C.T.S.G. is an old association. So old, in fact, that we are the oldest study association of the campus of the University of Twente. But did you know that the association originally wasn’t called C.T.S.G. Alembic and that the association has the designation ‘Royal’, given by the Royal House of the Netherlands. Beneath this introduction a summary of the long history of Alembic can be found.

The beginning

To tell you more about the association we need to go back to where it started: the law that started the Technische Hogeschool Twente (THT). A law from 1961 that started the construction of the THT in Enschede. Until the official opening in 1964, no education was provided, but still professor Vlugter decided to move from Delft to Twente, to start the department Chemische Technologie (Chemical Technology). With him, seven graduates came to Enschede: they became the first group of Chemical Technologists from Twente. Next to Chemical Technology (CT) there were, during the opening of THT in 1964, three other departments, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and General Sciences. The department General Sciences later became Business Administrator and Public Administration.

Founding the association

For these beginning departments, study associations had to be founded. The CT-students, amongst them the gentlemen Goudriaan and Martens (the later (interim)-chairman of Alembic), were determined that the study association of CT had to be the first to be founded. Helped by drive of professor Vlugter, on the 29th of March 1965 the study association Chemo en Technisch Studenten Genootschap, or in short C.T.S.G., was founded.

The board from 1966 thought that the name could be improved and so they created a contest amongst their members to create a better name for the association. Many suggestions followed, amongst them: Lavoisier, Krater of Lapschwanz. The board were not delighted with those names, which meant it took well into 1967 to find a new name. The name Alembic was suggested by the then internship coordinator of the study, the gentleman Buis. He thought that the name stood for status and dignity and because the association was the oldest in Twente, the board thought the name was fitting. Following the general members meeting of 21 November 1967, the association was named Chemotechnisch Studentengenootschap Alembic.

The sixties, seventies and eighties

Initiated by Alembic, in 1968, the first edition of the magazine KAT was released, with the goal to have a CATalytic (in Dutch; KATalytische) influence on the spreading of information of the CT-community amongst the THT. The KAT operated well until 1980. After that the faculty decided to discontinue the KAT, because there was a lack of editors and because the costs of producing the magazine increased.

In September 1971 the building Langezijds was opened. At first this was the CT-buidling, later it became the Gallery. Alembic provided a festive opening of the building. The Alembic rooms were moved to the Langezijds, between the laboratories and the lecture halls.

Three years later, on the 2nd of January 1974, Alembic received the designation ‘Royal’, given by the Royal House of the Netherlands. The articles of association of Alembic were approved by the Cabinet of the Netherlands. In addition, after a long period of absence, the magazine of Alembic returned, this time with the name The Cat.

After a period of settling in in the Langezijds building, the time was right to build a professional bar; in the beginning gathered in a lecture room in Langezijds for a drink. In 1986 this bar was build and finally the members could drink draught beer, instead of drinking from bottles. The name for this bar simply became ‘Borrelkelder’ (loosely translated tot ‘Drinkbasement’), because it was basically a drinking location in a (sort of) basement of Langezijds.

In the same year, in September 1986, the THT was recognized as an university and it received the name University of Twente.

The nineties until the present

In the end of the nineties the CT-students had to move: the lecture halls were moved from the Langezijds to the Horst. In 1997 the Alembic room were also moved to the Horst. The laboratories were still in Langezijds until 2010, nowadays they are placed in Carré.

Unfortunately, the nineties were not a prosperous period for the study Chemical Technology. Changes in the system of student funding (scholarships given by the Dutch government) caused a dramatic decrease in first year students; from 150 in 1994 to approximately 50 in 1999 and 2000. The year 2001 formed a low with 30 students. The last few years the flow of students has increase again to approximately 60 a year.

In September 2008 the government forced the study to change its name to Scheikundige Technologie (ST, still Chemical Technology). This was done to avoid confusion of new students, because the study had that name in the other universities of The Netherlands.

The alembic

C.T.S.G. Alembic was named after the alembic. Every chemical engineer should know what an alembic is, but just to make sure everyone does, it is explained below. The alembic belongs to the oldest chemical devices and has been used since Alexander the Great (~400 BC) and was used for distillation purposes. Presently, the alembic is still used in old distilleries. The origin of the word is somewhat unclear, but possibly it was derived from the word ‘al inbiq’, which is Arabic for ‘in the barrel’. In the course of time the word changed to from the Latin ‘alembicus’, to the French ‘alembic’ to the Old-Dutch ‘alembijk’ to the present day Dutch ‘alembiek’. C.T.S.G. is the proud owner of such a alembic.

Honorary members and members of merit

In the course of Alembic there have been a few professors that have meant a lot to the association and have received the title honorary member. On the 6th of May 1969, professor Vlugter, the first head of the department CT and the then Rector Magnificus, received the title honorary member for his valuable work for Alembic. He has prepared the founding of Alembic, regularly organized colloquia, was a loyal contributor to Alembic and frequently gave advice to the association. Unfortunately, he passed away.

In May 1983 the gentleman Da Costa parted from his function as internship coordinator and during his farewell-party organised by Alembic, he became the second honorary member of Alembic. Unfortunately, he passed away in May 2008.

In 1986 professor Schuijer received his honorary membership during his farewell, earned by his helpfulness to the students and especially Alembic. In Novemer 1988 the then dean of CT, professor Gellings became an honorary member. In the beginning of 1998 professor Westerterp, one of the pioneers on the area of process technology and especially reactor engineering, parted from CT. He was elected to the fifth honorary member of Alembic. During the ninth lustrum of Alembic, in 2010, Dr. Ir. Louis van der Ham was named to the sixth honorary member of the association, for his lifetime of dedication to Alembic and the study. He was part of the Alembic board of 1984-1985 and was, during his election to honorary member, the educational director of ST. The newest honorary member is Dr. Ir. Ben Betlem. Ben Betlem is, even as educational director of ST, closely associated with Alembic, which was a convincing reason for his appointment as honorary member.

Alembic has, next to her honorary members, also two members of merit. Firstly, the unfortunately prematurely deceased superintendent, the gentleman Bosman. He helped Alembic especially in the housing department. The second member of merit is laboratory attendant John Heeks. He has, for example, helped building the bar and was never shy of helping with a chore. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2013.