First Engineering Doctorate (EngD) class started

Wageningen has a new education programme focusing on design.
[foto] EngD-candidates during the introduction. Photo Design for Agrifood & Ecological Systems

The new two-year post-masters is called Design for Agrifood & Ecological Systems. The first group of ten students began their programme on Monday, 23 January.

Femke Brouwercoordinates the new programme. ‘EngD is a programme that can be followed after completing a master’s, much like a PhD. A PhD focuses on acquiring new scientific knowledge, while EngD is all about applying existing and new scientific knowledge to design practical technological solutions. In short: PhD students conduct fundamental research, while EngD students apply fundamental knowledge to design practical solutions.’

Design versus dissertation

The EngD-programme spans two years and is made up of 120 ECTS, half of which are awarded for training and education while the other half is awarded for developing a design, which is also the final deliverable (instead of a dissertation). The design assignments are real design requests made by, for example, businesses, governments, NGOs and education and research institutes wanting to find solutions to practical issues. Each EngD student is mentored by one of the group’s experts.  

‘The first part of the programme focuses on education, enabling the AngD candidates to acquire knowledge that will later serve them in achieving their design’, Brouwer states. ‘They select courses that match their design ideas. Someone wanting to design machines, for example, will select a course on robotics, while someone wishing to design computer models may choose a course on big data.’ As the programme progresses, the focus on designing is increased. ‘A design can be anything: from a computer model to a robot.’


Similar programmes are already being offered at other technical universities, Brouwer explains. ‘Wageningen did not yet have such a programme. Eindhoven has been offering a programme like this for 35 years in different forms.’ Brouwer considers the programme an excellent addition to Wageningen’s range of programmes. ‘A post-master focusing on design and engineering that produces a practical result.’

The first class has completed the three-day introductory programme and has embarked on the first of two mandatory courses: Principles of Design. ‘This course has been designed specifically for the EngD programme’, Brouwer declares. The other compulsory course is Grasping Sustainability, facilitated by WIMEK and PE&RC.

Broad approach

The programme name —Design for Agrifood & Ecological Systems— hints at the broad approach. ‘In Eindhoven, they offer a wide selection of small, separate programmes. We have opted for a broad programme that allows you to participate from various backgrounds, such as Environmental Sciences, Food Sciences, Social Sciences, Animal Sciences or Plant Sciences.’ The first ten EngD-candidates are a diverse group. ‘There are young students who have just obtained their master’s, but also a student with 25 years of working experience. Most of the candidates are Dutch, but we also have students from Iran, France and Mexico.’

Interested students can join at any time during the year.

Want more information on the EngD-programme? Send an email to

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