“The evolution of Ghent University in my career? From 7 to 700 projectors!”

(31-08-2022) After a career of just under 25 years at Ghent University, Bruno Van Steenberghe retires on 1 September. Although that concept is relative to him. 'The man for all your light and sound' takes a look at the past, present and future.

A technician in a suitBruno Van Steenberghe

He has seen every corner of Ghent University as an 'electricity controller'. First around the turn of the century with larger construction and renovation projects, with Home Bertha and Korte Meer as the best examples, later with countless adjustments to auditoriums. And hundreds of events were provided with the necessary light and sound installations by him and his technical team. No, Ghent University has few more secrets for Bruno Van Steenberghe.

“The first part of my career – as inspector of Pioneer radios in a sheltered workshop and maintenance manager at Inex – was fun and educational, but anyone who knows me will confirm that I like to wear a suit and shirt - preferably with a tie. That was impossible in those jobs. I have always found it great that this was possible at Ghent University. That way I was able to use my 57 ties alternately.” (laughs)

Talking numbers

Bruno took over the projector and microphone management. And he could almost literally count the numbers on his hands: 7 mobile projectors and 3 wireless microphones.

“The constant innovations in the audiovisual world have also expressed themselves at Ghent University. I saw Ghent University evolve from 7 to 700 projectors, from 3 to 300 wireless microphones. The quality went up drastically, from 800 to 3600 lumens per projector. And luckily, something went down too – the purchase price. If those first projectors costed 200,000 francs (about 5,000 euros), you already have high-quality ones now for 500 euros.”

In the early years, such projectors were highly sought after, while the options for installing them safely were not yet extensive. A theft sometimes occurred. The thieves were not very subtle, but they were creative. Sometimes they just left the tower of tables and chairs up to the projector; the projector itself probably had to be used to show the football World Cup on a big screen in a room or cafe.

“We did have creative solutions to get a thief caught publicly. We marked the projectors invisibly with UV light, or we ensured that a projector in start-up always showed the Ghent University logo. Some pieces showed up that way.”

More and more multimedia

Light, sound and projection is nowadays usually controlled via the network. It ensures fewer cables, fewer potential interferences, and the ability to bridge greater distances without loss of image and sound quality.

“The importance of multimedia will only increase in the audiovisual world. It is therefore a good thing that my successors will operate from the Multimedia team (DICT). They will be able to respond to innovations and immediately make the connection with the existing IT infrastructure.”

Expanding the wireless network sometimes also has its drawbacks. When the frequencies are tinkered with intentionally or not, the wireless microphone in the auditorium sometimes stops working. And in an exceptional case the reverse occurs, such as during Student Kick-Off 2015. “I was called by a professor in the Blandijnberg. His own voice did not come through the speakers, but the performance of Samson and Gert did. Total coincidence, but those frequencies were completely the same. The man and his students had a good laugh about it. We then just adjusted the frequency, because we could hardly ask Samson and Gert to do so.”

"I always stood my ground, and I liked it with a joke. When an important political speaker did not want to put on a headset to speak during an opening lecture, I presented him with the choice: headset or not speaking. After all, the technician on duty is in charge. He agreed with the words "do your thing, man." After the lecture, I took the headset transmitter from his vest pocket and told him, "For once I've been in your pockets." Both had a good laugh."

UGent'er for life

“The craziest question I ever had to answer? “Sir, does a wireless microphone have a wire?” Admittedly, then you won't come around for a while."

Bruno Van Steenberghe 

Crazy question or not, Bruno was there for everyone, young or old, tech-savvy or complete layman. And students who secretly broke the rules in the homes and had a companion animal or friend in their room, could count on Bruno turning a blind eye during his inspections. “Ah, those young guys.”

“The distance between students, colleagues, and also between the academic field and the technicians, has become smaller. The 'we-feeling' has increased. There is mutual appreciation. And teachers today are also better at handling technology than they were twenty years ago.”

Whatever was going on, Bruno and his team always arranged it with a smile.


“All together, it's been good. I have not come to work against my will for a single day. I hope my successors will be able to say the same when they retire.”

Ghent University wishes Bruno and all colleagues who are retired or will soon be retiring many happy years. You are one of us for life at Ghent University, as Bruno himself agrees.