11 DKE students listed in Dutch ‘Top 500 tech talents under 26’
Each year, technology conference TNW catalogues 500 of the Dutch tech world’s most talented people under the age of 26. This year’s list – the T500 – features three alumni and eight current students of the Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE). Among them is Dirk Bongers, master’s student Data Science for Decision Making and part-time data scientist.
“I have quite an entrepreneurial mindset”, says Dirk (24). He applied for the T500 because he’s eager to meet other young people in the tech community, especially those in fields neighboring his own. “The T500 doesn’t just include data scientists and entrepreneurs. It also includes people from creative and marketing sectors, for example. These days, you need to be able to collaborate with people from other fields. There’s always something you can learn from one another.”
Part master’s student, part data scientist
After completing the bachelor’s programme Data Science and Knowledge Engineering, Dirk continued his studies at DKE and enrolled for the master’s programme Data Science for Decision Making. He didn’t stop there, though. “Early on in my master’s studies, some 2.5 years ago, I started working as a part-time data scientist at Heerlen-based company Mediaan. As a data scientist, I initially specialized myself in deep neural networks and predictive analytics. I then had the opportunity to work on my soft skills, such as entrepreneurship and networking, and now I’m also involved in finding new customers.”
A down-to-earth astronaut
The T500 gathers at the TNW conference in early May. “I look forward to getting to know everyone better”, says Dirk, “but I also really look forward to the conference itself.” His eyes light up. “In order to be included in the T500, I had to go through a selection procedure similar to a job application. We also had to list our idols.” Dirk chose André Kuipers, a Dutch astronaut who has spent 204 days in space. Kuipers is set to give a talk at the conference. “What he experienced, his journeys, that’s really special. But the way he speaks about it… He talks about his experiences in such a, well, down-to-earth way. I like that a lot about him, and it’s so interesting to hear about all the different aspects of space travel.”
To infinity, and beyond
Space travel may be ambitious, but there is no shortage of ambition in Dirk’s future plans either. Given the age restriction, the T500 is only within reach for one more year. No bother: “I’m slowly developing myself towards a team lead role at my work, where I manage other data scientists, and I want to keep growing my entrepreneurial side.”
Other DKE students/alumni on the list
We also congratulate DKE students Hristo Minkov, Floor Hegge, Zhecho Mitev, Valentin Calomme, Bruno Lubasher, Marwan Mansour, Christie Courtnage and our alumni Iulia Feroli, Mateusz Garbacz and Ajkel Mino for making it on the list.