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ESME Sudria Blog

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Month: July 2020

Major in Biomechanics and Medical Robotics: putting technology to work for humanity

  • 20/07/2020

 

To respond to changes in society and the explosive growth in new technologies, ESME Sudria is–this semester–launching five new majors that give our students access to the future of engineering. Our major in Biomechanics and Medical Robotics–developed in partnership with Sup’Biotech, the IONIS Group’s engineering school specializing in biotechnology–trains students to use their skills in the healthcare sector, by designing complex systems that can stimulate or substitute for the functions of the human body’s natural systems. This goal is both a human and a technological one, and it’s one that research professor Alex Caldas–the coordinator for this major–is passionate about. The program is part of our Biotech & Health track, that begins in our preparatory cycle programs.

Alex Caldas

 

 

Why is it appealing for engineers to study biomechanics and medical robotics?Alex Caldas:

As an engineer, first there’s the technological aspect which allows students to work on interesting, cutting-edge topics, for example surgical robots, exoskeletons, and prosthetics. Then there’s the health/medical side, which shows us that behind the use of these new technologies, there’s a “humanist” goal–we’re doing robotics here, but our number one goal is to save lives, help patients, and simplify doctors’ lives. That brings a lot of meaning to the job of being an engineer.

 

Do students also have to have a passion for health care, medicine, and biology to enter this major?

Yes. For example, there are also anatomy courses in this major. That’s why we offer it in partnership with Sup’Biotech, because they’re experts in the biology aspect.

 

What courses can students take in this major?

During their fourth year, there are traditional robotics classes along with courses focusing on biomechanics, and for example in those courses you can study the mechanical properties of biological tissue. Other courses focus specifically on the human body. In the students’ fifth year, this major narrows in on various aspects such as robotics applied to the medical sector, or making a functional exoskeleton. Also in that year, students take courses that focus on control systems. Because you don’t control a medical robot in the same way as an industrial robot. For example, if you want to replicate the movement of a human arm with a prosthesis, that movement has to be fine-tuned and not robotic. Hence the appeal of offering students the option to take neuroscience and Machine Learning classes. Students in this major have a very wide variety of courses to choose from, while focusing on medical topics.

Alex Caldas and the robot Nao in front of high school girls, during the last edition of Elles Bougent day at ESME Sudria

 

 

Does the major also include hands-on projects?

Yes, of course, and some of those are going to start in April. These projects might focus on various things. For example, students like help me create a prosthetic hand. The goal is that–in time–this prosthesis could be controlled using the patient’s brain waves, with the patient wearing a helmet to control his or her prosthetic hand through brain waves.

 

Is this project-based component a part of all five years of the Biotech & Health track?

Yes, definitely. Beginning with their preparatory cycle program, students work on a prosthetic knee project, which gives them a taste of what this major is like. It involves giving the students various scientific articles. Then they’re asked to reflect on how to improve the retraining  and physical therapy process for that knee, which can often cause complications. Recently students have suggested various ideas and discussion topics, such as creating an orthotic for the knee; it’s a device that fits over the knee, and helps patients do their retraining and physical therapy exercises, or sensors placed around the knee to allow the physical therapist to see if the treatments are going well, or not.

 

 

It seems like there are still many things to invent and create in this field, which combines engineering and health.

Definitely. It’s really a growth area. It’s a very dynamic sector, due to more widespread changes in mechanical robotics–for a long time, robots were always large and heavy.  Now, we’re more likely to be making light robots that are less precise and slower, but they allow us to perform movements in a safer way, so they can be connected to a living thing. We’re talking here about creating collaborative robots, that can perform medical procedures, or prostheses. It’s a new field of application, and we’re realizing the great potential that robots have. Additionally, with the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re realizing that robots could be used to help out with various care protocols in hospitals, or it might be possible to develop a low cost assisted breathing solution. There is still so much left to do!

 

You’re going to use guest instructors from outside ESME Sudria in this major. Who are they?

Students will have the opportunity for regular contact with high-level people from our school’s partner institutions, such as GE Healthcare employees. GE Healthcare is a leading group in the medical sector. We also collaborate with staff from startups like Bone 3D, which specializes in additive manufacturing and biomechanics. We’ll do that through conferences, technology presentations, and final projects.

 

Will the students also be in contact with healthcare professionals?

Of course! The goal is to make this major career-focused, and in order to do that, we need to allow students to be in contact with healthcare professionals. Some students will work directly with doctors at the end of their educational programs. So they must be able to talk to them, to understand their needs, to speak the same language, etc.

 

Students in this major might be looking at technical careers like biomechanical or robotics engineering, but not only those careers.

That’s correct. In addition to technical careers focused on R&D, other, less technology-based careers are also open to our graduates. Those might include business engineering or product ownership. The idea is also to allow our students to use their education in another way: because they know how to talk to doctors, they can be an excellent bridge between the medical and engineering worlds.

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Innovation Week: ESME Sudria students innovate with Engie Solutions

  • 07/07/2020

At the beginning of 2020, ESME Sudria Paris’ first year Engineering Cycle students spent a full week focusing on engineering for sustainable development, as part of the first annual Innovation Week. This event–held on the ESME Sudria campus from Monday, February 3 – Friday, February 7–used a model similar to a hackathon, in which teams of students solved a specific problem that they had never seen before. This was a joint initiative between ESME Sudria and Engie Solutions, our partner for this edition of the program. Students in the class of 2022 focused on six topics: Carbon Footprint-Employee Interface, Carbon Footprint-Project Interface, RATP (Paris public transportation network) Client Needs, Renewable Energy, Mobility, and Information Technology Usage.

 

Our students are motivated…

“We’re always surprised to win a prize!”  Samantha Goncalves is sporting a big smile, and for good reason: along with her team members Alexandre Bouygues, Caroline Michel de Chabannes, Valentin Jolly and Antoine Parayre, she  won the Innovation Week 2020 trophy based on the jury vote. Samantha’s team first made the finals in their category, before winning the final stage after their pitch, presenting Ec(H)o+, a project to “Allow Engie Solutions to get its employees on board with the transition to zero carbon emissions,” using “a collaborative app giving all of the company’s employees the chance to share their suggestions on various topics: mobility, communication, and external activities.” It’s a cutting-edge topic that really appealed to the professionals in the group, as well as the students. Antoine Parayre told us, “When the topic was announced, we weren’t immediately in love with it.  But the more we researched it, the more we got caught up in it, and in the end we were 100% in. As the week went on, we got more and more involved and really gave it our all.” The team’s commitment was rewarded with a trophy, medals, and “VIP box seats at the French Open and a tour of Engie’s site. It was a great day!”

The Ec (H) o + team during the final pitch

Florian Brunet was also very happy with this very energizing week. “I thought it was very cool,” he tells us. The thing I really enjoyed was meeting so many experts and engineers, and having access to so much data, sometimes even too much data! We had to sort through all of it throughout the week during this very long hackathon. A typical hackathon lasts 48 hours, and ours was five full days!” Along with his friends Camille Guillot, Killian Serbie, and Thibault Walker, Florian won the audience prize for “Eole,” a project focused on renewable energy. “Our goal was to increase the amount of renewable energy in office buildings. To do that, we envisioned building a wind turbine on top of an office tower. At the outset, when we looked at the project, we thought it wasn’t very realistic. But when we dug a little deeper, we saw that it was doable. That motivated us to take it to the limit!” 

The school team

 

…and inspired professionals!

On the Engie Solutions side, there was just as much enthusiasm at the end of this creative marathon. Cindy Figueiredo, business manager at Engie Ineo, was on hand to support and advise the students on the topic of “Carbon Footprint-Employee Interface.” She had a tough time choosing from among the finalists! “I thought that the students were all very constructive, and they worked well together. When the time came to pick the project for the final phase of the challenge, we were torn between two projects, and in the end we chose the one that had the best prototype: Ec(H)o +.” This choice seems to have paid off, although–in addition to the prizes that were given out–the ripple effect of this one-of-a-kind hackathon goes beyond medals and trophies. Yann Rolland, director of the business unit at Engie Solutions and CEO of Engie Ineo, told us, “This first-of-its-kind collaboration between Engie Solutions and ESME Sudria embodies our desire to create a partnership between a multi-disciplinary engineering school and our company. Because we’re a large business, we’re always in need of dynamic energy and new ideas to help us in the transition to zero carbon emissions; that’s the focus of our plans and our strategy. So this hackathon was a chance to learn about innovative ideas from a new generation with a focus on our planet.

Yann Rolland and Véronique Bonnet, Deputy Chief Executive of ESME Sudria

 

Yann Rolland was captivated by many of the ideas that the students presented, including Er@sor, an enterprise-level e-mail deletion tool, designed by Valentin Chevaillier, Elodie Edouard, Chloé Lhermitte, Hector Salathé, Louise Salaün and Pierre Wils.  Er@sor is a significant project, given the scale of annoying e-mails that employees receive. “The finalist projects were all very interesting and creative.  It wasn’t easy to vote for just one of them, especially because these ideas were very concrete, and potentially easy to bring to life. Personally, I voted for the Er@sor project, and although it didn’t win, I asked the Engie IT teams to see how we might be able to deploy this idea at our company.” That was Yann Rolland’s way of emphasizing his company’s confidence in ESME Sudria’s engineering students. “I was expecting some good things, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m really convinced that we always generate more ideas together than alone, and that we find new ideas everywhere, including by soliciting input from young people, not only working professionals. Because we’re wrapped up in the issues, sometimes we don’t see the bigger picture. The students’ responses were very helpful!” 

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