Can you describe what you do?
I’m one of the 10,000 students you see cycling around in Leuven. Besides working on a Master’s degree in Engineering and a Postgraduate degree in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, I’m also an active member of the Punch Powertrain Solar Team. We are a team of 21 passionate students, designing and building a car running solely on solar energy. Our goal? Short term, to compete against top-ranking universities from all over the world during the World Solar Challenge 2017, a race of 3,000km through the Australian outback (and hopefully bring back a trophy to Leuven!). On the long term, we want to show the world all that is possible with renewables, and raise interest for science and technology amongst youths. We bring together an extensive network of companies, the University, colleges and high schools, families and friends around our project. I have spent a lot of time with all these people these past few months, in in our office in Heverlee in our Vaartkom workshop, in the city centre with friends, and even all over Belgium at the companies that support us. They’ve taught me that anything is possible – if you can imagine a better future, then you should try to build it.
How do you perceive Leuven? How would you say has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today?
Leuven’s a rather small, safe city with a very rich history. The University is centrally located in the city, which gives it a young and dynamic allure, especially during the week (Leuven has a more family-mood during the week-end). A beautiful car-free city centre, lots of cosy spots and everything you need within a range of a 20 minutes’ walk. Not bad! You’ll find a soothing, calm atmosphere here, with people cycling around on the cobbled streets or enjoying a drink on a terrace. That’s my “Welcome Home” picture of Leuven.
The high concentration of diverse yet like-minded, motivated, and ambitious people around me in Leuven has all contributed to who I am today – it’s a great environment in which I’m able to develop.
To compete against top-ranking universities from all over the world during the World Solar Challenge 2017, a race of 3,000km through the Australian outback (and hopefully bring back a trophy to Leuven!).
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Leuven?
In general, a laid-back, sunny day (weather permitting, of course) where it’s all about enjoying the little things. A walk around Groot Begijnhof’s cobbled streets, along the Dyle or through the parks next to Arenberg Castle. Enjoying a coffee in one of those hip spots in the city centre like CoffeeCup, sniffing around vinyl records at Giraffe or Bilbo Records. Having dinner and enjoy a special beer at Bar del Sol-esque places. By night, just going to Oude Markt and picking a pub to meet and chat, or dance all night long. But if I could only pick one spot, I’d have to go with a sunset classic. A good friend of mine showed me this one great spot, with a superb view of Park Abbey, where you can enjoy the sunset in silence. Peace of mind guaranteed.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?
The Oude Markt, also known as “the longest bar in the world”, has just so many bars crammed next to each other that the square transforms into one huge terrace in the summer. You’re bound to find a bar serving your favourite drink or playing your kind of music. A great spot for meeting friends.solarteam.be