KE@Work: First 10 students in academic work/study track to graduate
On Wednesday, 13 July 2016 the first 10 bachelor's students to complete the work/study track KnowledgeEngineering @ Work graduated. This was a memorable day not only for them, but also for the Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering at Maastricht University. Frank Thuijsman, professor, leader and initiator of the project explains: ‘It's great to see that it's possible to work and learn at an academic level. The first pioneers with whom we started this track two years ago are now graduating. They not only have their bachelor's diploma, but come away with two years of work experience as well. This is unique in the Netherlands because we are the first (and only) regular bachelor's programme at academic level that is structured as a two-year work/study track.’
What is KE@Work?
Starting from their second year of study, talented and motivated bachelor's students from the Knowledge Engineering programme work at (international) companies in the region. During this two-year work/study track, students tackle challenging assignments in the area of scientific programming and modelling, such as predicting breakdowns for various car types or developing a recommender system for a regional tourism website. They are guided in these tasks by a supervisor from the company as well as a lecturer. In addition, the students take their regular courses and exams. Frank Thuijsman comments: ‘By connecting students with the regional business community at an early stage in their studies, they are able to build up their work experience and put their knowledge directly into practice. This is also an attractive opportunity for companies, since – through the students – they gain access to the latest developments in the field. Furthermore, they show students that interesting jobs also exist in Limburg, and not just in the Randstad.’
Employability, or students' chances of landing a job, is becoming increasingly important for prospective students and the government alike. Frank Thuijsman notes: ‘There is a great deal of interest in this project, from fellow institutions as well as from businesses and the government. I'm happy that we're able to demonstrate that this combination of working and studying is also possible at an academic level.’ The project was launched in 2014 with companies such as Vodafone, Mercedes, Mediaan and Medtronic. In the 2016-2017 academic year, the third group of 21 students is set to begin. In addition to the abovementioned companies, new businesses and organisations such as CBS, APG and Q-Park will also be participating.