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  • An academic chair in enhanced Social Awareness for Innovative Processes

    The aim of the "Social Awa­re­ness and Inno­va­tion" Chair pro­ject is to deve­lop and imple­ment a series of research actions to rethink and pro­mote social open­ness in inno­va­tion pro­cesses car­ried out by engi­neers within their organisations.


    Today, we note that only 9% of chil­dren from disad­van­ta­ged social cate­go­ries are matri­cu­la­ted in engi­nee­ring schools, even though this cate­go­ry repre­sents 36% of the popu­la­tion of young people on a natio­nal scale. Conver­se­ly, advan­ta­ged cate­go­ries, which represent 24% of the total popu­la­tion, represent 63% of stu­dents in engi­nee­ring schools. UTC-Com­piegne is no excep­tion and has a simi­lar popu­la­tion (Ins­ti­tut des Poli­tiques Publiques report, Janua­ry 2021).

    The aim here is two­fold: to broa­den the social inclu­sion of our ins­ti­tu­tion, but also to have an impact on tech­no­lo­gi­cal inno­va­tion within the Region's indus­tries. Inno­va­tion is seen here as a fac­tor in the eco­no­mic and social deve­lop­ment of a given region. Some eco­no­mists esti­mate that an increase in annual growth of bet­ween 1 and 1.55% of GDP could be gene­ra­ted by a wider demo­cra­ti­sa­tion of inno­va­tion pro­fes­sions (Jara­vel, 2023). The aim of this Chair is to unders­tand the obs­tacles to this demo­cra­ti­sa­tion and to pro­pose ways of encou­ra­ging it. The pro­ject aims to deve­lop work­shops to encou­rage people to become engi­neers, espe­cial­ly those from disad­van­ta­ged back­grounds, rural areas or women.

    In the French aca­de­mic land­scape, UTC occu­pies a prime posi­tion in terms of tech­no­lo­gi­cal inno­va­tion. The UTC's mot­to is “len­ding mea­ning to inno­va­tion', invi­ting reflec­tion on the desi­gn and future of tech­no­lo­gies. Unfor­tu­na­te­ly, the ques­tion of the social com­po­si­tion of the groups invol­ved in these inno­va­tions is all too often a blind spot in stu­dies of inno­va­tion in France. This Chair pro­poses to pay par­ti­cu­lar atten­tion to this issue and to expe­riment with concrete actions.

    Actions & Aims assigned to the Chair

    The Chair's acti­vi­ties are based on three pillars: Enhan­ced awa­re­ness, Sup­port and Research.

    Enhanced awareness

    Rai­sing the awa­re­ness of young stu­dents to the engi­nee­ring pro­fes­sions and to the notion of inno­va­tion is approa­ched through concrete pre­sen­ta­tions by the engi­nee­ring stu­dents during two work­shops car­ried out at secon­da­ry col­lege level, the first of which is a dis­co­ve­ry work­shop where the young col­lege stu­dents are intro­du­ced to the notion of inno­va­tion, fol­lo­wed by a second, more in-depth work­shop during which the engi­nee­ring stu­dents present one of their cur­rent stu­dy pro­jects from their trai­ning at UTC.

    Final­ly, a third work­shop, a pro­ject work­shop, takes place in the UTC FabLab, a place spe­ci­fi­cal­ly crea­ted to enable inno­va­tion within schools, and enables the secon­da­ry school stu­dents to par­ti­ci­pate direct­ly with the student engi­neers present on site in inno­va­tion pro­jects. The aim of these work­shops is to popu­la­rise engi­nee­ring and inno­va­tion and to illus­trate the various concepts cove­red in the course. They also have an inter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry dimen­sion through the dis­co­ve­ry of the concept of inno­va­tion, which com­bines the tech­no­lo­gi­cal advances made by engi­neers with the need to match them with cur­rent socie­tal needs.


    Although UTC alrea­dy has a very use­ful sup­port sys­tem, sup­por­ting the inte­gra­tion of new stu­dents with a lower aca­de­mic pro­file will require more spe­ci­fic and cer­tain­ly more regu­lar moni­to­ring than the tra­di­tio­nal six-month­ly juries cur­rent­ly in place.

    What we are pro­po­sing here is the intro­duc­tion of a sup­port sys­tem that is bet­ter adap­ted to the new stu­dents. This could involve a refre­sher course in the fun­da­men­tals of science, along the lines of what is being done at Saclay (Ins­ti­tut Vil­le­bon Georges Char­pak). This sup­port, which we hope will be as per­so­na­li­sed as pos­sible, will be pro­vi­ded by stu­dents at the end of their degree who will be recrui­ted as student employees.


    The aim of this Chair is to deve­lop a series of research-action pro­jects on the role of enhan­ced social awa­re­ness in inno­va­tion contexts. The aim is to high­light and des­cribe the mecha­nisms that link social open­ness and inno­va­tion, seen in their his­to­ri­cal, sta­tis­ti­cal and expe­ri­men­tal dimen­sions. Inno­va­tion the­re­fore lies at the inter­face bet­ween tech­ni­cal desi­gn prac­tices and social and mana­ge­rial work: this is clear­ly the posi­tion occu­pied by the contem­po­ra­ry engineer.

    Far from the heroic tales recoun­ting the adven­tures of inven­tors, inno­va­tion is above all the result of col­lec­tive work, dra­wing on a wide range of resources. Thin­king about the com­po­si­tion of inno­va­tion ‘col­lec­tives’ the­re­fore implies thin­king about the plu­ra­li­ty of pos­si­bi­li­ties in inno­va­tion pro­cesses. The ques­tion of the social “open­ness” of the grandes écoles has long been stu­died in the case of the grandes écoles (Bour­dieu, Pas­se­ron, 1964) (Pas­qua­li, 2022) and more gene­ral­ly in the case of the school popu­la­tion (Beau, 2003). The ques­tion of social diver­si­ty within orga­ni­sa­tions is far less stu­died, whe­ther within com­pa­nies (Per­et­ti, 2007), among entre­pre­neurs (Séve­rine Le Loarne-Lemaire, 2014) or among mana­gers (Alter, 2012). While some very recent stu­dies by eco­no­mists have loo­ked at the impact of social diver­si­ty on the inno­va­tion eco­no­my (Jara­vel, 2023), none of them has loo­ked spe­ci­fi­cal­ly at the pro­cesses invol­ved as a whole.

    Means and finance

    The ope­ra­tio­nal part­ners are the various com­po­nents of UTC, as well as all the secon­da­ry schools, lycées and col­leges in which the inter­ven­tions take place, in the Hauts-de-France and Seine-et-Marne Regions.

    For 2023–2025, our part­ners and spon­sors are the Conseil régio­nal des Hauts de France, the Fon­da­tion du Cré­dit Agri­cole Brie Picar­die and the Fon­da­tion UTC pour l'Innovation..

    Contacts de la recherche à l'UTC

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