THE ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING CERTIFICATE AT ISAE-SUPAERO, A SOLUTION FOR TRAINING FUTURE ENGINEERS IN THE CHALLENGES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
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In a context in which the environment is at the center of everyone’s concerns, ISAE-SUPAERO is implementing solutions for training and developing the role of tomorrow’s engineers in the ecological & energy transition.
As part of the actions by the CEDAR Chair (Airbus), the Environmental Engineering Certificate is for third-year students in the Engineering Programs at ISAE-SUPAERO and the schools in the ISAE Group. It is taught by contributors with a variety of profiles from industry, research centers, schools or self-employed people.
Today, we know that industries and engineers in particular have an essential role to play in the energy and environmental transition.
Interview with a contributor, Nicolas Tantot (Safran Aircraft Engines), and a student, Coline Jacobs, who took part in the Environmental Engineering Certificate program this year.
- Nicolas Tantot, could you please introduce yourself?
N.T. I am an ISAE-SUPAERO graduate (class of 2002) and I have been working for 18 years at Safran Aircraft Engines where I have a role as the lead expert in preliminary design for engines at the design office. More specifically, I am in charge of coordination and orientation for preliminary design activities for upstream concepts, this term designating the identification and evaluation of the motorization options available with long-term horizons for entry into service, i.e. beyond 2030. This activity includes coordination for in-house activities at Safran as well as the management and development of interactions with our external partners in a context of European and academic cooperation, notably including aeropropulsive research activities at ISAE-SUPAERO, more particularly with the AEGIS research chair supported by Safran.
- Can you tell us about your role in implementing the Environmental Engineering Certificate?
N.T. I have been contributing since we started the Certificate program in 2015, the aim being to provide an understanding of the environmental context of aeronautical propulsion, as well as the knowledge students need to understand the energy and thermodynamic principles governing engine design, the orders of magnitude of the physical quantities involved, and how to implement these tendencies through engine size simulations.
This approach is rounded out with an inventory of corporate R&T actions and an overview of the alternative options available, their level of maturity and the obstacles remaining to be overcome. My involvement has changed with each year of the Certificate program in order to adapt to the broader profiles of students from the schools in the ISAE Group attending the Certificate program, as well as, naturally, developments in the environmental context in which the aeronautical sector is working, which has undergone major changes in recent years.
- You contributed to the topic "Propulsive Systems of the Future" – can you explain this to us in a few words? And how can students apply this knowledge in their future work world?
N.T. This topic is aimed at shedding light on the physics of aeronautical propulsion in order to understand the difficulties and obstacles, then to give an overview of the options available. This approach covers alternative energy sources to fossil fuels such as jet fuel, the keys to improving the effectiveness of the energy transformation in engines, and the optimum physical and energy integration of engines into the airframe. This is accompanied by an overview of the current state of the art and the projects and cooperation underway, notably in the European context.
The purpose of this approach is to give students a comprehensive view of the technological and physical challenges involved in propulsion, as well as the elements contributing to the development of a critical analysis of the many technological breakthroughs announced in a context of increasing environmental challenges. It is also an opportunity to give them a greater view of the nature and progression of the research efforts that have been undertaken for a long time through a collective effort by industries and academic stakeholders in the sector, notably through support from the European Commission.
- Why did you want to get involved alongside our students?
N.T. I had been working for a long time as a contract teacher in the engineering program at ISAE-SUPAERO, so the Certificate naturally looked like an opportunity to expand my range of work to the field of the environmental impact of propulsion. These educational interventions have also reinforced the partnership between Safran and the Institute, providing better mutual understanding of student profiles and the kind of activities carried out in industry.
- Coline Jacobs, could you introduce yourself?
C.J. My name is Coline Jacobs, and I’m a double-degree student in the 3rd year of the engineering program at ISAE-SUPAERO. Originally from Belgium (Université libre de Bruxelles), I came to the Institute for my second year of studies. I chose the fluid dynamics section, in the aircraft design field.
- Why did you choose to take the Environmental Engineering Certificate program at ISAE-SUPAERO? What did you get out of it?
C.J. My internship was postponed because of the lockdown so I had plenty of time to enroll for the Certificate. I was very interested in the topics and I decided to take all the courses, all the way through to the presentation of our project, which marks the end of the Certificate program and the culmination of our work. This Certificate gives a comprehensive view of environmental issues from many angles, such as the technical, social and chemical aspects. The approach was less technical than what they teach in our classes.
All future engineers need to be informed about the subject of sustainable development. This Certificate showed us how much has been put in place in industries today, but this is not enough to achieve carbon neutrality. There has been technological progress with great promise for reducing CO2 emissions, but not yet enough to meet the commitments taken by the aviation sector. We must take action and work to change habits more generally, which concerns all populations.
From a professional point of view, this Certificate inspired me to work on improving engines, a topic that fits in well with my specialization.
- Which subjects left their mark on you?
C.J. Many of us who participated in this Certificate program remember the simulation that consisted in seeing how we could reduce our CO2 consumption to get it down to 2 metric tons per year and per inhabitant. This was a very tricky exercise in which we were in the government’s shoes, with a budget to deploy actions in favor of sustainable development. We realized the importance of making certain choices rather than others. And the importance of heightening awareness for everyone, starting at the earliest age. It was a very meaningful, down-to-earth exercise.
- Tell us about the project you worked on, "Engine Improvements & Failures"? What did you learn from it?
C.J. Our project consisted in understanding how to make an airplane cleaner by trying to hybridize its propulsion. We were a group of 5 people, and each of us had to work on a topic. I mainly worked on the technology bricks to understand what kinds of energy sources could replace jet fuel or how to deploy new technologies that could be converted into electricity. I learned something important – electrification shifts CO2 emissions, because even though planes or electric cars do not emit it directly, this electricity’s origin (wind farms or coal-fired power plants, for example) still has a significant impact on the CO2 produced. So it is important to encourage decarbonized energy sources such as renewables or nuclear power to generate electricity.
THE 2020 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING CERTIFICATE
Current situation and environmental diagnosis: Understanding the challenges, measuring & defining the problem correctly.
Toward more virtuous aviation: Identifying solutions in the aeronautical sector & outlook.
Transport, economics and environment: Rethinking mobility (technical solutions, organizational solutions, etc.).
The 2020 Grand Oral:
The students’ different projects were presented before the jury on Thursday, May 28th and Friday, May 29th, 2020. The orals were held by video conference given the health context.
The 42 candidates were divided into 9 groups:
Carbon Offset (afforestation & soil storage); Rodolphe Meyer, independent
Carbon Offset (capture techniques); Rodolphe Meyer, independent
Alternative fuels; Ludivine Pidol, IFPEN
Engine improvements & failures; Nicolas Tantot, Safran
Relevance of long-haul flights; Emmanuel Bénard, Supaero
Biomimetics; Vincent Chapin, Supaero
Operations (electric Taxi); Frédéric Crancée, Consultant
Hydrogen solutions for decarbonizing aviation; Florian Simatos, Supaero
International governance; Valentina Chamrai, Vinci Airport
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