates, family members and university staff. While waiting with his family, Italian micro-electronics graduate, Luigi Montotti, reflected on his two years in Delft. "The academic level of my MSc program was okay in general," Montotti said. "But unfortunately my final project wasn't too satisfying. Apart from that though it was nice experience."

After graduation, Montotti's heading back home, where he must take an exam to join Italy's professional order of engineers. "All Italian engineering graduates must take this exam," he explained. "But in October I'm going on holiday to India."

Forty minutes later, excitement had turned into anticipation and 'What's the hold up?' exasperation, but finally the graduates and their toga-clad professors filed into the lecture rooms and the ceremony began. Room A was designated for computer engineering and micro-electronics graduates. The setting however was rather dull - just a few large plants brightened the room. Each graduate was invited to come forward, while professors said a few words about their theses. Speeches varied from, "We've come to know you as a slightly introvert personality", to "I'm sure you're happy to focus on other things than just pushing bits through a computer," with each speech lasting a couple minutes.


Meanwhile at the aula's Senaatszaal, the Faculty of Applied Sciences honored its graduates. Whereas at EWI it was mainly dark suits, here everyone was dressed a more casual chic and the atmosphere was less formal. "Welcome to the Graduation Ceremony 2005. Please rise when the dean and committee enter the room", was projected on the wall. Dean Karel Luyben's short but well-presented opening speech was followed by the diploma presentations.

As each student was introduced, the student's name and photo appeared on the big screen, together with the thesis title. Quite a few jokes were made and when all 12 students had received their diplomas, they were given a pair of sunglasses. Why? Because, "The future's so bright, we've got to wear shades!"

Biochemical engineer Feng Lui had his picture taken with his fellow graduates, the dean and the committee. "I had a nice time in Delft," he said. "It was well-organized and staff members were nice and welcoming. I learned a lot here, especially during my final project." Lui is heading back to China shortly to find a job. "But for now, I'm just going to relax."

Ciptanti Sisbandini, a materials science graduate from Indonesia intended to do the same: "I'm going to enjoy the sun while it lasts." Although she enjoyed her studies, the MSc program didn't exactly meet her expectations: "It was quite broad. I had expected it to be more focused." She will now look for a PhD position in Delft or abroad.


The Graduation Celebration for international students opened with a welcome speech by Rector Magnificus Jacob Fokkema. This was followed by a short film about how foreign students experienced their stay in Delft, and a special ceremony for honor students. Also, the 'International Student Collaboration Award' was presented.

The award - a statue of Greek god Prometheus ('Stealing fire from the gods, giving it to man, he gave technology and development to many') - was initiated last year to honor international students who make major contributions to international collaboration. Colombian Camilo Suarez Mendez, a biochemical engineering graduate, received this year's award. Mendez had organized various international dinner parties, was a student assistant in the International Relations Office and corresponded with Colombian students interested in studying at TU Delft.

Fokkema took the opportunity to encourage the international graduates to spread the word about the TU's MSc programs: "You're our best ambassadors, so do tell friends and colleagues back home about TU Delft."

In the short film about studying in Delft, various international students commented on a variety of subjects, from the university ("the facilities here are excellent!") and the Dutch way of life ("they drink a lot of beer"), to Dutch cuisine (an Indonesian student was shown ordering herring at a fish stand and eventually deciding not to eat it . which was applauded by the audience), Dutch people ("I like blonde girls, but they're too open-minded here") and public transport ("public transport is very good, when it runs on time"). The audience enjoyed the film, which ended by showing students taking shelter from the pouring rain.


When Rector Fokkema invited the 22 honor students present onto the stage to individually award the honors certificates, things didn't run too smoothly. In the end, Fokkema was left holding three different certificates in his hands and mumbling "Huh...yes...ah...but no" and other things in Dutch. Eventually however everyone received their certificates and Fokkema and the honor students posed for a group photograph. "Cheese, Gouda cheese," Fokkema said, successfully putting a smile on the graduates' faces as the camera flashed.

Only 196 of the 284 international students who started the MSc program in 2003 have graduated. Most of the remaining students will get their degrees sometime during the next four months. These students mainly encountered delays due to problems with visa procedures back in the summer of 2003.


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