‘Connect young people with a youth delta programme’ | young professionals

Photo Martin Stam. Source: Private

How does the young professional Martine Stam see her field? And how does she see the future of the Delta program?

Martin Stam. Source: Private

What kind of work do you currently do and how did you end up here? And what appeals to you to do this work?

Water has always been a passion of mine. We lived at the bottom of the dyke in Hardinxveld-Giessendam and had a boat on the river. We also sailed and windsurfed and I was in the Rescue Brigade. With this background, it therefore felt like a logical choice to study Civil Engineering in Delft. In the master’s I specialized in hydraulic engineering and then entered the professional field. After the role of Flood Risk Advisor, I became an advisor and design coordinator at Sweco. In this role I am currently working on two major dyke improvements on the north and south sides of the Lek. On the south side, I work for the Water Board Rivierenland on the dyke between Streefkerk and Fort Everdingen (SAFE). On the north side, I work with a contractor combination on the dyke between Wijk bij Duurstede and Amerongen (Sterke Lekdijk line WAM).

Photo by JongNLengineers visiting WAM Sterke Lekdijk
Young NL engineers visit Sterke Lekdijk track WAM. Source: JongNLengineers

Levee improvement projects are usually integrated projects that move more towards an area design. As engineers, we ensure the most circular and sustainable design possible for this facility. It’s great when a dike design actually becomes a reality. Then it is tangible at once. Moreover, the value of social engagement in these projects is high. Water safety is and always will be very important in the Netherlands. Ensuring water safety is a mission that I will continue to undertake with great passion!

Delta commissioner Peter Glas was recently a guest on lecture tours at JongNLengineers at Maeslantkering. How was it? And what did he give you?

The format of the program gave us the opportunity to ask Peter all kinds of personal and substantive questions. About housing in low polders, his view of the future and his personal motives. ‘Connection’ was a frequently used word this afternoon. According to the young engineers present, connectivity ensures acceleration. By connecting transitions, we often only have to ‘enter the neighborhood’ once. The Delta Commissioner encouraged us to start with climate adaptation in every project. It’s great that the team I’m in is called Water Safety & Climate Adaptation from 1 January. And rightly so, because we constantly work with aspects such as circularity, integrality and sustainability in our projects.

What exactly does JongNLengineers do (and what goals does this organization have for the future)?

JongNLengineers is part of the trade association RoyalNLengineers. She represents the young professionals (20 to 35 years old) in the member offices and represents them in NLengineers. With JongNL engineers, we offer an interesting and inspiring network for young professionals within the sector, where learning, inspiration and interaction between engineering companies is central. With this network, the association carries the strength of the young colleagues. By showing that they look at future challenges with a fresh eye. We do this, among other things, by organizing the Doe & Dare Competition. Within this competition, young engineers develop creative and innovative solutions to current societal challenges.

Photo of the presentation of the manifesto of the young engineers in 2021 for a sustainable, vibrant future
Presenting the manifesto of JongNL engineers in 2021 for a sustainable, vibrant future. Source: JongNLengineers

Last year, together with the young engineers, we also wrote a manifesto for a sustainable, vibrant future (www.nlengineers.nl/manifest). Addresses the industry association, our own employers and politicians. In this manifesto, we indicate that now is the time for concrete action. For example, we state that ‘it is up to us, (young) engineers, to say no to projects where profit is the highest goal and where there is no positive contribution to the environment.’

How do you know about the Delta program? And how do you think the Delta program can seek and find more connections with young people?

The Delta program is the foundation of everything I do as a flood risk consultant. With our flood risk management team at Sweco, we work on various major projects under the Flood Protection Program (HWBP). The basis for this lies in the Delta programme. The aim of the HWBP is that by 2050 all primary flood defenses (large river levees) will meet the standards set out in the Water Act 2017. This is something I deal with every day. The Delta program itself is large and broad.

But precisely because of the size of the Delta program, it often remains abstract for young people. In order to find the connection, we must extract concrete points from the program that the young professionals can use. Examples make it more tangible. If we include this in a youth delta program or a film for schools, we make the connection much greater.

‘The tasks of the National Delta Program are all design issues that require great insight, creativity and knowledge.’

How can engineers contribute to the tasks of the National Delta Programme? What steps should be taken for this?

The tasks of the National Delta Program are all design issues that require great insight, creativity and knowledge. Engineers (agencies) are today at the beginning of any (integrated) design. They therefore play an enormous role in the challenges that lie ahead. These challenges will only become greater due to climate change. There is a need for many new colleagues who together bring a wide range of knowledge with them. Welcome to one of JongNLengineer’s activities and start the conversation!

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