Our Alumni speak: François Descamps, Head of Systems Development at Liebherr Aerospace Toulouse

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A 2003 ISAE-SUPAERO graduate currently working at Liebherr Aerospace Toulouse, François Descamps talks about his studies at the Institute and the career choices that have guided his professional life so far.

François DESCAMPS Liebherr
François DESCAMPS, Alumni et Responsable Développement Systèmes chez Liebherr Aerospace Toulouse

Can you tell us about your background?

At the end of my studies at ENSICA (before it merged with SUPAERO to form ISAE-SUPAERO), I joined Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse in 2003 for my end-of-studies internship. This rewarding experience was an opportunity to study, design, produce and then test an innovative solution on a turbomachine. I was hired as a mechanical designer the following year to work on steam cycle air conditioning packs. I then worked as a designer and later a project manager for the development of various pieces of equipment that make up air systems.
This experience led me to seek out a wider view of technical subjects related to our systems and to work with aircraft manufacturers for their definition and integration into aircraft. Then I joined the systems development department, first to take part in the design of air systems then to steer development as a project manager.
This position as a system development project manager, including technical responsibility for the system developed, reaffirmed my taste for coordinating teams and activity, while keeping a multidisciplinary technical dimension. That is why I was very interested and seized the opportunity to take up the position of Head of Systems Development.
My career choices have been governed by two needs – the desire to continue learning more in the technical field, and participation in organizing activities collaboratively with all the professions involved in our developments.

What are your role and your responsibilities as Head of Systems Development at Liebherr?

I am in charge of R&T projects at systems development. R&T projects focus on analyzing future needs in air systems and thermal management, identifying innovative technological solutions and bringing them to maturity to propose them to our customers in the acquisition phase.
My job consists in coordinating a team of project managers working on the programs (in a matrix organization) as well as ensuring that our activities are relevant and performed efficiently, in collaboration with all the in-house and outside stakeholders. It is of utmost importance for us to make sure that the efforts made have the right focus and are promoted to prepare our future.
We work on innovations to meet the growing environmental and health challenges that are in the news, but we also maintain our monitoring and innovation efforts on other subjects necessary for ensuring out future, such as incremental innovation and diversification.

How did your studies at ISAE-SUPAERO contribute to your experience?

The multidisciplinary training at ISAE-SUPAERO gives a solid understanding of the basics covering a wide range of aeronautical professions. This was useful to me for coordinating different activities and people involved in projects, as well as for discussions and technical negotiations with our customers and suppliers on a wide variety of subjects.
Another key point in the program was learning about collaborative work, whether in pairs or in teams. The profession of engineer is rarely done alone and you have to learn how to organize and make the most of this collaboration.

The strength of the ISAE-SUPAERO engineering program is that it covers a wide range of subjects, from machining and fluid mechanics to signal processing... all subjects that I have come across during my career!

What had the greatest impact on you during your studies at ISAE-SUPAERO?

I remember the passion of everyone involved in teaching for the program, whether in their technical specialty, their business or more generally in aeronautics or space. This passion made it easy to talk with them, especially when they talked about their experiences and shared their professional stories with us.
Another aspect I would like to mention is the added value of outside instructors who help students to understand the diversity and the realities of aeronautics and space professions so that they can imagine themselves in their future careers.
An anecdote? An original experience that you had at ISAE-SUPAERO that you would like to share?
A few years ago, as I was rummaging through some boxes, I found a mechanic’s vise with "ENSICA" inscribed on it, which we had made in the machining workshop. It now sits proudly on my workbench and regularly reminds me of the hours I spent in that workshop on the different machine tools.
The strength of the ISAE-SUPAERO engineering program is that it covers a wide range of subjects, from machining and fluid mechanics to signal processing... all subjects that I have come across during my career!

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