Willem Veldhuizen

Trainee Willem researches AI in construction: 'A collaboration between humans, machines and systems'


Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotisation have become almost ubiquitous. Digitalisation also offers plenty of opportunities in construction and infrastructure. Willem Veldhuizen, an intern at the Digitalisation and Innovation Department (DTI), delves into how we can use robotisation and artificial intelligence in our daily work.

Willem is in his second year of studying Industrial Engineering at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. "I always had a specific fascination for construction and engineering. After getting my Pre-university education diploma, I made a conscious decision to choose higher professional education instead of university. I am not necessarily someone who wants to sit behind a desk all day, but I want to learn by doing," says Willem. And that 'learning by doing' is not only reflected in his hobby of building and carpentry at weekends, but also in his internship at Ballast Nedam.

What is it like to do an internship here?

"At Digitalisation & Innovation, you work in an umbrella department which means you have a lot of contact with different business units within the organisation. I am involved in everything and feel taken seriously. As a result, I feel more like an employee than an intern," he explains. In addition to his research into the use of artificial intelligence in construction, Willem went out as a foreman at Heddes to also gain experience on the construction site.

Internship supervisor and project manager of the DTI department Hidde van der Eijk: "Willem immediately came across as sociable, open and enthusiastic. Because of his enthusiasm, I also made sure he could work as a supervisor. That is not standard in such an internship, but you learn more when you are working on sites as well as in the office. It gives you an understanding of where and how you work within the organisation. During our first consultation, we shaped this internship together based on what Willem likes to do: not only looking for challenges on paper, but also being practical."

"It works well to give an intern their own responsibilities. And also let them learn that it's okay to make mistakes. By being set free in the beginning and maybe bumping into things a few times, you learn an awful lot. It is also important to treat interns as you would like to be treated yourself. And to realise that an intern really enriches the team through their fresh, open and young perspective on a company."

Willem: "I immediately felt a click during the introductory meeting with Hidde. I think it's important that when you start working somewhere for a longer period of time, the atmosphere is good and the colleagues are nice. Hidde taught me how to function within a large company, how to create structure and what the work looks like that I will do later on. But also how to create a balance in having a pleasant working atmosphere and still achieve things."

What is the purpose of the internship?

Willem's assignment from Utrecht University of Applied Sciences is a work experience internship resulting, after six months, in an improvement proposal for BIM software Dalux. Dalux is an innovative software application designed to simplify construction project management and make it more efficient.

"It is up to me to investigate how the implementation of this software is going, and how we can promote it," explains Willem. 'Hogeschool Utrecht wants to see a ready-made plan at the end of my internship for what to do if Dalux does get implemented more widely. In preparation, I attended and later gave a Dalux training course at Ballast Nedam West. I also spent a day at Laudy to see how Dalux is used on a daily basis. This taught me how to create support, involve and hook people. But I also learned to know and recognise business processes. In the end, everything stands or falls with processes."

For the rest, Willem says that the internship gave him good insight into the work as a technical business manager. "I now know exactly what I want to do later on. With the good conditions and the nice atmosphere within Ballast Nedam, I am positive about the organisation. Perhaps there will be opportunities for me to work here in the future."

Are you also interested in an internship like this?

If you got excited, check out all internship and graduate positions at Ballast Nedam.