VUB awards honorary doctorate to Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame


The Free University of Brussels (VUB) is awarding an honorary doctorate to the man who played captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Engineering inspiration

British actor Sir Patrick Stewart will receive an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Brussels (VUB) later this month. Stewart is famous for his role as captain Jean-Luc Picard in the science fiction series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Stewart was recommended by the faculty of engineers sciences and the consulting body of the exact sciences department. They said that the series, and especially Stewart, have provided major inspiration to future engineers, scientists and researchers. Star Trek had an immense impact on the fascination among youngsters worldwide, they said, with STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The American series, which aired from 1987 to 1994, was a follow-up to the original Star Trek series from the 1960s. “Many of the applications shown in the series, which were at the time considered pure fantasy, are now reality,” said professor Hugo Thienpont of the VUB’s photonics research group.

Thienpont went on to mention tablet computers, mobile phones, 3D printers, lasers in  medical diagnostics and optical chips. “These developments were possible through the efforts of the generation of engineers and scientists inspired by this scientifically founded fictional series,” he said. The statement also points out that the series dealt with global problems like environmental issues, the ageing population, gender inequality and euthanasia.

VUB will also award seven other honorary doctorates, including to British historian Peter Burke and Luigi Naldini, an Italian pioneer in gene and cell therapy.

Free University of Brussels (VUB)

The VUB was established as a spin-off of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles in the 1960s. It’s an internationally oriented and liberal institution, and the only Dutch-speaking university in the capital.
Work - The VUB is the largest Dutch-speaking employer of the Brussels-Capital Region.
St V - Every year, students honour university founder Pierre Theodore Verhaegen in a festive, booze-filled “St V” march through the city.
Campus - The VUB is the only Dutch-speaking university with a small, American-style green campus.

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