Maritime College Rotterdam (graduated in 2000), and University College Cork (present)
Bsc Nautical Science, Msc Marine Renewable Energy, and currently working on the PhD
Before stumbling into science I worked at sea mostly and eventually realized my child hood dream of becoming a captain
PhD researcher (which is fancy language for being a student)
MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, University College Cork
About Me: I am a PhD student, am hopelessly in love with my fiancee and enjoy tag rugby, surfing, photography and making music in my free time.
I am a 43 year old Dutchman and still a student (eek). When I say “still” I actually mean “again”. I used to work on ships all over the world for about 15 years but eventually gave up the seafaring when I met the love of my life, a beautiful Cork woman. I moved to Cork and decided that an engineering PhD in UCC would be the perfect pastime for all that free time I suddenly had on hands. Last October I proposed to said Cork woman and she, foolishly, agreed to marry me. That made me an extremely happy puppy!
Politics, I believe are a waste of time. Though if you have to brand me, I would say I’m liberal. I absolutely agree with Greta in believing that man-made climate change is the biggest crisis we face as a world population and need to act on it! I have started by installing solar panels, eating less meat and, when I have enough cash, I will buy an electric car.
My biggest hope for the near future, however, is for the Irish rugby team to trash the English, although we may have to wait a while for that. Rugby, what a sport though! Unfortunately, very few people in my motherland enjoy it, which was another very good reason for me to move to Ireland. I also love surfing, can’t ignore the sea completely. And I enjoy hiking the Kerry mountains, or anywhere where the ground rises higher than the dikes found back home.
I don’t own a TV but do enjoy watching stuff online. Binge watching is the correct term I believe. Have any of ye seen Ragnarok on Netflix yet? Brilliant stuff! I’ll also admit to secretly enjoying the odd episode of Love Island on the media player but we’ll keep that between you and me okay?
Other activities I enjoy are reading books, playing guitar and outdoor photography.
Hope that sums me up nicely.
P.S. Just to let you know not all Dutch people are 7′ tulip sniffing giants; I am only a mere 5’11” myself (no comment on the tulip sniffing)
My Work: The title of my PhD thesis is "Combined simulation of waves, wind and current in laboratory basins", which is fancy language for saying I am testing a scale model of a floating wind turbine in a wave pool.
I’m guessing most of you have seen big wind turbines on land (renewable energy, yay!), but now imagine that same wind turbine on a floating platform out at sea. It’s being battered by waves and wind, and current is dragging at its anchor chains. Safe to say that if the platform moves around a lot it will not be very healthy for the lifespan of the turbine. So if we are designing a platform for a floating wind turbine it has to be very stable.
Now before we put a very expensive turbine on a platform in the sea we want to know how much it is going to move around. To get an idea of this we first make a lot of very complicated calculations, or better yet, let a computer take care of all that tedious stuff. To check these calculations we build a small replica of the floating wind turbine (which is of course a lot cheaper to build than the real-life version) and put it in the wave pool.
The wave pool in the lab I work in can create waves, but we want to replicate all the conditions at sea so also wind and current. Unfortunately, the lab does not have machines to make wind and current. So how do we replicate all the conditions at sea?
That is what I am working on at the moment. To replicate wind I am sticking a drone on top of the model where the turbine blades would normally be.
Okay, let’s think about that for a second…
It’s a floating wind turbine, not a flying wind turbine, right? Correct! If I spin the propellers of the drone gently in the direction the wind would normally come from, it will move the model around the same way as the force of the wind normally would. Obviously I don’t want to spin the propellers too fast and lift the model out of the water. So I let the computer make a lot of tedious calculations for me again to tell me how fast I should spin the propellers. Lo and behold, we have wind!
For the sea current I let the computer calculate how hard the current would tug at the platform, but instead of actual current I let a pair of small winches with cables do the tugging on the model.
There you have it folks, that’s how we simulate wind and current in our lab. This method is called ‘hybrid testing’. We now have a cheap way of testing if a floating wind turbine (or any other floating object) will behave at sea the way engineers had designed it to.
Here you see the model in the wave pool. The drone sits on top of the mast.
My Typical Day: I usually get into work around 9:30 am and will either spend the day in the lab doing lots of exciting experiments or sit at my desk to do other (boring) PhD stuff. Around lunchtime I sometimes play tag rugby or soccer with my colleagues, or will just read the paper and have my cheese sandwich. Around 6:30 pm I usually go home again.
What I'd do with the money: If I win, I will use the money to build a small plexiglass demonstration wave pool that we can stick in the back of a car and bring around to schools or events like Seafest to show people what we do in our lab.
The little wave tank I would like to build will look something like the lad in this video is using:
He is doing a great job of showing how coastal defenses work, but I would also use the little wave tank to show how tiny models of wind turbines or wave energy machines work.
It has to be big enough to properly make waves but it will also have to be small enough to fit in a car so we can bring it around.
By the way, we are very happy to show the big wave tanks in our lab to students so maybe if you ask your teacher nicely they could make a nice school trip out of it…
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Despicable but handsome
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Pursue a career in science
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
The usual suspects; my dad and my fiancee
What was your favourite subject at school?
Geography and history
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Professional photographer. In fact, I was on my way to becoming one but science intervened
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Throw rocks at the Bermuda Triangle
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Settle down with the love of my life, surf a barrel, and fix climate change
Tell us a joke.
People ask me, "Are you an optimist?", and I say, "I hope so"