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MIT SDM visits the Brainport Eindhoven region with a full program on System Engineering

The Brainport Eindhoven region welcomed 30 experienced professionals in leading positions within their organizations, including the MIT System Design Management faculty staff from Boston, on March 27th, 28th, and 29th 2024.

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

18 April 2024

The Brainport Eindhoven region welcomed 30 experienced professionals in leading positions within their organizations, including the MIT System Design Management faculty staff from Boston, on March 27th, 28th, and 29th 2024.

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

18 April 2024

The goal of the visit was to see and experience the applications of systems engineering in the Dutch high-tech equipment industry in the Brainport region. The Brainport region is one of Europe's most innovative tech hubs and a key player in the systems engineering field. The region is home to leading world players in systems engineering and is one of the top places for talent and professionals to work for companies in this field worldwide.

To start their journey and participation, the students of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) received an introduction outlining the NXTGEN Hightech Systems Engineering project. This project aims to bring the competence of Systems Engineering in the context of the high-tech equipment industry in the Netherlands to the next level. NXTGEN HIGHTECH is a broad national consoirtum. Not surprisingly, quite a few consortium partners come from the Brainport tech hub due to its collaborative nature, which the participants also got to experience. 

The participants came from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia (Japan), working for companies like Amazon, Apple, Toyota, Chevron, and John Deere. They visited VDL ETG, ThermoFisher, Holst Centre, ASML, and Philips. The companies the participants visited are all part of the Brainport tech cluster, thriving independently while working together to bring forward the next innovations in system engineering. With these visits, the MIT participants witnessed the true DNA of the Brainport region: collaboration and tech innovation to solve societal challenges on a national and international scale.


The tour through the Brainport region kicked-off at VDL ETG. Here, the MIT faculty staff and students were treated to an introduction to the company and received its technology overview. In three separate groups, they got a factory tour, a meet-up with VDL ETG engineers and were able to present themselves. Ton Peijnenburg (CTO) and Jos de Klerk (Senior System Engineer) were participating on behalf of VDL ETG.

“It's been some time since we had such an engaged and inquisitive group visiting VDL ETG. Throughout all discussions, there was a palpable background of systems thinking which made our interactions very much worthwhile. It was a true pleasure!”
– Ton Peijnenburg, CTO at VDL ET


After this morning company visit, the entire group was welcomed at ThermoFisher in the afternoon, where they received a presentation on system architecture. The in-depth questions following the presentation led to an interesting discussion. Next to that, the visitors got a tour through the R&D lab with ThermoFisher’s hightech microscopes.

For ThermoFisher, Joost Dierkse (manager R&D on System Architecture) and Luigi Mele (manager R&D) were present to guide the group. They were both very enthusiastic about the visit.

“A very successful visit to our Eindhoven facilities in which our Systems Engineering challenges were discussed.”
– Joost Dierkse, Manager R&D on Systems Architecture at ThermoFisher

TNO Holst Centre and PhotonDelta

The next day, the group of MIT went to High Tech Campus Eindhoven where they were split up in two groups. This way, there was as much cross-disciplinary knowledge uptake as possible.

One half of the group spent the morning at TNO’s Holst Centre learning about materials science, electronics, and health-tech, presented by Onno Huiskamp (manager strategic relationships).

The other half of the group went to Eindhoven University of Technology to learn about the PhotonDelta initiative, provided with insights by Jorn Smeets (CMO & Board Member).


In the afternoon, the visitors were welcomed at ASML by Colette Legein (Group Lead DUV System Engineering) and Jowan Jacobs (Senior Manager DUV System Engineering). After the tour through the Experience Center, the MIT students received a deep dive into the opportunities of Systems Engineering at ASML and got the chance to have in-depth discussions with like-minded System Engineers.

“Witnessing the vibrant energy, curiosity, and insightful questions from our visiting students, reminds me that true success lies in the enthusiasm for learning, the preparedness to explore and the genuine interactions that ignite a passion for technology and systems engineering.”
– Jowan Jacobs, Senior Manager DUV System Engineering at ASML

Philips Healthcare

The last day of the MIT SDM visit started at Philips Healthcare. Where everyone got a plenary introduction to the business unit by Gert van Schothorst (Principal Systems Engineer). Immediately after, the group started a tour at Philips Healthcare Modalities, hosted by the Systems Engineering Excellence team. The discussion ranged from the inner workings of advanced medical systems to what is the role of System Engineers.

“This group of MIT SDM really had outstanding questions throughout the visit at Philips Healthcare in Best. We had a very insightful discussion on how to apply Systems Engineering in a regulated environment, where we could learn from participants in oil & gas industry, but also from agro-tech and renewable energy domains, on how we as Systems Engineers could deal with regulators and notified bodies.”
– Gert van Schothorst, Principal Systems Engineer at Philips Innovation Engineering

TNO-ESI and Brainport Eindhoven

The last event of the visit was a discussion forum, facilitated by NXTGEN Hightech, Brainport Development, and TNO-ESI. The interaction between the project partners of NXTGEN Hightech and the MIT students led to capturing similarities, differences, and surprises between SDM and the Dutch Systems Engineering approach.

Reflection on company visits

The program ended with a free discussion among the MIT students on the challenges and opportunities they see for the NXTGEN Systems Engineering project based on their company visits and reflections on the SDM education program.

The visit was inspiring according to the comments of the participants. The students were particularly appreciative of the hightech melting pot and connected community of the triple helix ecosystem on Systems Engineering of education, companies and governmental institutions in the Brainport region. They mentioned the unique hightech innovation on complexity and calculated risks.