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Meet our pioneer: Meike Wijnhoven

In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. So we’d like you to meet one of our pioneers: Meike Wijnhoven.


In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. So we’d like you to meet one of our pioneers: Meike Wijnhoven.


Who are you?

My name is Meike Wijnhoven, I am 18 years old and I live in Sevenum.

What education are you doing?

I am now in my third year, the final year, or MBO level 3 First Mechanic Mechatronics at ROC ter AA in Helmond. It is a fairly broad training. It ranges from working with metal, on the machine or manually, and welding to the assembly and disassembly of parts.

Why did you choose this study?

It's not that I played with cars as a little girl. On the contrary! I used to play with dolls. I wanted to become a teacher, but I didn't know what I wanted to teach. At my high school, I had an American technology teacher who sometimes had trouble translating English technical terms into Dutch. I started to help him with this and that is how I eventually became much more interested in engineering. My father also works in mechatronics - he also did construction - so this wasn’t an illogical choice.

"It's not like I played with cars as a little girl. On the contrary! On the contrary, I played with dolls."

Meike Wijnhoven

How did your environment react to your choice to study mechatronics?

My parents and sister were very supportive. My father was even proud of it because he also works in the same field. My mother still doesn't fully understand what I’m doing, but she is of course very happy for me.

Do you want to continue studying after this?

When I am finished with this study I want to go to Techniekcentrum Brainport in Deurne to do the specialization in Machining. That is a two-year education, but I hope to do it in one year because I already have a diploma at the same level. During this study, you learn more about controlling and programming machines with which you work on metal.

I also noticed during my current training that it is quite broad: you learn about many aspects of mechatronics. But I would like to immerse myself in machining. I want to learn more and get a better basis, so I can work more independently. I also realized that at one point I was getting a little stuck in learning at school. There they often work with older machines and during my internship, at Vullings Metaalbewerking in Horst, they work with much newer machines. That contrast was too big for me and unfortunately, it worked a bit demotivating as soon as I had to go back to school.

What exactly do you do at your internship company?

At Vullings Metaalbewerking we mainly work with CNC-controlled machines. These are computer-controlled machines that process metals and non-metals. I discovered here that I like machining. I stand at both a lathe and a milling machine, operating and adjusting them. Sometimes I can do this all by myself, and sometimes I need help. Then I get the help I ask for. On Saturdays, I also work here, as my side job.

What is it like for a girl to work in a rather man's world?

It took some time to get used to it in the beginning. It’s difficult for a girl to end up in a man's world. You don't talk about the things you normally talk about with other girls. And the men also had to get used to suddenly having a woman in the workplace. I've heard that two years ago before I arrived, the conversations were a bit different, more outspoken so to speak. And the age difference is also quite big. I'm 18 and most men are 30 or older. But I feel very much at home. I belong here completely.

"I would really like to get students excited about technology. But I don't want to become a teacher just for the sake of it, because then I'm afraid I'll fall behind on the developments within engineering."

Meike Wijnhoven

What do you want to do later?

When I have finished my study, I would like to work. It would be great if I could do that at Vullings because there are lots of opportunities there. But eventually, I would like to become a supervisor, for example at an intermediate vocational school. I would like to make students enthusiastic about technology. But I don't want to be just a teacher, because then I'm afraid I'll fall behind the developments in technology. I also want to be on the work floor. Another thing that attracts me is teaching courses abroad because I also like languages so much. I wouldn't want to live there, but giving a course now and then seems like fun.

What do you find important about a later job?

The most important thing is that I feel good about myself, that I enjoy myself. For a woman in a man's world, it's just really different. I want to belong and have fun at work.

I also think it is important to keep learning. If I don't educate myself regularly, I can't teach the students enough.

What do you think about studying in Brainport Eindhoven?

It strikes me that it's all a bit more gentle and sociable in Limburg. But I feel perfectly at home here.

What would you like to tell other girls who want to go into engineering?

I always tell the girls: Don't be prejudiced based on your own preconceptions. These can also hinder you like you don't do something or don't dare to do something, because perhaps it 'shouldn't be done. But you really shouldn't look at that. You have to go into it with full positivity. Then it is going to be good!