Available online :

- Yves Gourinat is Professor of Structural Physics in the Department of Structural Mechanics and Materials (DMSM) at ISAE-SUPAERO.
- Already a corresponding member since 2019, he has just been elected a full member of the French Air and Space Academy.

Keys dates

- 1984: Graduated from ENSMA - Engineering degree and DEA, Mechanics & Materials
- 1985: Graduated from Supaéro - Master’s degree in Aerospace Mechanics, Space, then National Service at Supaero
- 1986: Engineer in the industry (Aerospatiale Avions) to do a PhD thesis (defended in 1989) and participate in the A340 program (composites)
- 1993: Associate Professor at Ensica, hired to set up a Space program
- 2003: joins Supaéro as Professor of Structural Mechanics in the Department of Structural Mechanics and Materials (DMSM)
- 2007: obtains his HDR - Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches - in Solid Mechanics, Structures, Materials, and Surfaces from the University of Poitiers.
- 2011: qualified as a University Professor by the Conseil National des Universités (French National University Council)
- 2012: becomes Director of the Aeronautics-Astronautics Doctoral School (until 2016)
- 2013: appointed Deputy Director of the Institut Clément-Ader, Head of the Aeronautical and Space Structures Specialized Master® program, and Head of the Mechanics of Structures and Materials Department at ISAE-SUPAERO (until 2018).
- 2024: elected full member of the French Air and Space Academy.

Passionate about music from an early age, Yves Gourinat wasn’t predestined for a career in the sciences.

It was at the age of 7 that he discovered his passion for aeronautics: “When I saw the picture of the Concorde, I said to myself, that’s what I want to do”. At the time, his love of physics was “completely inseparable from music”, and after completing his studies at the conservatory, he continued to pursue both at the same time until he was 19.

“A true enthusiast”: that’s how he defines himself. After hesitating between music and physics, it was physics that finally won out professionally.

This “free electron”, with a conservatory and university background, passed the ENSI entrance exam (now known as the Concours Commun Polytechniques) and entered ENSMA, from which he graduated in 1984 with a major in Materials.

A career in three vocations

First, he was drawn to teaching. He owes this in particular to Didier Bellet, professor of mechanics at Supaéro, “an extraordinary personality”, who took him under his wing as an assistant for a year as part of his national service.

It was during this period that his first opportunity arose, in the year he turned 25: “He phoned me up one Sunday to say, I’ve got the flu, can you do my lecture for me tomorrow?”.

A first lecture was given, and the wheels were set in motion!

“I get a lot of pleasure out of giving lectures, because for me, it’s theatrical improvisation. I arrive at a lecture without any notes, and that’s what fascinates the students! My main accessory is a pair of glasses. Improvisation has a big place, it’s the heritage of the conservatory, and of the Organ!”.

After obtaining his ENSMA engineering diploma and his doctoral thesis at SUPAERO, he joined Airbus in 1990 (formerly Aérospatial Division Avions), where he stayed for 4 years as Composite Structures Engineer on the A340.

A turn to space

In 1994, he flew to Russia for 6 weeks for a SOYOUZ-MIR training course at the Star City (a childhood dream).

At the same time, he went back to school and became an associate professor at ENSICA, helping to set up a Space department alongside Pierre Sintes, for whom he was already doing vacation work: he worked with him for 10 years on launcher dynamics and manned flight safety.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if he hadn’t hired me. I owe my vocation in space to him.”

At ISAE-SUPAERO, "telling the science story”

It was finally in 2003 that he returned to SUPAERO to replace Serge Larose - with whom he had established an “old tradition” by replacing him in the lecture hall whenever the opportunity arose - as associate professor.

But also to follow the advice of his first mentor, Didier Bellet (“You’ve got to do research”), by becoming Director of Research, after passing his HDR - Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches - in 2007.

“Scientific research is a permanent transgression: you have to go where others don’t go”.

Since 2008, Yves Gourinat has been head of the Advanced Master “Aeronautical And Space Structures“. He is also an Associate Professor of Structural Mechanics in the Structures and Materials Mechanics Department, teaches biophysics at the Université Paul-Sabatier and also lectures at the University of Texas at Arligton.

In 2011, the International Astronautical Federation awarded him the Malina Astronautics Medal, a worldwide medal awarded each year to a single individual, in recognition of scientific and educational commitment to the service of Space.

Today, the physicist is fully devoted to his vocation for aeronautics, through his teaching and research on his fields of application: cryogenic tanks, living cells and hull thermodynamics. Teaching, the common thread running through his career, remains at the heart of his commitment, as he currently supervises four PhD students… bringing to 24 the number of PhD students he has supervised throughout his career!

The recognition of a brilliant career

Invited to all Academy sessions since 2015, it was in 2019 that Yves Gourinat was elected a corresponding member by the French Air and Space Academy. There, he joins various aircraft certification working groups to act as a link between the Academy and the school’s national and international aerospace activities.

Five years later, this emeritus member, already active in several learned societies including 3AF, is appointed titular member, and gladly takes on “more responsibilities and duties to honor the Institute and enhance its prestige”.

He will be officially introduced on December 6, 2024, alongside Stéphanie Lizy-Destrez, recently elected corresponding member, at the Salle des Illustres in Toulouse’s Capitole building!

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