Alumni Interview #October
Welcome to the October edition of our alumni interviews We will aim to post these each month so check out our news page at least once a month.
Name: Stijn Elderenbosch
Employer: Nordian Capital Partners
Title: Investment Analyst
Year of graduation: 2019
Can you explain what Nordian Capital does?
Nordian Capital is a private equity firm active in the Dutch mid-market. To elaborate, we invest in growing and financially sought Dutch firms, which are often active on international scale. As shareholder, we try to enlarge these companies by restructuring them internally or to merge them with competitors and sell them at a net profit after a few years.
What are your main responsibilities?
As an investment analyst, it is my job to make an as honest as possible assessment of a company’s financial status. I gather information from instances such as the Dutch Chambre of Commerce (KVK) and look at trends in other markets. This I then summarize into a clear report and present this to our team.
What is a typical day (or week) like for you?
It is a job at a relatively small office, we have less than 20 team members. We always work in small teams when analysis a firm or company. As such I spend most of my time modelling a company financially and interviewing experts in that particular industry. I also spend time visiting said firms and meeting the management.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
As an undergraduate, Mechanical Engineering at the TU Delft seemed like the ideal choice for my future. However, after my first year as a bachelor student, I realised that the focus of mechanical engineering was not in line with my interests. I wanted more mathematical challenge and so I looked to other studies within and outside Delft. I decided to do a pre-masters in econometrics and found out that this was what I had been searching for.
What advice would you give a student who is considering this type of job?
Make use of all the different opportunities presented to you in Delft such as Delfste Bedrijven Dagen or Techniek Bedrijven. Being a student at the TU Delft you have a lot of options to visit different companies. Most of the time these events are very informative and fun. And even though you might not always find a particular company very interesting, you still have gained knowledge about your interests.
What do you like most about your work?
What I like about working at a private equity firm is that you are in direct contact with the management of quite big companies. We as a firm are almost always major shareholders, thus you are in contact with the CEO or CFO. This can be quite intimidating when you first start working but get used to over time. As a firm, we invest in a broad range of markets, which gives you the incentive to acquire knowledge of very specific processes. To elaborate, previously I have looked into the hand tool for mechanics industry, a company that produces printed circuit boards and even company that made bacteria strains for the production of cheese. To summarize, I look at my work as solving a puzzle but before you can start solving this puzzle you need to find the pieces themselves in sort a scavenger hunt. Furthermore, you are still competing against other investors or firms which creates a sort of auction feeling.
Is the study material still relevant to your daily occupations?
Not that much actually. But I do look back fondly on doing the core courses of the S&C masters. What I thought was really unique and I personally really liked was that all obligatory courses really for our master build upon another. On the one hand, this can be a downside, since if you haven’t mastered control theory after the first quarter, you will be lagging behind for the rest of the year. However, all this knowledge is required for the integration project which I found very interesting. I also thought the teaching staff to be very motivated and enthusiastic. They were approachable which gave me some fond memories of my time at the Tu Delft.
What was the title of your master thesis project and who was your supervisor?
I did my thesis work under the guidance of Bart de Schutter The title was “Coalitional game theory for increasing the energy efficiency of cellular networks
Name: Mees Al
Title: Floating offshore wind turbine control engineer
Year of graduation: 2020
Who was your master thesis supervisor?
Jan-Willem van Wingerden
What was the title of your master thesis project? If you want to you can provide a short abstract.
Feedforward control for wave disturbance rejection on floating offshore wind turbines
“Classical feedback control for floating offshore wind turbines has limited capabilities to reduce wave disturbances. Feedforward control uses a disturbance measurement, to construct an additional control law such that the disturbance is attenuated. The main objective of this work is to prove the concept of wave-FF control to attenuate wave disturbances. High-fidelity simulations demonstrate that FF control, based on wave measurements, is able to reject wave disturbances on the rotor speed effectively.”
Did you have a favourite S&C course?
My favorite S&C course was for sure the Integration project. Often I prefer the application over the academic work. This project was the first physical application of our studies, and I found it magical to put a controller into practice. For me, this was the incentive to work on floating wind turbines.
Do you have any great memories of studying system and control at the TU Delft you want to share?
Since the systems that we use in our studies are found anywhere, it often provided great analogies for real life issues.
For example, we described the interest in girls of one of our friends, as a step response on an underdamped second order LTI system. Starting at zero interest in other girls when his girlfriend broke up, it didn’t take long before he couldn’t talk about anything else (overshoot) , said to quit with girls (oscillation) ,and converged slowly to his new single equilibrium.
What does a regular workday look like for you?
Firstly, it is important to know that I work remotely from Delft for a German company. Currently I do this from home, and I’m looking forward to continuing this in a co-working space after corona.
On a normal day, we have the ‘heads up’ meeting in the morning with the whole team.
Because I work from home, most of the day can be planned in accordance with when I feel most energised. In the morning I concentrate on programming. We implement controllers from state-of-the-art in the wind industry. Thus, my main occupation is controller design. Just as in the integration project, I find it great to see how much improvement we can obtain by a smartly controlled actuator. But in contrast to the integration project, we now stabilize machines which may be almost as high as the Eiffel tower.
In the afternoon I like to collect most meetings: Often I have a few video-calls with colleagues and/or clients over the day. Because we are a small company, we get much individual responsibility and varying work. I feel like both the engineer and project manager of my main project.
In the afternoon we close the day with the heads down meeting.
Is the study material still relevant to your daily occupations?
Extremely relevant! Most of our controllers are based on the content of the Control Theory course. I am impressed by the fact that PI control is still the standard in this industry, and thus by how much the control-knowledge of a just-graduated S&C student is valued.
Do you have any advice for students pursuing a career in your field of work?
Make sure you make effort to find out what you like (within/without control engineering), include this in your thesis and steer your future path that way
Can students contact you?
Definitely! I am happy to discuss any thoughts and questions.
We are currently also looking for a master student who is excited to work on advanced control for floating wind turbines.