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New and exciting challenges

Jan Willem de Wit, Electronic Systems Engineer

There are many types of electrical engineering jobs to be had. Why choose for electrical engineering at imec the Netherlands’ OnePlanet Research Center? Because of the variation in work that you get to do! It’s what electronic systems engineer Jan Willem de Wit discovered when he turned to imec for his next career step. At imec great minds collaborate in small teams to do cutting-edge research for best solutions. For Jan Willem, working in such an intellectually challenging environment, inspires him to give his best.

“I’m a ‘hardcore’ electrical system engineer. Working as electrical engineer for an electronics access control company, for over 20 years, I applied my know-how in the broadest sense. I did everything from analogue and RF electronics to firmware and mechanics. They were a start-up and I was their first full-time employee. As such, I was given maximum leeway to do what I felt needed to be done.”

“But, at the end of the day, it was sales and the commercial success of the products that were leading. It was all about development and making products with minimum time-to-market. I urged to change the portfolio toward more human relevant products, but this turned out to be impossible within the company. Meanwhile, my interest in doing research in addition to my engineering work was increasing. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to grow in that direction. Reason for me to go in search of an engineering job position where I could broaden my horizons, do research and apply my knowledge for more socially relevant solutions.”

The best of both worlds

“At OnePlanet Research Center, I once more find myself working in a start-up setting. Only this time, I get to do development and research. The collaboration at OnePlanet Research Center, between imec, two leading Dutch universities and an academic hospital – Wageningen University & Research, Radboud University and ­Radboudumc – means I get to have the best of both worlds. Yes, it’s about research and applying ground-breaking insights and technologies. But at the same time, it’s also about business development and making a viable product that is ready for market.”

“It’s great to be able to really get my teeth stuck into serious research, with hopefully patents as a result. And what makes it all very challenging is the drive to make such results – and solutions – available to help tackle real-world issues. We make research concrete. For instance, we recently researched and developed nitrate sensors at the request of the provincial government. Within a matter of only three months, we had in place our first test set-up.”

Variety of tasks

 “My work focuses on agricultural and on health solutions. Two completely different application areas, but I really enjoy the variety of tasks this brings. What’s more, within imec, submitting creative ideas is encouraged in every way. Even if such ideas are outside your scope of work. I recently submitted an idea for the so-called imec Idea Engine. It was about assessing the number of people in a room based on CO2 levels. This idea was discussed in length but finally deemed unsuitable. Nonetheless, it has resulted in more research into better quality air by monitoring and regulating CO2 levels in ventilation systems.”

Find out more about working at imec the Netherlands

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