The dog trainer who became an R&D engineer

  • Student stories
HANZE220232 Erik de Kruiff Bollegraaf-2.jpg

Erik de Kruijff is an R&D engineer at Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions, an international company in the world of recycling technology. After a career as a dog trainer, he changed course and chose to study the Major Mechatronics. 'Thanks to the Hanze, I gained knowledge and experience that I still benefit from today.'

Dog School
'No, for an RD engineer, I don't have the most obvious background. Less than six years ago, I earned my living as a dog trainer. After an MBO course in animal care, I ran my own dog school for four years. A wonderful time, learnt a lot. But also hard work for little money. I wanted better future prospects.'

Major Mechatronics
'My eye fell on the Major Mechatronics course. Not everyone around me had seen that coming. It was a field that had interest, though. It is not only about hardcore electrical engineering, but also about being creative and working together. It made a difference that I had already had maths C, biology and physics at secondary school. The foundation was there.'

'I'm glad I chose the Hanze. I like to pass this on to other MBO graduates who want to make the step to hbo: It can be done, it is possible. Go for it!'

From MBO to HBO
'Studying at hbo is a bit different from studying at mbo. But, if you want to do it and have a clear goal, anything is possible. And you don't have to do it all on your own, eh. For instance, I set up a study club so we could help each other. I got all the support I needed from the Hanze. For example, my student counsellor helped me a lot - especially to get my studies going in the right direction.'

Special projects
'Working on assignments that matter: that really is the Hanze. For instance, I collaborated on a project to promote technology in primary schools. All schools in Friesland received a robot at school for this purpose. We helped think about the teaching programme and the application of that robot. The Hanze also offered plenty of opportunities to gain international experience. For instance, through the Honours programme I went to a Bang & Olufsen summer camp in China. And I made study trips to Romania, South Korea and South Africa.'

'After graduating, I was able to start work as an R&D engineer at Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions. We develop and produce recycling and sorting systems. In this way, I contribute to a circular world in which more and more raw materials are reused. One week I am in a factory somewhere in Europe solving a problem or implementing a new feature, the next I am working with programmers and mechanical engineers to develop a new system.'  

'Being creative, working internationally and making the world a bit more sustainable: what more could you want. I am glad I made this choice and persevered. I like to pass this on to other MBO graduates who want to make the step to higher vocational education. It can be done, it is possible. Go for it!'