NXP works closely with universities and colleges across the world to support the next generation of innovators. After all,
bringing bright minds together is embedded in our vision as a company. Teamwork and cross-company collaboration helps us connect those bright minds,
bringing them in contact with the resources and technologies they need to overcome the challenges ahead.
L-R: Jari van Ewijk, Peter van der Perk, Gino Knubben in the student team corner at NXP Showroom Eindhoven.
For a team of bright young stars in Eindhoven’s University of Technology (TU/e), the latest challenge was reaching the off-road solar car, the Sahara, in an off-road solar car they built themselves (with a little help from NXP).
Solar Team Eindhoven
(STE), is one of the ten teams across the Netherlands supported by NXP in 2023. Here we speak with two of the team leaders from NXP who provided invaluable support to the student teams.
Behind the scenes, Gino Knubben, Senior Principal System Engineer at NXP, served as the technical lead and contact for the
student team. He is supported by Jari van Ewijk, Junior Automotive System Engineer, Peter van der Perk, Embedded Software Engineer, and a rotating team of around ten colleagues from across the company, both senior and junior, including STE alumni who
are now working with NXP.
Bright minds. Bright futures. NXP team members create breakthrough technologies that advance our world. The future starts here.
NXP: What kind of support does NXP offer student teams?
Gino: Over the past year alone, we have supported ten student teams in the Netherlands. In Eindhoven, we worked
URE. In Delft we supported
Forze Hydrogen Racing and
Hyperloop, and in Twente,
Superbike Twente. As a sponsor from the beginning
of STE in 2012, NXP has been technically involved with all of the teams.
Stella Terra Solar Team Eindhoven powered by NXP
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NXP: What NXP technology is involved in these projects?
Gino: We use and offer technology from every area of NXP. The exact products involved will depend on the
design. For the Stella Terra, the focus is on automotive, but different student projects will make use of technologies from
other business and product lines.
NXP: How does the student contact work in practice, how do they 'get their hands' on NXP technology?
Jari: With colleagues from NXP’s CTO/System Innovation, we coordinate student requirements for development kits,
reference designs and IC samples. There is great support from colleagues across the various product lines and of course NXP’s
NXP: How do you determine what’s needed for a project like this?
Gino: For students, discovery and learning is a major part of these projects, so we don’t offer complete
solutions or do the work for them. In that sense, we offer support rather than implementation. After a first introduction call
or visit, we will engage with the electrical team and start looking at their first block diagram. This way we align on potential
NXP technologies and components.
The teams then work out their specific solution, based on their needs and deadlines. In the case of Stella Terra, this was two
years to build an off-road vehicle that would run under harsh conditions with intense heat. From there, we provide the development
kits and initial software, depending on the capabilities and balance of their team between software-, electrical- and mechanical
NXP: What should students already know before using NXP technology?
Gino: It is important that they acquaint themselves with our technology and our tools –
S32 Design Studio.
Jari: This will generally be the first time that they will be dealing with professional tools, which can be
quite complex, since they are used by professional engineers to create real-life products and systems. But the students also
give us some valuable feedback about our tools, from a different perspective to what we would get from colleagues. That helps us
to keep those tools as approachable as possible.
Solar Team Eindhoven, (Photo: Bart van Overbeeke).
NXP: Is there anything that NXP doesn’t help with in these projects?
Gino: Of course. We have to make it clear to students that NXP is a Tier2 company: we offer them development
kits, silicon and software. We don’t for instance offer complete devices or ECUs, which are Tier1 products. So, for projects
that would use radar or LIDAR technology for instance, we wouldn’t offer radar development kits, which are incredibly complex.
In that case, we steer them to one of our customers, where they can find a complete radar that uses NXP technology.
NXP: What do you personally learn from supporting these teams?
Jari: I was on one of these student teams, for the
BlueJay project, so I do know something about that side of things. I was already working on hardware and software, and afterwards I
joined NXP as a working student. Now I work full time here, so I can offer support for the teams and that has really helped me
to grow in a mentorship role.
Gino: I have been with NXP for 29 years. I love working with students and being energized by their creativity,
watching them solve problems, trying out new and crazy things (safely). I like to support them developing their career, their
network, and these projects are vital platforms for their growth. I have grown through support from other people, and that is
something I want to pass onto others, helping them to grow. This whole enterprise is such a team effort within NXP, from across
the BLs, PLs and sales, we have learned to choreograph the support of these students by each offering the help we can.
Continued Support From NXP
Each time the Stella team faces a new challenge, NXP has been behind the scenes, working with students who are on a positive
trajectory to a rewarding career. Who knows, maybe like Jari and others before him, their next step might be through NXP’s doors
for a full-time position, helping create breakthrough technologies that make the connected world better, safer and more secure.
Full coverage of the Stella Terra can be found on the
student team’s pages. Other coverage includes
CNN and the UK’s Guardian newspaper,
A Consistent History of Success
Solar Team Eindhoven created Stella – “the world’s first solar-powered family car” – back in 2012. They raced it to victory in
the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (WSC), a 3,000km race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia, repeating their success in
2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Since the first Stella, the STE team
has diversified . First with Stella Lux
(the “energy-positive family car”), Stella Vie (the “world’s first road-legal solar-powered family car), the Stella Era (an
energy-sharing solar car as power-plant on wheels) and the Stella Vita (a self-sustaining house on wheels).