Published on: 12 June 2017
Written by: Djamari Oetringer

Tell me something about you?
My name is Lars and I am a fifth year AI student. I’m in the board of CognAC where I have the most fun position of all, namely the one of “Chief of External Affairs”. I was born in Delft (ugh*) but grew up in Zutphen. Since 3 years I live in Nijmegen.

*note: the Author does not approve of the ‘ugh’ comment, as she finds Delft a very nice city

Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yes, I have one younger sister. She studies “Human Movement Sciences” in Amsterdam.


Do you see your family often?
No, I do not always feel like going home, also because I’m quite busy. In the weekends I often stay in Nijmegen or go to Groningen to visit my girlfriend

So you are now member of the board of CognAC. When did you decide to apply for this position and why?
To be honest I never really thought about joining the board for a long time. That was until Moira (who was at that times treasurer of CognAC) approached me in a break, asking whether I got any interests in becoming Chief of External Affairs. At that time I was part of the XC (External Committee), thus it seemed like a fun idea.

 In what other committees have you been before you joined the board?
Actually not that much, only the SC (Study Committee) and the XC. This year I joined the SymCo (Symposium Committee), the WebC (Website Committee) and did some sponsoring for the LoLCo (League of Legends Committee). Furthermore I’m since somewhere last year “Barbecue-meister” of CognAC, which is great because I’m a Vegetarian. 

Which committee do you like most of all?
Uuuhm, the XC.


Do you say that because you have to, as Chief of External Affairs?
No, I really like it. I joined the XC after I visited some random conference and met the boss of Microsoft of Western-Europe. We talked a bit and exchanged contact details. Afterwards Renate (chairwoman of the XC at that time) asked me whether I wanted to join the committee.


So what do you like most about being a board member?
The fact that we make a lot of things possible for the members and committees of CognAC. A lot of things wouldn’t be possible for them if the board didn’t facilitate those things. Furthermore I like the fact that I got more active within CognAC. Although I have the least social position of the board within CognAC, I’ve got to know more people of the association and join more activities. 

What do you have to do as Chief of External Affairs?
This year it has been decided that the chairman (Appie) maintains all the contacts within Nimma (thus the contact with all other study associations) and that I maintain the contact with everyone outside of Nijmegen. This means

that I am responsible for our sponsors, our place within LOKI (Landelijk Overleg KI) and SNIC (Stichting National Informatica Congres) and that I keep in touch with study associations of the AI studies of other universities in the Netherlands.

And what do you like most about your specific board position?
There are actually two things I like most about my function. First of all I enjoy the contact with the other AI study associations very much. The people there are equally crazy as the one’s of CognAC. Next to that I find it very interesting to see so much of the different AI-companies throughout the Netherlands. It is fun how they are all very differing from each other. Whereas some small companies are e.g. very ‘strict’ there are some other really big and successful companies who have the most relaxed and ‘free’ working ethics I’ve ever seen.

Does seeing all these different companies also help you in making choices for your future career?
To some extent I do. But my dreams/hopes really change every year. Now I would say that I want to work for a medium-sized company. Whether that would be as a programmer, a data-scientist or something different I do not know yet. Sometimes I also think about studying Physics once I finished my Master here. I’m just really impressed about the things SpaceX and Blue Origin do, and would love to get in there. But the chances of getting in are much higher when you have a degree in Physics, rather than AI.

Okay, so you are doing you master now..? What master are you doing and when do you expect to graduate?
I am doing the AI master, with the “Web & Language Interaction” track. And uuhm about the time I graduate: Someday. I guess within 1,5 or 2 years I should be finished, but first I just focus on this board-year.

So what is the thing you like least about doing a board year?
Mmh, I guess that would be the fact that there is sooo much to do at one point and you are constantly busy. Everything actually starts of quite okay, but then more and more things start to pile up and at some point there isn’t much free time left. Luckily I am not the only one experiencing it like this, every board member goes through this.

And what do you do in the free time that you have got left?
Often I just sit back and relax to be honest. I like to watch some series, and occasionally I play “Kerbal Space Program”. That is a fun game where you have to build your own spacecraft and plan missions to different planets. Hence my increased interests in SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Okay, maybe we should wrap it up now. What is the last thing you want to tell your CognAC fans?
Sappy or not sappy?

Whatever your heart tells you to do.
CognAC is nice. Peace out.