Klaas Wierenga

A strong NREN, like CEDIA, is key to a flourishing research and innovation sector!

Klaas Wierenga, Eduroam creator.


Klaas, thank you for sharing these minutes with CEDIA. Tell us about yourself. Where do you work? What do you do?

I work in GÉANT, the pan-European data network for the research and education community that connects the national research and education networks (NREN) across Europe, allowing collaboration in projects ranging from biological science to observation of the earth, to the arts and culture. Currently, I am responsible for the Commitment to the Community and the Trust & Identity Portfolio.

What are your personal priorities?

I want to make sure that my team addresses, as best as it can, the needs of the Research and Education community, not only at a European level but also at a global level.

How does your work contribute to changing the world?

I believe that our portfolio of services allows students and scientists to work together around the world. Working together requires understanding and adapting to one another, and that is why we not only support world class research and education, but we also contribute to a better world, as many problems arise from a lack of understanding.

What have your main achievements been?

Well, I have been, together with other technology and research professionals, at the forefront of federated identity solutions, and I believe they have been key in the transformation of our sector. They have also been a great support for the development of research and academia.

You are the creator of Eduroam. How did this idea come about?

To be honest, because I had connection problems. I was working at the time in the Dutch NREN, SURFnet, and I visited universities every day in which I had many problems connecting to the Internet. We were using a dial based on RADIUS in the service and experimenting with access control based on 802.X in student houses. The central idea was really just to combine the two for WiFi access.

Thousands of people around the world use Eduroam. What do you think about this?

Actually, they are millions, and that's super cool! If at least once in your career you have an idea that makes you happy and brings so much to so many people, then you can look back and be proud.

This tool is now key to academia. What is your opinion about the technological change in research?

I think we must constantly look for ways to improve collaboration in research. Even more than in the past, since research has become a truly global activity, with groups that collaborate from anywhere in the world. This is reflected in the adoption of the eduGAIN service, which interconnects the collections of identities around the world, which simplifies access to content, services, and resources for the global research and education community.

What are your upcoming projects?

My team and I work on a series of very interesting projects, which offer online learning resources, new ideas about Eduroam, applications for secure access to resources, etc. We will have many new projects for the next year that we hope will continue to be applied and utilized by global Research Networks.

You have extensive experience in innovation management. What are the keys to undertaking and advancing innovative projects?

I think the most important thing is to understand that a successful innovative project cannot be planned at all. What you must do is create a climate that stimulates fresh ideas and that allows those who have an interest in innovating, to succeed. Create the right conditions, support people who have ideas, and be willing to take some risk, that is the key.

The incidence of innovative projects has had a great growth in recent years, but there is still not enough support and tools to carry them out. It is a problem that is corrected bit by bit thanks to the great support that research networks such as CEDIA can give researchers and students.

Finally, what do you think of CEDIA and its contribution to the development of information technology and research in Ecuador?

I think it's impressive how far CEDIA has come. A strong NREN, like CEDIA, is key to a flourishing research and innovation sector! For me it is really satisfying to see the great development in the field of research and connectivity that Ecuador has had in recent years. The CEDIA team has undoubtedly been a great pillar for this development and for this I want to extend my sincere congratulations and wishes of constant growth and success.