Are you interested in the intersection between structural design, parametric modelling, finite element analysis, computational optimization, architecture and/or sustainability? ir. Diederik Veenendaal is offering to supervise two students who are interested in doing research in these domains, and who are similarly passionate and curious about structures. If you feel that he or Summum Engineering can add specific value to your experience as a graduate student, you are invited to reach out to him.

Summum Engineering is offering both TU/e and TU Delft to (co-)supervise/mentor one graduate student each on an annual basis. The student is provided with a workspace at Summum Engineering’s office in Het Industriegebouw near Rotterdam Blaak, for one or more days per week.

Not from these two institutes? But interested nonetheless? Feel free to contact us to discuss possibilities!


Summum Engineering is open to discuss and help develop your own proposal for a topic. Of course, the final proposal has to be approved by a supervising teacher/professor at your institute. We also maintain our own list of potential topics in the areas mentioned above, which include unlisted ones and the following listed ones:

The following topics are specifically offered:

Bioshotcrete: mechanical properties of (thin-shell) wattle and daub applied by drones

Over the past three years, Stephanie Chaltiel of the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalonia (IaaC) and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) has been investigating the use of digital technologies in conjunction with earth construction, with research developed through the Innochain network. One of the outcomes is the ongoing Bioshotcrete project, which borrows principles of shotcrete and wattle and daub while using exclusively natural local materials and making the most of robotic and drone technology. Large robots or drones are deployed in order to spray different layers of clay mix (daub) on a lightweight formwork (wattle). The work is continuing in the form of increasingly ambitious applied workshops and prototypes. The use of wattle and daub poses challenges in the context of contemporary building codes and construction practices.

The student is asked to investigate the material properties of such natural materials, through literature study and material testing. If possible, the influence of spraying and drone technology is evaluated. Results are presented through the framework of Eurocode’s “design assisted by testing”, which outlines how available information can be used through statistical methods during design. If successful, the work will be applied to actual Bioshotcrete projects.

Expertise will be available through the involvement of the following expert panel:

  • Stephanie Chaltiel (IaaC, UPC, Barcelona, Spain) as lead investigator;
  • Wilfredo Carazas (CRAterre-ENSAG, UNESCO, Grenoble, France) regarding earthen architecture and construction;
  • (an expert on earthen materials is being contacted, but is to be confirmed);
  • Hans Laagland (Witteveen+Bos, Deventer, Netherlands) regarding structural engineering and design assisted by testing; and,
  • Diederik Veenendaal (Summum Engineering) regarding structural design, shell structures and parametric modelling.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For this project, Summum Engineering is a research partner, and may or may not act as a thesis supervisor. The student is expected to form a thesis committee at his/her institute after the expert panel is informed and the lead investigator accepts the students’ application. Please contact us for further details.

Re-imagining the Basento Bridge: A large scale cable-net formwork for concrete shell bridges.

The idea of using a prestressed cable-net as formwork for a concrete shell has been applied up to 9m spans (see the NEST HiLo project page), and historically for even larger scales, up to 22m. A cable-net under self-stress is inherently negatively curved. The Basento Bridge by Italian engineer Sergio Musmeci, is an amazing example of a negatively curved, concrete shell bridge. At the time, the project was deemed too costly and involved a large scaffolded timber formwork. We have a scanned 3D model of the Basento Bridge available from the University of Basilicata (Bavusi et al, 2011, Ponzo et al., 2013), to study whether the original bridge, with its 69m spans, could have been made using a cable-net instead. The student is invited to examine and possibly push the envelope of what cable-net formworks can do

NOTE: Permission from the University of Basilicata has to be re-obtained for the student.

For TU Delft students (Civil Engineering, 40 ECTS)

The thesis is supervised in consultation with the Section Applied Mechanics, Chair for Structural Design / Building Engineering at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. The procedure is as follows:

  • For more information or details contact Summum Engineering directly. See our contact page to reach out to us.
  • Contact Summum Engineering to discuss any topic: your own, one of the above, or an unlisted topic.
  • Contact the graduation coordinator of your Master track to confirm the chosen topic and to discuss potential supervisors from TU Delft for your committee. There is a standard minimum of three supervisors, including a supervising professor, from TU Delft itself.
  • Visit Summum Engineering for a formal interview.
  • Confirm the rest of your committee.

For TU Delft students (Architecture)

The Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, does not allow external committee members at present. Therefore, Summum Engineering would have to co-supervise in an unofficial capacity, without the ability to evaluate and grade your work. Furthermore, the faculty prefers graduate theses at larger companies that can offer future employment, meaning the decision to carry out your thesis with Summum Engineering has to be argued with your committee. If you feel both these issues outweigh your interest in Summum Engineering, then feel free to contact us to discuss this further. See our contact page to reach out to us.

For TU Eindhoven students (45 ECTS)

The thesis is supervised in collaboration with the Section Structural Design at the Department of the Built Environment. The procedure is as follows:

  • For more information or details contact either Caroline Koks at KOers ( or Summum Engineering directly. See our contact page to reach out to us.
  • Contact Summum Engineering to discuss any topic: your own, one of the above, or an unlisted one. The topic has to be unrelated to our commercial activities, such that the thesis work cannot be construed as an internship.
  • Contact ir. Arjan Habraken to confirm the chosen topic and to discuss potential supervisors from TU Eindhoven. There is a standard minimum of two supervisors, including a supervising professor, from TU Eindhoven itself.
  • Visit Summum Engineering for a formal interview.
  • Confirm the rest of your committee.

Link to KOers ads.


Diederik Veenendaal studied Civil Engineering at TU Delft, worked at Witteveen+Bos consulting engineers and holds a doctorate in Architecture from the Block Research Group, ETH Zurich in Switzerland. In 2017, he started his own company, Summum Engineering, at Het Industriegebouw near Rotterdam Blaak. He is experienced in the structural engineering of prestressed and air-inflated membrane roofs, cable-net systems, concrete shell and deployable gridshell structures, among more traditional systems. He has (co-)authored many well-received scientific publications as well as the books “Shell Structures for Architecture” and “The Fabric Formwork Book”. In his work, he routinely uses Python and Grasshopper for scripting and parametric modelling as well as scientific libraries or ready-to-use plug-ins for computational optimization. His interests include the architecture, sustainability, self-sufficiency and circularity of buildings and structures. Read more about him and Summum Engineering here.


At ETH Zurich, Diederik Veenendaal has supervised students, successfully leading them to a number of built prototypes as well as peer-reviewed conference publications. In addition, he serves or served as supervisor for the following Master theses: