The university campus is a lot less crowded during summer, but that does not mean nothing is happening. Hidden in a corner of the parking lot of Unifarm is one of the most creative spots on campus: the machine workshop Tupola. This is the birthplace of unique equipment and setups for scientific research and education.
© Didi de Vries
It is the perfect work place for Eltje Groendijk, instrument maker at Tupola. He has been working there since 1997, and a lot has changed over the years. Twenty years ago, the workshop was still a part of the DLO Foundation. It has since become an independent company that mainly fulfils orders for the university, although it also does the odd job for other employers. ‘Each project is a welcome one; we have to provide for ourselves’, says Groendijk.
Despite all the changes, Groendijk still enjoys working in the workshop: ‘The variation of jobs provides a lot of fun. One client will come with a scribbled drawing and a vague idea, while another will know exactly what they want. You help in the thinking process, make a drawing and eventually end up with a finished product that the client can use. In a large factory, you are turner, miller or a welder. Here, you perform all disciplines and on all materials – whether it is wood or metal. Places like this are become scarce.’
For Groendijk, it is no punishment to live in a staff residence next to the campus. ‘I walk to work and can be home in a flash. I don’t experience traffic jams’, he says. When he arrived in Wageningen in 1997, there were only two small bungalows and a workshop on the parking lot between Radix and Unifarm. ‘I also had the possibility to go there in my free hours to do some tinkering. If the weather was bad, I would often go with my children. I even once built a quad for them. It contains the old moped engine of the Puch Maxi my wife had. Those were really great times, but all this is not allowed anymore.’
This does not stop the instrument maker from tinkering with his motorcycle at home, although he does not drive very often anymore. ‘When we arrived here, I drove every week. There were some very pleasant and quaint causeways along the dykes. That was some great steering in a beautiful scenery. It has changed into one long row of speed limits and speed bumps. They place speed bumps in the most beautiful spots. I’m sick of it. They also regularly check for speeding, and I do like to open the throttle a bit.’