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WORLD ENGINEERING DAY 2020: A YOUNG ALUMNUS PUTS HIS ENGINEERING SKILLS TO WORK TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

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For "World Engineering Day 2020" focusing on the subject of sustainable development, we propose a portrait of Maxime Efoui Hess.
A 2017 ISAE-SUPAERO graduate, he has made the fight against climate change his personal and professional leitmotif. Convinced that engineers have a major role to play in protecting the environment, this young graduate has taken an original route by joining The Shift Project, a general interest lobbying group working for an economy freed of carbon constraints. For him, engineers have the necessary technical skills and scientific vision to be able to change the current economic and industrial models, taking the environmental and social challenges into account.

FROM THE SPACE CONQUEST TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: A CLIMATE COMMITMENT

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Maxime Efoui, diplômé ingénieur ISAE-SUPAERO 2017

Just out of high school, Maxime Efoui Hess dreamed of working in space research. Fascinated by the human adventure of the space conquest, he came to ISAE-SUPAERO in 2013. During his gap year, he started to think about how he could include environmental issues in his professional life and comparing the similarities between climate and space. In both of these fields, which seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, you study a closed ecosystem to which no new resources can be added. And most importantly, there is greater awareness of our living planet and the detrimental effects that global warming has on it. Who better than an astronaut to have a comprehensive view of the Earth and to measure, from a distance, the impact of carbon constraints on its health?

In his 3rd year at ISAE-SUPAERO, he chose to follow the “Energy, Transport, Environment” program offered by the Institute. It was during this program that Maxime found out about The Shift Project, a general interest lobbying group advocating a scientific view that can bring engineering solutions to free us of carbon constraints. The Shift Project deals with concrete, physical problems, including technical expertise and scientific analyses. Ha was attracted to this and drew up a career path in line with his commitments.

At the end of his studies, Maxime joined this lobbying group to apply his engineering skills to the climate. This young graduate is certain of one thing: engineers have a role to play in every industrial project to include environmental notions from the outset and reduce ecological impact as much as possible.

ENGINEERS SHOULD USE THEIR SKILLS AND COMPREHENSIVE VISION TO CHANGE THE CURRENT MODEL

By joining The Shift Project, Maxime did not follow the traditional pathway of a graduate from a Grande École. And for a reason – he is convinced that engineers have a role to play in the ecological transition. Engineers learn to have a comprehensive view of the different phases of a project: from the origins to end use, from the choice of components to their recycling. Their role? Making the right decisions combining all the components, all the aspects, and all the objectives. Even if a decision is not directly connected to the climate at a given point in time, it can still be a game-changer. By contributing their technical and intellectual skills, engineers contribute to changing the model. When it comes to changing society’s model through the “engineer viewpoint”, the Grandes Écoles have a role to play.
At the end of 2019, The Shift Project issued a report on the place of the environment and climate in higher education programs. A strong demand was observed among students and research professors to take environmental constraints into account when setting up research projects and in training programs. Institutions of higher education are developing programs in which the environment is the central priority when implementing many actions to increase awareness and training students about their role in fighting climate change. These initiatives then need to be combined with a systemic view and prove to students that their skills are useful, and even essential, to modifying the current model and adapting it to climate change.

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STUDENT AWARENESS OF THE ECOLOGICAL STAKES

In September, at the start of the school year, 1st-year engineering students took part in a climate awareness day.
Caroline Bérard, Director of Engineering Training, reminded the 220 new students that “Aviation has met three challenges: getting planes to fly, making them safe, and widening access to them by bringing production costs down. There is now a fourth, and it will be up to you to meet it – designing decarbonized aircraft.” The tone was set!

More than 80% of first-year students at ISAE-SUPAERO want training in sustainable development.
In response to this desire, ISAE-SUPAERO now offers an “Energy Transition” module as part of the engineering program. In the 3rd year, students can choose the “Energy, Transport and Environment” module as a field of application. An “Environmental Engineering Certificate” is also open to all students in the ISAE Group.

CLIMATE AS A PRIORITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

In 2019, Olivier Lesbre, President, signed the manifesto put out by The Shift Project, a think tank working for an economy freed of carbon constraints. Recent work on teaching for climate and energy challenges in higher education have brought forth a strong desire in the higher education community and among students for an organized educational response to climate challenges. Over 80 heads of institutions and 1,000 professors and researchers at the top of a list of some 7,500 signatories have called upon the French government to "initiate a transition strategy for higher education that places the climate as the primary emergency".

ISAE-SUPAERO RESEARCH: powerful initiatives to invent the sustainable air transport of tomorrow

Through several research chairs, we are working on new high-quality air transport concepts.
- The Cedar Chair, “Chair for Eco-Design of AiRcraft”, created by Airbus 6 years ago, provides support for research on innovative concepts to prepare the next generations of transport aircraft.
- The Safran-AEGIS Chair launched in 2016 focuses on reducing the environmental footprint (pollution emissions and noise) of aeronautical propulsion by working on new formulas for integrating engines and the airframe.
- Launched in 2019, the Daher Chair works on carrying out research on the design and certification of light aircraft using hybrid electric propulsion.

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