Alumni spotlight: Miriam Kuiper & Veerle Levering
A success story of painting pioneers
Water is an essential component in Scania Meppel, the Netherlands. In this factory, the trucks cabin parts are being painted and lacquered, and with it comes a lot of chemical-filled waste streams and water recycling. Alumni Miriam and Veerle are the pioneers who now play an essential role in the automotive company.
An opportunity – in more than one way – that is how alumni Miriam Kuiper and her successor Veerle Levering describe their job at Scania trucks. After their studies, the two found their way into the automotive industry’s chemical processing departments. The plant at Meppel is – amongst others – concerned with painting and lacquering the truck parts to the costumer’s desires, at which a lot of water comes into play. Great job, but one disadvantage – you can never look at your car like you did before. “You will spot every little detail of inaccuracy,” Veerle says.
Starting from scratch
Miriam started work at Scania three years ago through the recruitment company NextGen. “I would have scrolled past the vacancy if they did not approach me first. I never figured a water technologist would be of use in the automotive industry.” But feeling adventures, she decided to give it a shot. “My predecessor was long gone when I arrived, so I had to start from scratch. I had to prove myself and show the importance of proper water management. That was great, though. The Academy had given me a fictional backpack full of knowledge, and I got to try it out in the real world. Courses I never figured I would use, became central to my job – studying the ins and outs of surface tension, for instance. It was great fun. Wonderful to contribute to the spread of water technology knowledge and improve sustainability in a company that certainly does not seem directly like a green industry from outside.”
She was happy to share her knowledge with her coworkers and defend the importance of recycling water. But also, she developed a workshop of her own and developed plans to clean and save water. “It took some effort, but I gained the respect and fulfillment of my coworkers and their involvement in water technology.”
And satisfaction was shared by NextGen, the recruiter. “They really discovered the Wetsus Academy as a pool of great candidates, and I am very thankful for their opportunity. And as I was ready for a new challenge, I wanted to make sure someone else – suited for the job – could continue my work here.”
Passing the baton
Luckily, Veerle was up for the job. With the same background – in the chemical industry, Veerle seemed like a great substitute. And Scania agreed. The vision of a water technologist was what they needed. “With a good foundation, I now get to continue the goals set by Miriam. And more – as now there is more interest in water technology.”
By 2025, Veerle wants to save 40% of Scania’s water spending. “I have some ideas about getting there, but I am also curious how others would. That’s why I proposed this as a business case.” This program course lends itself perfectly for young technologists to study real-world applications of their knowledge.
It is to share an experience that you would otherwise not have. Miriam and Veerle agree: “To delve into a world you are unfamiliar with is a great challenge to pursue. That is what makes this job so good.”
Veerle will have a lot to look forward to in the automotive company, and Miriam has found a new realm to investigate – she now is a process engineer at SusPhos. At least for a couple of years, both can spend their time learning, improving, and bettering the world in the places they enjoy. And who knows, maybe Scania will then find a water technologist that can be the next successor.