My internship experience at AMS Institute was nothing short of remarkable. As a summer research intern, I felt immediately welcomed at the institute and felt fully part of the community here. I am a master's student from the United States, so I appreciate the opportunity to conduct rigorous research in a new innovative setting. The Dutch urban planning innovation I had learned about in school became a reality, and I am grateful to experience it firsthand by living and working in Amsterdam. It was amazing to interact and work with such an international community of intelligent researchers.

“It was amazing to interact and work with this international community of intelligent researchers.”

Lia Downing

Diverse stakeholder engagements and meaningful outcomes
The focus of my internship was a collaborative research project between AMS Institute and Arcadis, a leading design and engineering firm. Together, we designed a project centered on stakeholder engagement for a broader urban energy initiative. One of my proudest achievements was executing nearly 25 interviews with diverse stakeholders. I engaged with representatives from Waternet and utility companies, to local restaurants, residents, and various religious institutions. Synthesizing their insights into a final product was an enriching experience, and I am particularly excited about sharing the final report with both AMS Institute and Arcadis. During my final presentation, the Narrative of Change framework allowed me to highlight thematic patterns, drawing from people's experiences during times of significant change, such as the clean energy transition. By incorporating perspectives previously overlooked, this inclusive approach ensures more equitable outcomes and a broader range of benefits from large-scale energy projects.

River monitoring project

A stimulating work environment and mentorship
The work environment at AMS Institute was fantastic. People were friendly, approachable, and genuinely interested in getting to know me. AMS Institute’s building, located on the marine terrain, provided a unique and inspiring setting for work. Not often are you able to see folks swimming in the river right nearby your office! The collaborations with neighboring art and coding institutes further enhanced the stimulating atmosphere. This academic environment reminded me of my experiences at the MIT urban studies department, fostering a sense of familiarity and a fast-paced atmosphere.

“The collaborations with neighboring art and coding institutes further enhanced the stimulating atmosphere.”

Lia Downing

Mentorship, professional growth
Throughout my internship, the mentorship and support from my supervisor, Lydia, played a pivotal role in shaping and making my research project impactful. We had productive and consistent weekly check-ins, facilitating my progress and completing tasks effectively. Lydia's specific and actionable feedback motivated me, making me feel that my work truly mattered. Her guidance ensured I delivered an end product that would not only benefit the client but also contribute to the wider academic community. Her support took many forms, including connecting me with the right person I should speak to or making sure I knew about different events to connect with MADE students.

The support I received from AMS Institute also extended to professional development opportunities, such as installing solar panels on the institute's roof and participating in the Arcadis river monitoring project. These experiences enriched my skills and knowledge in sustainable urban planning.

Amsterdam adventures
My time in Amsterdam has been unforgettable. I love being able to ride on my Swapfiets every day and get to feel the wind in my hair and be able to access the whole city on this little bicycle. I've also really enjoyed living in Amsterdam Noord neighborhood. This neighborhood is in the process of changing and developing. I find it fascinating to watch the wide variety of people that come to this neighborhood now that they have converted it from an industrial use to a mixed-use residential and recreational space. As an urban planning student, I find it inspirational to see what can be done with good urban planning and how you can revitalize areas and make them more livable for people.

Any chance I get, I am in all the different museums. I was able to purchase the Museumkaart, which gives you access to almost all the museums in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands I also have made it a goal to see all of the different public parks in the city. Every evening or weekend you can find me biking around with my book or my picnic blanket.

“I really think that this organization does amazing things both for the city and beyond and is an inspirational place to be.”

Lia Downing

MSc MADE Program


Read more about the program of the master's Metropolitan Analysis, Design and Engineering. This two-year program is

What we do

Cities, as we know them today, have a need to transform its systems on a metropolitan scale, to become more livable, resilient, sustainable and just, but also to offer good economic stability.