Dr. Trainee

Bloggers: Francesca Chiappini and Maarten van Reijzen • 15 Jun 2018

Name: Maarten van Reijzen, PhD. Background: Physics-Chemistry. Start date February 2017
Name: Francesca Chiappini, PhD. Background: Physics. Start date September 2016

In the past year, we (Francesca and Maarten) got to know each other and got to work together in one of the multitude of research groups that TNO has to offer during our traineeship. For 8 months, we shared an office and a laboratory, and we figured out that we have a lot in common. For instance, we both have a passion for research which brought us to travel the world and to do a PhD in a foreign country before our traineeship. Maarten (32) spent 4.5 years in Switzerland at the EPFL, designing and building a new experiment that investigates energy transfer from molecules to surfaces. Francesca (30) left Italy for the Netherlands to investigate the properties of electrons in graphene in high magnetic fields, at the Radboud University in Nijmegen.

When you’re almost done with a PhD, the big question all your colleagues and friends repeatedly ask is: “What’s next?” More specifically, the big decision on Academia vs Industry looms over all PhD students in Technical Sciences. For us the answer to this question was simple; “Why not both?!”. Working at TNO came therefore as a natural choice.

During our PhD, we both focused on a very specific research topic. But after four years of digging into a subject, we both had the feeling that we became overspecialized and that we lost touch with reality a bit.

Nowhere better to realize this than at a birthday party when someone asks you the question “What do you do?” and you are forced to decide whether to explain the finer details of quantum mechanics and how that ties into your work.

We both really like to do research, but we wanted a place where the connection between the work you do and the application in the outside world is clearly visible, where your everyday work is translated into tangible innovation. TNO proved to be the perfect place to continue our careers.

At university, much emphasis is placed on scientific development, but very little attention is given to the personal one. In the traineeship, we were given ample space and time through workshops, meetings and coaching to develop ourselves in management and soft skills, to complement our technical skill portfolio. Additionally, you get to surround yourself with a group of eager fellow trainees, that motivates you and makes it just really fun!

Besides the personal development, the traineeship has allowed us to join different (research) groups, exploring topics that go beyond the scope of our PhD research. The TNO traineeship opened the doors for us to the broad range of research done at TNO and allowed us to do world class research in fields that would otherwise not have been accessible to us.

We both started at the same time at the Optomechatronics department, in the group for Nano Optomechatronics Instrumentation (NOMI). The NOMI team is a fun and international group of scientists and engineers working to develop the tools for the semiconductor industry of tomorrow. The group has a unique set of competencies when it comes to instrument design and experimental technique development. The cutting-edge research is always done with an eye on customer needs and applications, but at the same time pushing the boundaries of what is known and possible. At NOMI we found an open and inspiring environment to work and learn from.

Now we are both moving on to our next spot within TNO. Luckily there is much more to choose from! From hybrid printed electronics at the Holst Centre in Eindhoven to the Corporate Science Office in The Hague, TNO offers all kinds of challenges!

About the authors

Name: Francesca Chiappini (30)    Name: Maarten van Reijzen (32)
Background: Physics   Background: Physical Chemistry
First department: Nanoinstrumentation in Delft   First department: Equipment for Additive Manufacturing in Eindhoven
Second department: Optomechatronics in Delft   Second department: Optomechatronics in Delft
Third department:  Holst Centre in Eindhoven   Third department:  Strategy & Policy in The Hague
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