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An innovative model

Its iden­ti­ty and its culture have pla­ced UTC front-stage since it was esta­bli­shed. UTC has remai­ned as ever, inno­va­tive, ima­gi­na­tive and is still a model for change for others face with the chal­lenges of the envi­ron­ment and the demands fra­med by the socio-eco­no­mic world of affairs.


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.

Research & Valorization

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.

  • 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".

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

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. 

Eight 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-BMBI: Bio­me­cha­nics, bio-medi­cine and bio-engi­nee­ring , a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 7338
  • UTC-GEC: Enzyme and cell engi­nee­ring, a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 7025
  • UTC-HEUDIASYC: com­pu­ter and infor­ma­tion sciences, auto­ma­tion & control, deci­sion-making pro­cesses, a joint lab., code-named UMR UTC/CNRS 7253
  • UTC-ROBERVAL: Mecha­ni­cal engi­nee­ring, mate­rial science and engi­nee­ring, acous­tics, code-named FRE UTC/CNRS 2012
  • UTC-Ave­nues: Urban risks and vul­ne­ra­bi­li­ty, Lab. code EA 7284
  • UTC-COSTECH: Know­ledge bases, orga­ni­za­tion and tech­ni­cal sys­tems, tech­no­lo­gy and huma­ni­ties. Lab. code EA 2223
  • UTC-LMAC: Applied mathe­ma­tics, Com­piegne, Lab. code EA 2222
  • UTC-TIMR: Che­mis­try, pro­cess engi­nee­ring and sus­tai­nable deve­lop­ment; inte­gra­ted trans­for­ma­tions of rene­wable mat­ter (TIMR), Lab. code EA 4297

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. 

Certified strong points, to be developed further

Ever since UTC was esta­bli­shed, it has gra­dual­ly built up a conti­nuum bet­ween tea­ching, trai­ning, research and inno­va­tion. It has conse­quent­ly deve­lo­ped seve­ral ini­tia­tives that serve today as levers to blend intel­li­gent­ly stu­dies, com­pre­hen­sion and mana­ge­ment of new and com­plex technologies. 

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