INNovATIoN WITHouT BoRDERS
Engineering school recognized by the French Governement since 1922
Diploma accredited by the French Commission on Engineering Credentials (Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur - CTI)
Member of the Consortium of the Top French Schools in Engineering and Business (Conférence des Grandes Ecoles - CGE)
Member of the Union of Independent Grandes Écoles (UGEI)
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 withSup’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.
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.
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.
At the beginning of 2020, ESME Sudria Paris’ first year Engineering Cyclestudents 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!”
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!”
…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 was captivated by many of the ideas that the students presented, including Er@sor, an enterprise-level e-mail deletion tool, designed by ValentinChevaillier, ElodieEdouard, ChloéLhermitte, HectorSalathé, LouiseSalaün and PierreWils. 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!”
2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci–a timeless genius and polymath–is regularly cited as the first person to develop theories about biomimicry. Biomimicry means studying nature, taking inspiration from living systems, and attempting to replicate all or part of them for purposes of innovation. ESME Sudria and the ISG joined forces to focus on the topic of biomimicry during a day-long event including lectures and workshops, on Wednesday, November 13. The event title: Biomimicry Day: Responsible Innovation.
Working professionals, people curious about the topic, and university students gathered at 60 Boulevard de la Liberté to network, learn about the natural world, and uncover new and promising solutions. “In light of today’s climate challenges, ESME Sudria has positioned itself as a school that can innovate in ways that respect biodiversity and are cost-efficient–these are real challenges that will be omnipresent in the business environment in the future,” says Johan Verstraete, director of the Lille campus. “Throughout our history, ESME Sudria has always sought to train cutting-edge engineers. For that reason, we want our future graduates to understand these new challenges. Biomimicry Day is part of this effort to deepen our students’ knowledge, so that later on, they can logically and easily look to the natural world when they’re designing new projects.” »
Our engineering students looking to deepen their knowledge were treated to the presence of two representatives from Ceebios, the European Centre of Excellence in Biomimicry at Senlis. Hugo Bachellier is the director of training and regional strategy, and Bertrand Monfort is the Ceebios representative for southern France. Hugo Bachellier took the opportunity to give an overview of Ceebios’ activity (“a biomimicry skills network in France, which seeks to support society’s transitions through innovative approaches inspired by the natural world”) along with the “Nature=Future” video series. He also emphasized the natural world’s potential; it can “create, store, and process data,” and the need to create more “low tech” projects–technologies that are useful, accessible, and durable.
“Every species is a book”
Hugo Bachellier told the group that biomimicry and bio-inspiration can give rise to complex systems that give simple results, or simple systems that solve complex problems–an example is permaculture. “I’m an engineer by training, and I became interested in biomimicry after a lecture by the American scientist Janine Benyus, who’s known for having formalized the concept. That motivated me to found an association–now known as Chrysalide–at my university. Then I went to work for Ceebios. A day like the ISG/ESME Sudria Biomimicry Day is a fantastic initiative, because you feel that these schools really want to get involved in biomimicry. As a speaker, I wanted to offer a framework and not make the discussion too focused on technology, to show how biomimicry could allow everyone to reconnect to the challenges of the biosphere.”
Bertrand Monfort focused his talk on nature’s infinite richness, reminding the attendees that the nature-based engineering approach looks at three levels when solving problems: form (design), materials (process) and ecosystem (relationships). He also cited a number of examples of living things that are able to do things that are almost unbelievable, like “spiders spinning webs that are almost as strong as steel,” or “the Virginia creeper vine that has tentacles that can stick very tightly to walls,” or even “mussels that secrete a byssus, an extraordinary type of glue that works in water and in air.” Monfort, a true specialist, thinks it’s time to open our eyes and think differently about the future: “Every species is a book, and biodiversity is a library. But humans generally know very little about the richness of information in the natural world. That means we have to rethink everything!” »
“Nature means 3.8 billion years of R&D”
That’s the opinion of Alain Renaudin, president of the consulting firm NewCorp and founder of the Biomim’Explo, a major annual event focused on biomimicry. “We’re disconnected from the natural world, specifically because of increased urbanization, and we’ve lost a certain amount of good judgment. We’ve forgotten about nature’s resiliency, and its ability to teach us. Biomimicry is an invitation to re-learn things. And when we learn, we love it, and we’re amazed at the natural world all over again! We, homo sapiens, the newcomers to the planet, have to learn from the medusa, from the sharks, from plants…organisms that are much older than we are, and that have sometimes survived multiple mass extinctions. Nature means 3.8 billion years of R&D.. What’s new isn’t biomimicry, but the context. Biomimicry takes us from learning why we need to change, to learning how we need to change. People won’t save the planet, the planet will save people. So we have to reconsider the natural world, to help ourselves do better. This is a 180° change of perspective, and if that speeds up, it’s going to give us new tools to observe and imitate the natural world.” »
This concept of urgent action through a new way of returning to nature also appeared in a lecture given by Stephan Hoornaert, a biomimicry consultant at Morpho-Biomimicry. “The “sapiens” in “homo sapiens” means “wise, but are we really wise?” Hoornaert asked the audience this question, alerting them to the danger of our present situation. “We’ve set some new records. We’re at the beginning of the sixth massive extinction, 60-70% of insects have disappeared in a few years, and the landscape is changing; we’ll soon be at the point of no return. Are we going to just keep waiting?” »
Citing Leonardo da Vinci, “Learn your lessons in nature, that is where our future lies,” Stephan Hoornaert called for widespread and profound change in our way of thinking about the world. “We solve our problems through technology, and to do that, we’re going to primarily use energy and matter. Nature does things differently: she draws on information and structure.” In order for biomimicry to be a real solution, we need to never forget its three pillars: ethics, reconnection, and ethos. “Without ethics, this is just greenwashing. Connections are also essential: we’re animals that have been disconnected from nature and from what’s happening inside us. We have to change that and learn how to listen. Finally, we also have to stop hyper-specializing, segmenting, working in “castes” that are insensitive and unaware. We’ve forgotten how to collaborate. Engineers and biologists are wired differently, but they have to talk to each other, learn from each other, and exchange visions.” »
Businesses are already getting involved
Other speakers were representatives from businesses that have already committed to biomimicry, like Blue Lingua (bio-inspired radar), Decathlon (a towel inspired by the thorny devil lizard for shorter drying times, a basketball that repairs its own leaks by filling punctures with an internal gel), and Eel Energy. Since it was founded in 2012, Eel Energy has been developing an undulating-wave marine turbine that imitates the swimming motion of a fish, so that wave energy is captured in linear generators. “Our company is based in Boulogne-sur-Mer, so we focus as much as possible on contacts within our own region,” says CEO Franck Sylvain. “It seemed especially appealing to us to come meet with students. The students at this event asked many questions, and that was great, because it’s important to be curious. This curiosity motivates them to look at what’s being done elsewhere, to produce better designs yourself. In the end, that’s the essence of biomimicry.”
There were other professional experts in the workshop area, who presented their innovations or activities. One was Erik Guillemin, president of the startup AMS R&D that developed the undulating membrane technology known as Wavera, which can be adapted to all types of pumps. “Whenever we meet with engineering students, we like to show them our innovative technology and what it enables us to do. For us, this is a springboard into the future. In a certain way, we’re planting a seed: some of them will be struck by our technology and will remember it, and others will take inspiration from our approach and apply it to other areas. Something positive and interesting will always come out of it!” What could be better than inspiring a student, like Louis Trousson (ESME Sudria class of 2022), a member of Biomimtech, the school’s new student association–as its name would suggest, the group focuses entirely on biomimicry: “A day like today, with many speakers who we can see and talk to, allows us to absorb even more information about this approach. It allows us form new relationships and grow our association! “
No more boat propellers? That’s the challenge that Harold Guillemin, ESME Sudria class of 2014, decided to take on when he founded his startup, FinX! To get there, this promising young company is currently developing a new type of bio-inspired nautical propulsion system. Harold Guillemin is also the company’s CEO, and we recently talked to him about his career path, and his vision of the biomimicry sector, and about his future goals.
What has your career path been like, since you earned your engineering degree in 2014?
Harold Guillemin: After ESME Sudria, I went to work for AMS R&D, a startup that my father founded, to help them develop a new industrial pump technology called Wavera. It uses a membrane that undulates back and forth like a fish’s fin. The product launched in 2018. It draws 200 watts and is 100% electric, so it can move fluids, using up to 30% less energy. AMS R&D’s business model is to license this technology to pump manufacturers, to subcontract the manufacturing. After four years there, I had really mastered that technology and I wanted to leave the company so that I could adapt that technology to the nautical sector, and propel boats with something other than a propeller. How? By using a high-frequency, low-amplitude undulating membrane, so that you get a very efficient propulsion.
So it’s more than a motor?
Exactly. At FinX, we work on innovative nautical propulsion. For example you might use our technology for a boat motor, to propel a diver or a drone, or for a motorized surfboard. Our first product is 100% electric; it’s two kilowatts, the equivalent of five horsepower. This new propulsion technology can propel small launches and sailboats that weigh up to three tons. We’re in the development phase, and we’re supposed to test it on the Seine river within the next few weeks.
How did you get the idea to focus on the nautical sector?
I was always fascinated by this technology, so I kept thinking that it had to be possible to adapt it to something that affects the general public. Bit by bit, the nautical sector seemed obvious to me…maybe because I’m originally from Brittany, on France’s northwest coast. But OK, although I’m from Brittany, I’m more of an engineering and a technician than a sailor and an explorer!
Why did you choose the name FinX?
For the English word, “fin.” And I thought that the X gave it a modern and sporty feel. We wanted a short name that would be understandable worldwide, and specifically in the US market. You can pronounce it either the French way “Feen X” or the English way, “FinX.”
What appeals to you as an engineer about working on a biomimicry project?
It’s fascinating to take your inspiration from living things. When you open your mind to biomimicry, you’re dealing with unlimited creative potential, and you can find a lot of solutions to problems that are sometimes very technical. Typically at FinX, biomimicry allows us to solve problems related to hydrodynamics, or turbulent flows. But beyond the practical aspect, biomimicry also keeps us humble, because nature already has millions of years of R&D stored up! As an engineer, it would be ridiculous not to take inspiration from that. When we were developing our motor, we were constantly comparing ourselves to what was already out there, whether it was man-made or something in the natural world, so that we could find the best possible design. We always do better work when we take inspiration from the experience of others. Today, engineers can no longer stay locked up in a dark laboratory!
Working as an engineer in a company and starting your own company are two different worlds. How did that transition happen for you?
It happened in the first half of 2018, after I found out about a dual degree program, the Master’s in Entrepreneurship offered by ESSEC Business School and CentraleSupélec, a French engineering school. The program involves two days of coaching, and three days focused on launching a business. For me, this was a good way of learning new business skills so that I could dive right in. We learned about business management, legal issues, fundraising, etc. So I was there from September 2018 to June 2019. That allowed me to focus on the project and to open a lot of doors through the alumni network. That’s also true of the ESME Sudria alumni network.
Maritime freight alone generates 12% of the world’s transportation-related CO2 emissions. Was it important for you for FinX to change things from the environmental perspective?
Yes. Our goal–of course–is to bring an innovative technology to market, but we also want to include a strong environmental component. Our first, small-power product will allow us to focus on electrical development for the nautical sector. Right now, electricity is only a small part of the market, but it’s increasing dramatically from year to year, with stricter and stricter standards that businesses have to comply with. To produce a higher-powered product in the next few years, motors will probably have to transition to a hybrid or thermal model. If you really want to go out to sea, you need a robust system that’s not going to break down in the middle of the ocean. That’s what we’re aiming for: replacing the propeller with an undulating system, to increase efficiency and decrease energy use, as compared to current technologies.
How many people work with you on project development?
Right now we’re a team of five, but it’s not just us. We also receive expert help with various things, from hydraulic simulations to mechanical things. We also have an advisory board including people from the sector, like the former CEO of the Beneteau group, and the CEO of Energy Observer. In the upcoming weeks, we’re planning on announcing FinX’s partnership with a famous French seaman. His reputation and experience will help us out a lot, specifically when it comes to sailors who often love innovation…when it’s installed on someone else’s boat !
Are you planning on an initial fundraising round?
We’re in the process of completing it. We raised 300,000 euros from various angel investors. All of them are in the nautical sector or the nautical industry, or they’re passionate about high growth-potential disruptive technology. This funding round was also made possible by an ESME Sudria alum! In addition, Bpifrance is planning to help us out with approximately the same amount, and we’re also counting on some bank loans and grants.
When are you hoping to bring your first motors to market?
In fact, we’ve already started taking pre-orders for a small line of 5 HP motors for launches and sailboats. Those will be delivered in June 2020. The goal is to launch a higher-powered line in 2020 with a motor company or a market leader. We’re hoping to sell a 100 HP motor which would be electric (hybrid) to reach a larger market. The 100-250 HP pleasure boating market is a lot larger than the small power market. At that level, if you can save enough energy, it has a bigger impact and is more appealing. In the next four to five years, there’s no reason you couldn’t power a yacht with our technology.
Want to learn more about biomimicry? Find FinX at the next nautical trade show or participate in the Engineering Careers Discovery Day at ESME Sudria Paris on Saturday, December 14!
Winner of the Embedded Systems category in the ESME Speed competition, the LiFyre project is designed especially for firefighters, to help them improve their own working conditions. A team of fifth-year students (ESME Sudria class of 2019) designed this innovative and useful project–Mohamed Bourguiba, HasnaDoghri and Camille Gendreau. We recently talked to these students about their project.
What’s the concept behind LiFyre?
Camille: LiFyre is an electronic body monitoring system for firefighters. It’s a device that firefighters wear when they’re working at a fire. The device gathers multiple types of data about the firefighter and the environment.
What type of data?
Mohamed: LiFyre gathers data on the firefighter’s body temperature inside his or her protective suit, as well as the outside temperature. It detects explosive gases and monitors carbon monoxide levels, tracks the firefighter’s heart rate, and monitors the levels in the firefighter’s oxygen tank. All of this information is sent in real time via Bluetooth to the fire chief, using an app that can be installed on a tablet.
How did you come up with the idea for LiFyre?
Hasna: When the firefighters are out on a call right now, they have no way to communicate with their chief outside the building that’s on fire. So they have no way to talk to each other if there’s a problem! That reality gave us the idea for LiFyre, so that they could let their chief know if there was some sort of health issue or if someone fell, and they could also do a better analysis of the situation from outside the building.
What did you enjoy about working on this project?
Mohamed: The innovation!
Camille: Yes! No one had ever done a project like this in the past, and it’s also a project that affects all of us: the firefighters are here for us every day, and working on LiFyre gave us a chance to help them. It’s really a useful project!
Hasna: I agree. We didn’t just want to do a final project; we wanted to create something that had a real-world application that could help people.
Did you work together with any firefighters while you were developing the project?
Mohamed: Our project advisor, Philippe Debadier, is a volunteer firefighter alongside his work as the coordinator for the Embedded systems major at ESME Sudria. He was the one who suggested that we focus on this topic, and he had Camille and Hasna come on a tour of the firehouse in Argenteuil where he works.
Camille: We were able to see the fire trucks and their equipment, and we also got to test out their firefighting suits to see if they could wear our device or not. We were also able to talk to the firefighters and see if they would find this device useful or not.
What’s the current status of the project?
Hasna: We have a working prototype, and we’ve also started developing an app with a database where they can enter the fire chief’s name, and the names, ages, and training levels of the working firefighters. We’re also planning another interface that would allow the chief to send a specific firefighter to a specific location, so that they can closely track each person.
Will you continue with that?
Camille: That’s the plan, yes. Future fifth year students will keep working on the development, and we’re sure that they’ll take it to the manufacturing stage, while adding new functions, like the option to have voice communication between the chief and the firefighters.
What was your biggest challenge during the LiFyre project?
Hasna: For me, it was having to comply with very specific specifications. Specifically, we had to use components that were extremely heat-resistant, up to the temperatures that the firefighters might have to deal with in real life. We also had to put together a large amount of components in only five months.
Camille: Also, the components use different technologies. In a short amount of time, we had to learn these technologies, and none of us were familiar with them. Finally, LiFyre also allowed us to work on different things–hardware when we created the electronic card, and the software to run it. That meant that we had to work across a number of disciplines, but that’s what ESME Sudria taught us to do!
An ESME Sudria student project, to create a 3D model of the aortic arch
Thomas Brasey and Sylvain Rajkoumar–students in the ESME Sudria Emerging Technologiesmajor, class of 2019–worked on a final project to create a 3D model of the aortic arch. After many months of work, Thomas and Sylvain won a prize in the first annual ESME Speed competition, for this innovative project that will be very useful to healthcare professionals.
The name of your project is “3D modeling of the aortic arch, to assist with pre-operative planning in interventional neurology.” What does that mean?
Thomas: To put it simply, this project required us to create a 3D model of an artery–the aortic arch, which is located just above the heart–to help neuro-radiologists to better prepare their interventional neurology treatments for conditions such as strokes and aneurysms, or just to observe the blood vessels in the brain. During these medical treatments, the doctor has to insert a catheter–basically a small camera in a tube–into the patient’s femoral artery, through a small incision in their thigh, and then thread the tube through the artery into the veins that we’re looking at, in the brain. The only problem being that, along the way, there’s a more complex path to take when you go through the aortic arch. Using MRI images, the surgeon does calculations ahead of time, to define what that artery is like, so that they can choose the correct type of catheter and how to position it. That’s where we get involved: because the traditional method takes a lot of time and can sometimes be even more difficult in the emergency situations that surgeons might be working in, that can result in incorrect data. During the procedure, the patient is under general anesthesia and is being X-rayed so that the catheter can be located in real time. Precious time is being lost, and that’s even more critical in an emergency situation where the lost time can result in a worse outcome for the patient. So we get involved before the procedure starts, to help it go more successfully.
How did you get interested in this project?
Sylvain: Well, last year, our supervising professor Yasmina Chenoune had supervised a final project to track the path of a catheter, and that was the starting point for our work. At the start of our project, she sent us a set of MRI images that had been taken by the MRI machine. Our goal was to compile those images and extract the ones that interested us–the images of the aorta–and do all kinds of things to allow doctors to plan their procedures more effectively through this 3D modeling.
Thomas: We weren’t the only ones working on the project, because we worked with a startup, Basecamp Vascular, that was finalizing an active catheter project. Catheters are usually passive, meaning that you have to move them manually through the artery. The advantage of an active catheter is that you can use a joystick to move it. We also worked with the Rothschild Foundation Hospital, a hospital specializing in neurology and ophthalmology.
And how does this device work for doctors?
Thomas: The doctor simply has to position a few cursors, and set a segmentation threshold around the desired part of the artery, and then it takes 5-10 minutes to do the modeling. That’s if you do the procedure on a standard PC like the one we used. But if you use a more powerful computer, it could go even faster, taking only a few minutes. That’s a real time savings.
What did you like about working on this project?
Thomas: Being able to connect our area of expertise with something concrete, in the real world, something we are passionate about and that helps society: the medical field. It’s very gratifying to develop a working project that can help health professionals.
Sylvain: It also allowed us to meet doctors, specifically doctors at the Rothschild Foundation Hospital, to better understand what they might experience during these procedures–the stress and the time that might be involved.
And what was your biggest challenge?
Thomas: Planning! We started with pictures, and from that we had to try to envision a piece of software that would be easy for doctors to use. In the end, it’s like explaining this project to people who aren’t engineers or doctors. You have to adapt it to the end user.
Always eagerly awaited by future engineering students, the ranking of the best French engineering schools by the magazine L’Usine Nouvelle has unveiled its results for the year 2020. This is an opportunity to see that ESME Sudria shines in this year’s ranking by many criteria and continues the fine progress it has made over the past five years.
43 places won since 2016 !
For this year, ESME Sudria is placed in 24th position in the general ranking of 122 engineering schools. This performance reflects a gain of 43 places for the past 5 years, rewarding its dynamism, development and innovative spirit.
ESME Sudria in the top 10 for professional integration and international outlook !
As a fundamental criteria for future engineers, professional integration is a priority at ESME Sudria. Cultivated by an educational approach that gives pride of place to the implementation of innovative projects (often in partnership with external actors) and internships in companies, this professionalizing dimension sought after by recruiters allows the school to be recognized on the essential criteria that are the compulsory duration of internships throughout the course (53 weeks cumulated), the ability of graduates to find a job in less than two months after obtaining their engineering degree (94.7%) and the gross annual salary at the end of the school (44,314 euros).
The school is also acclaimed for another essential component of its DNA: international openness. With its 50 partner universities around the world, ESME Sudria includes a compulsory academic semester abroadas part of its engineering curriculum and offers its students the possibility of completing a double degree or an internship outside of France. This approach enables it to rank among the top engineering schools on the international dimension.
In order to continue this dynamic, ESME Sudria will open an English-speaking programme at the start of the 2020 academic year, accessible from the preparatory cycle. Bilingual students or students who are very comfortable in English will be able to follow a 5-year course taught 100% in English alongside international students!
ESME Sudria shines in Paris… but also in the regions !
ESME Sudria’s latest Usine Nouvelle rankings also highlights the importance of ESME Sudria’s different campuses in Bordeaux, Lille and Lyon, placing the school in the top places in those regions.
ESME Sudria has been present in New Aquitaine since 2017 via its Bordeaux campus, and is therefore at the top of the local rankings. In the Hauts-de-France, with Lille campus established since 2012, ESME Sudria ranks 2ndthanks to its good performance in terms of professional integration and international development. Finally, in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, ESME Sudria comes in 6th place !
ESME Sudria alumnus, Raphael Presberg (class of 2018) is the co-founder of start-up Eiffo, incubated within IONIS 361. With his partner Alexis Tuil, he participated in the launch of Data Against Covid-19, an open source initiative that aims to better inform the evolution of the epidemic by region in France and which now has several hundred volunteers.
With Eiffo, Raphael Presberg and Alexis Tuil developed a predictive “customer health” score for Saas B2B companies that sell products with annual or monthly subscriptions. “This score allows the customer success teams of these companies to obtain objective visibility of their client portfolio through the data and to identify in advance the clients at risk in order to adapt their strategy”, explains the data and artificial intelligence engineer who embarked on the entrepreneurial adventure in January 2019. For all that, it is today for another adventure, citizen this time, that the ESME Sudria wished to speak with this Alumnus: it is Data Against Covid-19.
How did this idea of Data Against Covid-19 arise ?
Raphael Presberg: Everything started from a publication posted on Linkedin by Lior Perez, the Software Development & AI Lab manager at Meteo-France: we were then at the beginning of March and he called on Data Scientists to collect data. With Alexis, we decided to join him and, initially, there were only four of us. Our goal was then to try to start collecting data on the spread of Covid-19 in France by region, which did not exist. To do that, we would go through the regional and provincial newspapers… In short, all local news reports on the subject, to get information on the affected persons. The objective was to build a fairly granular data source, with a lot of information about the patients affected, so that we could then do some analysis on it.
When did the project start?
About two weeks ago. When we started, I took over the Grand Est region, where there were between 100 and 120 cases, and Alexis was responsible for the Île de France region, which was not very affected. Today, these figures have exploded. But counting the number of cases does not mean anything anymore because, in France, people are not tested in their majority. Without testing, the number of confirmed cases can always be recorded, but the total number of actual cases cannot be counted.
So has the initiative evolved rapidly?
Yes, along with the number of people involved. Very soon after the launch, other volunteers joined us. From four, we went to eight. We then created a small discussion group via the Slack app. At the same time, the number of patients increased at very high speed and it was therefore no longer possible to obtain information on these cases in a granular manner. Instead, we chose to collect data to not describe in detail the profiles of those affected, but to track the number of people affected by the disease by region and day. We trained together and pooled our work to achieve something solid. By March 8, there were twelve of us on the Slack to consolidate this data. And then, without knowing how, two or three days later, we found almost 450 “data guys” on the Slack, all ready to help! This immediately led to the creation of two data dashboards which enabled us to follow the evolution of the Covid-19. Today, the group continues to grow and we have to be over 900 volunteers. This leads to the development of many projects.
In addition to mapping the pandemic, what kind of projects are carried out?
We soon came into contact with state institutions, for example through people from Etalab, the organization whose primary mission is to digitize public institutions. We also approached the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) to understand what data it collected and sent to Santé publique France (French Public Health). Then there was some lobbying to make that data public so that we could work on it and compare it with the data we had put together. Alexis then spoke with epidemiologists and doctors to understand the needs. All this made it possible to launch new projects, mainly prediction projects. This concerns the prediction of the number of ICU beds in regions, the prediction of the epidemiological peak per department, the prediction of the number of masks, gels and people needed, the prediction of the number of real and cases tested, etc.
So, does this citizens’ initiative helps the authorities?
Yes. As a matter of fact, one of our dashboards is on the government website today. This was obviously made easier by the presence of Etalab people at our side who justified our credibility.
The aim is to help, of course, but do you think, this could be also a good way to make the general public understand the importance of data’s role, in respons to major issues at a national level?
It is above all a means of providing information in a purely quantitative way. The creation of these dashboards is also designed for the general public, or rather the general public already familiar with curve analysis, to enable them to understand the evolution of the epidemic.
Is your work also based on comparative analyses with past epidemics?
Initially, this was part of the projects we had, especially with the figures on the spread of the Ebola virus that Alexis had been working on. But in the end we were not able to implement it because we don’t have all the information and hindsight we need today. In order to analyse an epidemic, you need sufficient hindsight and data.
Do you have a website that allows to track your work?
We’re working on it right now. With the strong growth of our Slack Task Force, it seemed natural to us to create an internal and external communication team. We will soon be able to be present to communicate our work on social networks. In the meantime, we still have a website with the address of our Slack and our contacts (https://bzg.fr/covid19-developpeurs-datascientistes-comment-aider/).
So if developers, data scientists or community managers want to join the movement, they can still do so?
Of course! These profiles are welcome. We also need Project Managers, lawyers, data protection specialists… This is a truly open source initiative and everyone can come and help, with their skills, ideas and desires.
Finally, have you received direct requests from organizations to work on certain solutions? Can they also contact you?
Not yet. However, the AP-HP and Santé publique France have asked if, in our working group, people on fixed-term contracts or freelance could be available for missions to be carried out. On the other hand, we are forwarding our results to the DGS to challenge their models and its evolutions.
ESME Sudria could count on Lauriane Blandel, lnternational Development Officer, and Julie Wolff, International Mobility Coordinator, to represent the school at the stand during the event, which brought together Europe’s leading institutions as well as prominent schools from American and Asia. The two representatives took advantage of the three days they spent on the banks of the River Mersey by strengthening ties with partner universities and establishing new contacts for potential future collaborations. “Our goal is to optimize the outgoing mobility of our students by offering them an increasingly wide and attractive selection of partner universities to spend their mandatory 3rd year semester abroad, and by developing the possibilities of a double degree with an international school,” explains Lauriane Blandel. “During the EAIE conference, Julie and I had the chance to present existing ESME Sudria programs, as well as two new programs aimed at enhancing incoming mobility, namely the “Become a Maker” summer school program and an exchange program in English. Our partners were extremely interested in these prospects, and that should give rise to promising collaborations in the near future.”
11 of the 20 students from the ESME Sudria Class of 2018 who traveled to Beijing (Lianxiang Campus)
Photo credit: Inès Aras
“Since I had already had the chance to visit America during my free time, I decided after a few weeks’ reflection to set my sights on Asia, and more specifically China, for my 3rd year semester abroad. It was a new continent for me with an extremely different culture, one that would provide me with the opportunity both to learn Mandarin and improve my English. I was also (and especially) attracted to this land of superlatives and its incredible population growth (which has made Chinese one of the most spoken languages today), its new standing as the second global superpower, its nickname of “the world’s factory” because of its status as the world’s leading exporter, and its army, currently the largest of any country on the planet.
The Great Wall at Badaling
I finally settled on Beijing, the capital. On February 25, 2016, I embarked – along with around twenty other ESME Sudria students – on the trip of a lifetime. Upon arriving, we made our way to the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). Established in 1940 and home to more than 26,000 students annually, this public university specializes in science and technology but also boasts management and social studies departments. And we were not the only foreigners there: students from all over the world came to take classes as part of their B.S. or dual Master’s programs.
The Forbidden City
From left to right: a street food vendor in Beijing, a typical local dish, and the Great Wall of China
BIT has three campuses, two of which are in Beijing: Zhonguancun, in the downtown area, where the bulk of our courses were held, and a brand new campus in Lianxiang in the suburbs of Beijing, about an hour and a half from downtown by public transportation. Many of the students were housed on this new campus. During the first half of the semester, we had classes in C programming, data communication and networking, principles of data communication, and Chinese (which was optional). The second half included courses in communication and networking, semiconductors, and again Chinese. We had midterms and final exams in every subject. All the courses were taught in English by Chinese professors, who spoke the language fluently. Sometimes we were required to work in groups, such as in the C programming class, where we had one month to create a video game using the C programming language, each of us working in a group made up entirely of Chinese students.
Pollution in Beijing at the Olympic Stadium
In addition to my coursework and a feel for life at the university, I was left with amazing memories of my trip to China. It’s an extraordinary country that promises a good dose of culture shock and eccentricity. Although it was too short (it always is!), the semester provided me with a first impression of Chinese culture and the wonderful sites to visit. Chinese holidays allowed me to spend long weekends visiting just a small fraction of the country.
Two sides of Beijing
I am convinced a semester abroad is highly beneficial for students: the experience is immensely enriching, and serves you well into the future. You learn a real sense of personal responsibility, which arises from daily tasks such as filing paperwork or tidying up, organizing your schedule, establishing new contacts, etc. I learned a great deal about myself as well as others, and that helped me understand what I really want to accomplish in life. Exchange, conviviality, and open-mindedness are the three words I’d use to describe this experience. I have only one suggestion for future ESME students: dare to travel…and say yes to China!”
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About ESME Sudria
Founded in 1905, ESME Sudria trains multidisciplinary engineers, important professionals in the sectors of the technologies of the future: energy, systems and environment; on-board systems and electronics; images, signals and networks, digital intelligence and data. Its modern teaching method is derived from three components: the importance of innovative spirit; the omnipresence of projects and initiative; and a resolutely international, human, and cultural outlook. Since its creation, more than 14,000 engineers have graduated from its courses. ESME Sudria delivers a Master of Engineering certified by the Engineering Education Commission (CTI) and recognized internationally as a Master of Science.