Robotica & Mechatronica

Tom van Nispen

‘You’ll actually see our bus driving around now’

Tom van Nispen (22) is a higher professional education (hbo) Automotive student at RDM Rotterdam. In his view, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences’ degree programme offers the ideal mix of theory and practice.

Why did you choose this programme?

“I was always tinkering with mopeds and cars as a kid. After getting my senior general secondary education (havo) degree, I wanted to do a technical study, but at HBO level. So I ended up in Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences’ hbo Automotive programme.”

What’s it like to study at RDM Rotterdam?

“I’m from Haarlem originally, and I hadn’t heard of RDM before. I thought it was pretty cool when I arrived here on my first day. You don’t have that ‘schoolish’ atmosphere. It’s big and has this cool industrial atmosphere. I like classic cars, and it’s great to be set up in a historic building like this. And it’s cool to have a front-row seat when it comes to innovation. You read a lot about innovations nowadays and nine out of ten times the articles mention RDM. Take the floating trees[JK1]  project, for example. Those trees are from the hall next door.”


What do you like most about your programme?

“I work for the ‘Second Life Vehicle’ project. The objective was to give an old vehicle a second lease on life. We saved a classic Citroën HY van from the wreckers’. It originally ran on petrol, and we converted it to an electric motor. We work on this project with some 30 students, from hbo Automotive, hbo Industrial Product Design and Zadkine’s mbo Technical Specialist programme. Now it is in use as a food truck. It’s cool to think that you’ll actually see our project driving around. Basically, everything’s elaborated on the computer beforehand, and now we had the opportunity to actually realise it.”

Foodtruck in use during the World Port Days at RDM Rotterdam

You’re in your fourth year right now: do you know what you’ll be doing after graduation?

“I’m not sure yet. When you complete this programme, you’re specialised in automotive. That’s a very broad field. During my internship, I built electric rickshaws and designed a conversion kit that is being used in India. And right now, I’m once again working on converting a petrol-fuelled van into an electric vehicle. I’m very interested in that kind of thing. I’m also fascinated by legislation, so I’m considering applying for a job at the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW). And if that doesn’t prove an option, I could focus on improving processes at manufacturing plants, for example.”