TML'ers have their say! #1

In this section we would like to introduce you to our colleagues at TML. This way you get to know us a little better and discover what everyone within TML is doing. Recently we had a conversation with Joren and Jan!

We welcome Joren Vanherck!
Joren, don't keep us in suspense any longer, which wind blew you to TML?
TML appealed to me as a small, but growing company. I expected a pleasant atmosphere in which everyone is closely connected and approachable. That turned out to be true indeed! When I saw the vacancy for a traffic engineer, I immediately became enthusiastic: the position offers a good balance between high-quality research and great social relevance. However you turn it, everyone is confronted in their daily life with mobility and the related choices that are made in our society.

That's absolutely true ... And thank you for the compliment! What is your background?
I started my higher studies with a bachelor's degree in physics because I am always curious about how things work. To see how this knowledge is then applied in practice, I obtained my master's degree in civil engineering, more specifically nanosciences and nanotechnology. Since my hunger for research, new technology, and innovation had not yet been satisfied, I did four years of doctoral research in physics at Imec. I investigated the strange ferromagnetic properties of very thin (two-dimensional) materials. After obtaining my PhD, I immediately started at TML.

Your thirst for knowledge ... great! What are you most looking forward to?
After my doctoral research, which delivered useful technological innovations especially in the longer term, I look forward to doing research that has a direct impact on people's daily lives. I also hope that my interest in the latest technologies allows me to conduct research in an innovative way.

That's great to read, but tell us, what do you find most challenging about your job?
As a physicist, I am used to working with complex models and analysing data. Many of the traffic engineering models also resemble those from physics. The big complicating factor, however, is that human behaviour is not as easily cast into laws as opposed to non-living matter.

All our traffic experts will agree wholeheartedly. And on which topics will you be working at TML?
As a traffic engineer I will use both micro- and macroscopic traffic models to evaluate existing traffic problems and propose the best solutions. In addition, I will also conduct research to improve existing traffic models. At the moment I am taking courses in traffic engineering and transport modelling to brush up on my subject-specific knowledge. I also work on two projects. In one, the flow of public transport on a particular route must be improved. In the other project, we improve traffic models to better estimate the impact of emerging technologies such as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and automated vehicles on urban mobility.

Always staying sharp in terms of knowledge is indeed important. May we ask you another personal question?
Surely!

Modelling nature is fun, but what are your biggest hobbies?
I like to swim. After a whole day of mental activity, it is nice to be physically tired every now and then. Moreover, swimming is ideal for clearing your mind, without many external stimuli. I also enjoy cycling and walking (preferably in new environments) and I enjoy playing board and computer games.

Joren, thank you for this nice interview, we wish you an exciting career at TML!
Thank you!
And a warm welcome for Jan Vossen too!
Jan, tell us, which wind blew you to TML?
I was looking for a new job and by chance I saw the vacancy in my feed. I knew TML by name, through the Telraam project. The job content appealed to me, just like the material we work with here, and I took my chance. And so now I'm sitting here. Before that I worked for a few large companies, but a smaller organisation appealed to me more. The possibility to also work from home in non-corona times, and the mobility policy at TML, were also decisive for me to apply here.

That's nice to hear! What is your background?
I have a professional history in both the profit and the non-profit sector. I graduated in a social field in the early 90's and moved in a different direction along the way and got involved in graphic design.

What do you find most challenging about your job here at TML?
The most challenging at the moment is starting in these corona times. I started a little over four months ago and haven't met everyone who works at TML yet. I notice that communicating is easier when you can drop by someone and ask for some clarification. In addition, it is a completely new subject that I have to familiarise myself with. Fascinating, I am not afraid to learn.

We love that about you! And what are you most looking forward to?
What I'm most looking forward to: a first non-online team event.

We understand that completely. And what are you doing at TML?
I combine a few tasks: you can find me at the reception, I support my colleagues in administrative and logistics, and I am involved with the website. Looking to the future, I would like to further expand our online communication. I am thinking of using modelling software to illustrate our projects. I also want to make our webinars more publicised and I want to gauge whether there is interest in streaming our live events in the future.

We really appreciate that. Can we also ask a few more personal questions? We would like our readers to get to know Jan Vossen as a person outside TML?
Yes, of course!

Okay, here we go. Which musical instrument do you play and why?
I produce sounds with the help of keyboards, guitar, field recordings (but no splashing rivers or bird songs), a battery of external effects and software. A DIY synthesiser is on my bucket list. To most people the music I make does not fall under the category of danceable or 'feel-good' music. It's nice to spend hours fiddling with parameters, changing routings, and getting subtle changes.

You are no stranger to musical experiments. And what are your biggest hobbies besides those?
During the colder months I mainly deal with music-related matters, while in the spring and summer I spend a lot of time in my ecological vegetable garden. Reading is a constant, just like my weekly programme on Radio Scorpio.

Tell us, do you prefer to live in a city centre or rather in the suburbs?
After my studies I lived in the centre of Leuven for several years and that had its advantages. Now I have been living outside the centre for more than twenty years and I don't know if I can still miss my garden and the greenery around me.

And do you often use the car?
Only when necessary. We have bicycles with panniers, and we do our shopping as much as possible from the local dealers.

That is worth mentioning! Do you really enjoy cycling?
Yes! I may not be a person who crawls on my bike every free minute to get miles on the clock, but I really enjoy a bike ride. Preferably at a slow pace so that I can still enjoy what can be seen in the area. Usually I also bring a camera because there is always something interesting to see.

Jan, thank you for making time for us, and we hope to see you at work for many years to come!
You're welcome!
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