Foto: Bart van Overbeeke
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A dinosaur robot in his hand and his gown on, that is Maarten Steinbuch during one of his children’s lectures. The professor at TU/e and entrepreneur likes to talk about the future of driving and the robots in healthcare and surgery. As one of our regular columnists, he also writes about it. He gave such a children’s lecture for the first time during the world championships of robot football in 2013 and he continued giving them. During the coming Dutch Technology Week three lectures will follow on June the 9th: in the morning at ASML, in collaboration with the Máxima Medical Center (MMC) Veldhoven, at noon at the Automotive Campus in Helmond and at three o’clock again at ASML.

The lectures are not only about technology, he also explains what a professor actually does. “Actually, it is just a teacher, but we have something extra. We can do research and we have special clothes.” Steinbuch always appears on stage wearing ordinary black trousers and a white blouse during his children’s lectures. In his suitcase, he has his gown, which he, along with the compulsory grey tie and the beret, puts on, on the stage: “‘Look, this is a professor,’ I say. And then I tell them that I can wear those special clothes on the university’s birthday and if someone gets their diploma.”


“We must help young people not only to be amazed in this world of rapid change but also to be inspired by all the possibilities that exist to solve real problems with technology”Maarten Steinbuch, Professor and entrepreneur

Inez van Poppel, marketing & community builder Automotive Campus, was at one of Steinbach’s childeren’s lectures before. “Last year the place was packed here during the Automotive Week. It is also fun for the parents. He explains to us, adults, a world that we do not always understand. He does so in understandable language and in a non-childlike manner.” Afterwards, the children can be photographed with the professor. “Then he looks like a pop star.”

June the 9th, Steinbuch gives two kinds of lectures as part of the High Tech Discovery Route. One is about how we will transport ourselves in the future and what will change in mobility and automotive technology and “that autonomous and electric driving the future is”. The other lecture is about robots in home care and surgery, that there are robots which “can operate 10 times more carefully than a surgeon”. Like the eye robot from Preceyes, a startup in which Steinbuch is closely involved.

“I explain how a robot actually works and how you can use it.” To show this he brings his cuddly dinosaur robot with him. “I tell that cars actually become robots too. They become electric and I show what the difficulty is and what so nice about electric driving is.” He has not really thought about how he will explain it all this time. Last year he showed with a bucket of water how much energy you can get out of petrol and how difficult it is to do that with batteries, he says.

“We must help young people not only to be amazed in this world of rapid change but also to be inspired by all the possibilities that exist to solve real problems with technology. Robots for home care, precision robots for surgery, or for sustainability in automotive technology.”

Understanding and trust that technology can really be used by mankind to solve big problems, that is Steinbuch’s message mainly. “The real impact of how quickly everything around us develops and what we can do with it is often not entirely known by adults.”

According to Steinbuch, these children’s colleges help to reach that awareness, but that is not his biggest motivation. “It’s just fun to do, no deeper thoughts. It’s nice to stand in front of young people, in my gown and to see all those smiling faces.”

For more information about the High Tech Discovery Route of 9 June, click: here