ENGINEERING STUDIES IN FRANCE: THE DIPLÔME D’INGÉNIEUR
The ParisTech schools follow the French engineering education system. Students receive a comprehensive education in engineering sciences and acquire a high level of expertise in their chosen scientific field. Alongside this, they benefit from training in areas such as leadership, humanities, social sciences and project management to help them become well-rounded, versatile graduates.
The aim of the ParisTech schools is to train engineers who:
- Have a high level of multicultural competence and a solid grounding in their discipline
- Are equipped to work within different sectors of activity
- Are able to adapt to professional life and apply scientific and technological solutions to societal challenges
- Are internationally minded and open to the world around them
This reflects the expectations of today’s employers, who are looking for talented engineers, entrepreneurs, managers and researchers.
Interdisciplinarity, excellence and innovation
French engineering institutions like the ParisTech schools are renowned for their interdisciplinary programmes of study and their commitment to excellence in education. The diplôme d’ingénieur is a Master’s level qualification that allows graduates to pursue their studies at PhD level if they wish to do so.
Engineering courses in France incorporate three types of training:
- High-level scientific and technical training in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, etc., allowing students to acquire:
- Knowledge and understanding of a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines
- Critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills
- The ability to identify, model and solve problems (even if they are poorly defined)
- The ability to design, develop, test and validate solutions, methods, products, systems and services
- The ability to find, evaluate and use data effectively and efficiently
- Training in complementary fields such as the humanities and social sciences (economics, law, management, etc.), communication, design and foreign languages, which increases students’ awareness and understanding of economic, environmental, societal and ethical challenges. The ParisTech schools also introduce their students to entrepreneurship and offer support to those who want to launch their own start-up.
- Training in soft skills and professional skills, including:
- Team work and/or remote working
- How to manage a team in a business setting
- Techniques for adapting to different cultural and technological environments
- Project management skills
- Negotiation skills
The schools place a strong emphasis on innovative teaching practices. 30 to 50% of classes are practical sessions, and students work both independently and in groups, as team work is a key skill for any future engineer. Mandatory internships (1–6 months) are another key feature of the courses. This introduction to professional life helps students adopt a systemic approach to the type of problems and situations they may encounter in their future career.
Small class sizes and a very high staff-to-student ratio (1 to 5 students per teacher) mean that students benefit from a learning experience that is truly tailored to their needs. And last but not least, the schools’ teaching teams comprise both permanent lecturers and researchers who are world-renowned experts in their fields, and professionals from various sectors.
The courses have a strong international dimension:
All students spend at least 12 weeks working or studying abroad as part of their course (exchange programme, overseas internship, double degree with a partner university, etc.)
Students learn in a multi-cultural environment: international students represent up to 30% of the student body depending on the school
At all of the schools in France, part of the curriculum is taught in English
Teaching is both grounded in research and geared towards helping students become researchers themselves. Students learn how to:
- Combine theoretical and practical knowledge
- Ensure rigour in their work
- Express their ideas clearly
Students benefit from close contact with research staff and access to the schools’ research laboratories. Innovation and technology transfer are facilitated through cooperation between these laboratories and the R&D departments of companies.
The engineering courses run by the ParisTech schools lead to the official diplôme d’ingénieur qualification, meaning that graduates can go on to do a PhD. Across the network, between 10 and 70% of students choose this route. Some complete their PhD in one of the laboratories in the network, and others choose to work at laboratories elsewhere in France or abroad. In recent years this has included EFPL, ETHZ, Imperial College London, Nanyang Technological University, the Technical University of Munich, the University of Arizona and the University of Oxford.
Close ties with industry and business
The schools maintain close ties with industry and business as follows:
- Teaching includes sessions led by working professionals
- Students work on case studies and real-world business scenarios
- Classes include supervised group assignments in which students tackle technological projects defined by a partner company or organisation
- Students take part in events on the theme of entrepreneurship (e.g. talks and workshops, the “Une nuit pour entreprendre” (“Entrepreneur for a night”) challenge run by the École des Ponts ParisTech)
- Students complete internships in companies
- Former students return to give presentations about their company and the various roles within it
- Student cohorts are sponsored by companies, who give talks, arrange site visits, offer one-on-one support, etc.
- Some schools run apprenticeship schemes
Enriching extra-curricular activities
The many and varied extra-curricular activities on offer at the schools play an equally important role in students’ education. Whether it’s chairing the committee of a student society, learning how to run a study as a member of a junior enterprise, organising and running events, or managing projects, students acquire valuable skills that are much sought-after by employers.
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