Strong, lasting features of UTC

A leitmotiv we often hear today in higher education is pedagogical innovation. UTC has always restructured its training schemes to comply with societal evolutions and demands form enterprise, in actions such as organizing the academic year in two semesters, creating the credit courses (UV), preparing long internships-placements abroad.

Students at UTC can freely choose their courses, make combinations and draw up a professional project ... i.e., compose a tailor-made cursus. This degree of flexibility ensures perfect coherence between personal inclinations and ambitions. The freedom the students have to choose their courses has always been seen a factor contributing undisputed qualities in terms of their decision-taking capacity. UTC entertains the ambition to encourage and enhance humanist skills in its graduates.

If students choose to come to UTC because of the high quality of its research activities and the excellent academic achievements, many of them discover the innovation in the establishment's pedagogy, developing the responsibility of each student; this is meaningful in terms of project management, group activities, internships and entrepreneurial projects ...

How are we to encourage a more positive attitude of our student-engineers in respect to their personal training choices? UTC decided to enable its students to become actors through the implementation of so-called project workshops - which have been organized for more than 15 years in the Urban System Engineering Department (GSU). There is an official initiator of the project, which can be a local or public authority or a private company, who place an order for a prospective investigation on a given theme.

The workshops take a full-day per week for a complete semester. Another formula, called Interdisciplinary workshops, has been developed at UTC called AIRPs (acronym for Interdisciplinary Problem-solving Workshops) which begin with two weeks full time during the inter-semester break) and then mature during the following semester. The AIRPs were created in an association with the French National Safety Research Establishment (INRS), with a pedagogical approach that calls for studies of real working situations in corporate setting and the associate risk assessments. They are organized in such a way as to enhance co-operation between the trained personnel (operatives, workshop managers, corporate management, on one hand) and the students on the other, who are taken out of their university setting and located in the company to be studied and where they can enjoy close contact with the professional personnel.

AIRPs thus offer several advantages: 

  • For UTC: future managers can become familiar with a form of reasoning taking into account the various points of view, as they effectively exist in corporate milieus, and also the risk factors for personnel as of the design stage of products and processes, identifying research themes;
  • For the Company: it provides new and viable solutions or consensus ideas among corporate staff.

Generally speaking, the enterprise involved implements inexpensive solutions during the first year of the scheme, and thereafter progressively introduces other ideas proposed by the students. Because of this time factor, some of the changes induced via AIRPs only become visible several (3-4) years after the students have finished their placement period.

UTC set up a Pedagogical Support Unit (UTC-CAP) in 2008 to assure quality and originality in its teaching practice and protocols; the mission assigned to the unit is to accompany pedagogical projects and implementation in various establishments. There are three 'poles': pedagogical engineering - computer science applications- audio-visual aids.

The programme aims as:

  • promoting and extending the positive features of UTC's pedagogical approaches and practice 
  • accompanying strategic and policy changes at UTC (in terms of its pedagogy)
  • providing better visibility for certain UTC lecturers' practice
  • assisting digital integration in regard to existing practice and expectations as expressed

The UTC-CAP unit is a mix between a university pedagogical advisory service and an ICT service (communication, information and computer sciences) dedicated to teaching. There are several priorities:

  • continuous training improvements
  • training for lecturer research scientists and PhD students
  • initial and continuous training schemes

In relation to:

  • Pedagogy and in particular digital pedagogy
  • Projects in liaison with the UNTs (so-called 'digital universities') and the Picardie Region Digital University (code-named UNR-P)
  • Implementation and accompaniment of use of digital tools (podcasts, Moodle, MOOCs, SPOCs ... )

Specific training cursus choices enables future engineers to become more aware of research possibilities, and enhances the setting up of links and relationships with PhD courses, to remove the hurdles that make recruitment of PhDs difficult. Curses that are research-intensive - as proposed to all HE engineering students, is in fine a supplement to the engineer's diploma.

Student who accept are invited to follow a path with 3 aspects:

  • a discovery of the world of research, lab. visits and attendance at conferences on the professional opening in research, ...
  • then comes hand-on practice in research activities, research assignments and placements and special lecturers to explore certain subjects in depth.
  • students are the invited to look more closely at science sociology or epistemology, to gain a better insight and understanding of research activities its structures and organization.

Industrial sectors seek skills that are in line with their needs. The traditional scheme consists of recruiting graduate engineers who are sufficiently skilled already in the 'fundamentals' enabling them to rapidly acquire new professional knowledge in the recruiting company.

When a particular profession has a specific and consistent scientific and technological base, in-house training can attain excessive proportions, both in terms of costs but also in capacity: to identify sufficiently qualified training officers, management of the special course profiles and paths, etc.

Establishing a teaching and research chair can then be seen as a solution at the frontier of these needs and, furthermore, enables emergence of strategic skills for a future builder-creator engineer.

UTC's research and innovation policy reflects the collective added value and the specific contributions of its laboratories, representing the scientific core of the institution. The lab specialties illustrate the scientific and technological skills that underpin UTC's knowledge bases and know-how, forming the 'research base' that help identify the innovation priorities.

Scientific polyvalence bring a wide variety of specialties and requires organization in the domains and encourages new forms of dialogue with the university's institutional partners and the socio-economic spheres.

The challenges ahead of the research activities of UTC are therefore numerous:

  • to turn technology into a science per se;
  • to contribute to investigations and debate about the issues and innovations proposed
  • to create the prerequisite conditions for "acting to understand".

UTC has the means (and uses them) to come up with integrated answers to a short-list of reference issues, mobilizing to do so a wide variety of technico-scientific skills and specialist areas. These issues relate to societal problems and challenges and to specific professional difficulties are concentrated, for UTC, round 3 innovation priority axes:

  • Clean, safe 'smart' transportation

› Transportation tomorrow will be faced with 3 major challenges: preserving the environment, safety measures and results and pervasive information and communication technologies

  • Bio-inspired (mimic) technologies and sustainable development 

› Nature can solve certain problems, inspiring Man to adopt/adapt solutions to his needs; how are we supposed to imitate these processes to influence decisions when it comes to seeking sustainable development answers?

  • Health sector engineering

› Biomedical technologies are not only evolving constantly but also require reactive and pluridisciplinary actors, able to design, manage and maintain efficient medical platforms.

Nine units form the core of UTC's research potential. Inasmuch as they cannot be seen as independent communities, they qualify as 'agents' in a collective, interdisciplinary commitment:

  • UTC-HEUDIASYC: computer and information sciences, automation & control, decision-making processes, a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 6599

  • UTC-COSTECH: Knowledge bases, organization and technical systems, technology and humanities. Lab. code EA 2223

  • UTC-ROBERVAL: Mechanical engineering, material science and engineering, acoustics, a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 6253

  • UTC-BMBI: Biomechanics, bio-medicine and bio-engineering , a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 6600

  • UTC-GEC: Enzyme and cell engineering, a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 6022

  • UTC-TIMR: Chemistry, process engineering and sustainable development; integrated transformations of renewable matter (TIMR), Lab. code EA 4297

  • UTC-LMAC: Applied mathematics, Compiegne, Lab. code EA 2222

  • UTC-Avenues: Urban risks and vulnerability, Lab. code EA 7284

UTC endeavours to promote research activities that are simultaneously relevant for a given domain, with open interfaces between various other specialties (transportation, communication, biology health engineering, mechanical engineering, computer sciences, social sciences and humanities. The projects set up in this manner are at the core of public-private research partnerships.

UTC follows a network logic in order to corroborate the choice of research themes, and to extend its institutional development policy. Its strong regional stance, in particular through its high degree of involvement in the Picardie Regional Research policy, allows the Governors to build ambitious structures, with high level national and international visibility.