Dr. Nima Tolou (35), university lecturer in precision mechatronics at Delft University of Technology was selected this week for the 2018 Engineer of the Year Award. He received the Prins Friso Engineering Award from jury chair Micaela dos Ramos, director of the Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers (KIVI). The award ceremony took place at the University of Groningen in the presence of the Dutch Royal Princess Beatrix and Princess Mabel.

‘Nima Tolou is a naturally inquisitive engineer with the capacity to tackle social challenges in a scientific way, and then convert them into breakthrough technologies. He recognises challenges and combines them into interesting research that makes the world a better place,’ says Dos Ramos in her report.

Master of minuscule movements

Dr. Nima Tolou (35) gained his doctoral degree at the Biomechanical Engineering faculty of Delft University of Technology. He developed a new drive mechanism for a mechanical Zenith watch that attracted a lot of attention. Tolou now wants to use that mechanism as an energy harvester in sensors, thus working on the future of the Internet of Things – once there is movement, the oscillator converts that into power. Tolou is co-founder of the Flexous start-up that specialises in developing new concepts for mechanical watches.

Public award for gas cleaner Jan Klok

Winner of the public vote was Dr. Jan Klok (34), Principal Technologist at Paqell and Scientific Project Manager at the Wetsus water research centre. He studied biotechnology at Wageningen University and gained his doctoral degree on the removal of sulphur compounds from gas. He used bacteria to develop a purification method that results in far fewer hazardous by-products.

Bridge innovator Sander den Blanken

The third finalist for the Prins Friso Engineering Award was Sander den Blanken. Den Blanken (44) is a civil engineer and as CEO of Arup Nederland, leads complex infrastructural projects. He focuses on improving the knowledge base related to the infrastructure that is so vital to the Netherlands, and on coming up with innovative solutions.

Rising talent Korné Walhout

From the list of nominated engineers, Korné Walhout (28) was selected as the up-and-coming talent. He worked as civil engineer on sensational projects, such as salvaging the cruise ship Costa Concordia, and restoration of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten after it was wrecked by hurricane Irma. Together with his brother, he also set up an engineering consultancy that already boasts prestigious clients.

Prince Friso Engineering Award

The Prince Friso Engineering Award is presented by the Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers (KIVI) each year. Shortlisted for this award are engineers who have distinguished themselves in their work in relation to the following four competences:
• Expertise: analytical capacity, conceptual thinking, technical ingenuity
• Innovative capacity: a clear vision and distinguished work
• Entrepreneurship: initiative, ambition and courage
• Societal impact: social awareness and involvement in social matters.

The prize is named after Prince Friso, a mechanical engineer in aerospace technology and also a business economist. He had a strong interest in the interface between technology and organisation. He was for instance one of the Directors of TNO Space, co-founder of the MRI centre in Amsterdam and Chief Financial Officer of Urenco. He was also actively involved in organisations that promote the importance of technology, including KIVI, Jet-Net and the Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends (STT). He passed away in 2013 at the age of 44 following a tragic skiing accident.

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