Electromagnetics Engineer, Jochem, has always been inspired by the technologies doing good for the world. In fact, in high school, he felt sure he would join the path of sustainability, even if he wasn't exactly sure of how. That became clear later. In his role with Lightyear, he tells us what it's like to be part of the team producing the world's first long-range solar car, and how he found his own mission in clean mobility.
Jochem was determined to put his energy into something that could shape the future. Leaving his hometown of Castricum, he set out to University of Twente to study for a bachelor’s in Applied Physics. A solid technological foundation.
A new home, new friends, and a bright new city felt exciting, but something was missing. His bachelor provided valuable new insights and experiences, but something still nagged him. He wondered: how am I truly able to make an impact through my learnings?
It began as a quiet thought, easily shrugged off, but it surfaced more and more in his mind as he progressed through his studies. The solution wasn’t clear.
A solution soaked in sunshine
But a solution came, in the form of Solar Team Twente. Or rather, the first step towards the solution. This incredible experience - building a vehicle that could harness the sun’s power - unlocked the opportunity to apply his fundamental knowledge to something tangible. Something real that he could touch, build even.
It was in this moment he realized: he was working on a game changer - a product that could truly bring a more sustainable future. It was this epiphany that would put Jochem firmly on the track of clean mobility.
Jochem also realized that, only with a great, passionate, and motivated team can such technologies be forged. He said:
"We couldn't have pulled it off without one and other. We were close-knit and spent every hour the day gave us to make it happen. If a hurdle came along, and plenty did, the team jumped on it together, without question. It was really special to be a part of that."
As Jochem deep-dived into the technicalities of the electrical motor, he came to a firm conclusion. To experience the entire product development cycle - from first sketches to reality - was pretty awesome. But until this incredible technology, Solar Electric Vehicles (SEVs), were being brought to the world, still missed that sense of purpose he'd dreamed of at school. He wanted to be part of something even bigger than himself, something that stretched even farther than a grueling race across the Australian outback.
(Photo by Patrick Ooms)
When it came to finding his next role, Jochem, an R&D engineer by heart, now had a list of requirements. The Solar Team had very much influenced them; he wanted that same team vibe. That high level of energy and shared intrinsic motivation. He also wanted to grasp a full system, as a whole, see it develop and connect the technical dots.
He didn't want to be a cog in the wheel, but a part of a movement. Essentially, he wanted to shape the future with a team dedicated to making it happen together.
Fast forward to today. Jochem has been a part of Lightyear’s mission for some months now, and he can enthusiastically confirm that he's ticked those boxes.
Yes, the team is bigger than an average Solar Team. But, he’s still able to look at the technology as an entire system. His experience on the Solar Team shines through his work every day, as it enables him to look through a multidisciplinary as well as a multi-system lens.
That approach is highly appreciated within Lightyear, where it's not about optimizing your own system from a monodisciplinary angle. It’s about finding an optimum - eventually - on system level. Ultimately, the one metric that rules them all, is energy consumption at a system level. A radical and universal focus on ultra-efficiency.
A mission measured in light-years
Building Lightyear 0 is very different from engineering a solar car to cross one monumental finish line. A Lightyear car needs to be reliable, durable, and stylish. It needs to stand up to, let’s say, sloping family adventures in Tuscany, beach trips across Portugal or ski trips in the snowy Alps.
In engineering Lightyear 0, we marry a revolutionary focus on efficiency with a build that is reliable and safe. Lightyear facilities and equipment have been carefully considered to achieve this level of maturity. But even more important is our team of talented engineers, working together to make it happen.
Sounds like smooth sailing, right? Well, not quite. Jochem still has some enemies, and his number one is time. He said:
"There’s always so much more you’d like to do. Safe to say, my time management skills have definitely been taken to a higher level! It's key to continuously prioritize everything that needs to be done. And that's a lot. "
As the company is expanding fast, it can sometimes be tough to find who you need for what topic. You can't just simply tap someone on the shoulder, as we did in the (much smaller) Solar Team. But hey, the good news is, the mindset is very much there; everyone is ready to learn from each other, jump in and help. There's always a wealth of knowledge and experience around you at Lightyear.
You might be wondering, has Jochem satisfied that nagging voice? The answer is almost.
Like the rest of the Lightyear team, he's counting down to the moment our cars debut on roads across Europe (later this year). When first customers have their cars - driving the first clean solar kilometers - that’s when the mission takes off. We aim for one light-year of kilometers driven by Lightyear vehicles, that's 9.460.000.000.000 kilometers. Only then, will Jochem be completely satisfied.