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The economist UTC engineer

Dis­cov­er­ing and becom­ing your real self, hon­ing your new-found poten­tial, reveal­ing your­self as a future pro­fes­sion­al; these are the leit­mo­tifs of Com­piègne Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy when it comes to defin­ing the path of its stu­dents. With five spe­cial­ties and twen­ty or so cours­es, stu­dents are “spoilt” when it comes to build­ing their pro­fes­sion­al project. But some decide to ven­ture down more wind­ing paths and find their own way. This is the case of Matthieu Bor­de­nave, 24 years old, fresh­ly grad­u­at­ed from UTC and on his way to a career as an economist.

Matthew’s jour­ney is like walk­ing along a pro­file that seems tra­di­tion­al at first sight. He was first an excel­lent lycée stu­dent in his final sci­ence stream year and with his bac­calau­re­ate S in hand, Matthieu ven­tured into the first year of a sci­en­tif­ic prepara­to­ry class. A course that did not suit him and he decid­ed to leave after one year. He then went through the DUT before gain­ing admis­sion to UTC’s third year «Of course I knew of UTC by rep­u­ta­tion and I want­ed to get into a train­ing cur­ricu­lum which mix­es sci­ences and humanities. 

So here he was, pro­pelled at the dawn of autumn 2018 at UTC into UTC’s Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing major branch. Of his three years spent in the lec­ture halls of the engi­neer­ing school, the young man has excel­lent sou­venirs: «Fol­low­ing an engi­neer­ing course allowed me to struc­ture my think­ing and to acquire prac­ti­cal skills in pro­gram­ming for exam­ple, he con­fides. It is also an intense mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary back­ground with mecha­tron­ics, hydraulics, etc.» 

But one meet­ing will defin­i­tive­ly trans­form the des­tiny of the stu­dent-engi­neer, that of David Flach­er, lec­tur­er – doc­tor­al super­vi­sor — at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris 13, direc­tor of the research cen­tre in Eco­nom­ics of Paris Nord and lec­tur­er at UTC. I took a fas­ci­nat­ing intro­duc­to­ry course in eco­nom­ics and imme­di­ate­ly the themes he was talk­ing about spoke to me,» says the young man. I went to see him at the end of the course to ask him ques­tions and to nour­ish my train of thought. Very quick­ly, an intel­lec­tu­al com­plic­i­ty was estab­lished between the stu­dent and his teacher; Math­ieu was nour­ished by the rec­om­men­da­tions of read­ings and con­fer­ences pro­vid­ed by his teacher, and the lat­ter saw this stu­dent eager for knowl­edge kind­ly. And some­thing obvi­ous emerged in Matthieu’s mind: «I loved the cours­es I was tak­ing as part of my engi­neer­ing course, but I was pas­sion­ate about eco­nom­ics,» he says. So for two years, while con­tin­u­ing his engi­neer­ing course, the stu­dent enrolled at the CNAM to take eco­nom­ics class­es by cor­re­spon­dence. This was enough to obtain 24 addi­tion­al ECTS cred­its (CCs). This was a good com­ple­ment to his engi­neer­ing course and a sol­id pass­port to fur­ther stud­ies in the field. After nego­ti­a­tions, he obtained an intern­ship as a junior econ­o­mist at the French Devel­op­ment Agency (AFD). This is a dream for any aspir­ing econ­o­mist. «The approach to eco­nom­ics that I have is to rethink tra­di­tion­al mod­els in the light of the cli­mate and eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tions that we are going to under­go. AFD was an ide­al play­ground to be able to advance in this sec­tor. In Feb­ru­ary 2021, h e will join a depart­ment set up by Gaël Giraud, a renowned econ­o­mist whose work has been unan­i­mous­ly acclaimed. The objec­tive of his missions? 

«To cre­ate a new eco­nom­ic mod­el inte­grat­ing cli­mate and bio­di­ver­si­ty loss into its analy­ses. The begin­nings were com­pli­cat­ed for the stu­den­tengi­neer. Long accus­tomed to physics prob­lems and the arse­nal of for­mu­las to answer them, he found him­self hav­ing to move through the eco­nom­ic lit­er­a­ture in an attempt to devel­op the right for­mu­la to analyse the impacts of tran­si­tions in the eco­nom­ic world. It is a com­mit­ment that is above all per­son­al. «Like many young peo­ple of my time, I won­der about the peri­od we are liv­ing through and the impact it will have on indi­vid­u­als and the plan­et. With the sup­port of the AFD, Matthieu Bor­de­nave final­ly devel­oped a mod­el com­bin­ing two stud­ies: one the­o­rised by Gaël Giraud him­self and pre­sent­ing the impact of tem­per­a­ture ris­es on the econ­o­my, the oth­er found in the sci­en­tif­ic lit­er­a­ture and putting the eco­nom­ic impact of agro­forestry into per­spec­tive. From his analy­sis it emerges, with cal­cu­la­tions to back it up, that a halt to defor­esta­tion by 2050 and refor­esta­tion by 2100 could have sub­stan­tial impacts on mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change. That is the broad out­line. The details of his work are being writ­ten up in the pri­va­cy of his stu­dent room, and he plans to sub­mit them to sci­en­tif­ic jour­nals in the com­ing weeks. «When I pre­sent­ed my research in my depart­ment, my tutor told me that if I worked even hard­er on for­mal­iz­ing my research process, I could expect a prop­er pub­li­ca­tion. This is a dream for any­one who plans to become a lec­tur­erre­searcher in economics. 

The first UTC student admitted to the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree 

But before that, anoth­er dream came true in Sep­tem­ber: when he was admit­ted to fol­low EPOG, a pres­ti­gious Eras­mus Mundus master’s pro­gramme, a col­lab­o­ra­tion between a dozen insti­tu­tions and uni­ver­si­ties around the world, sup­port­ed by the Euro­pean Union. «The Eco­nom­ic POli­cies for the Glob­al tran­si­tion master’s degree offers the best stu­dents from Europe and from the world the oppor­tu­ni­ty to study and work in the field of eco­nom­ics and tran­si­tion poli­cies. This two-year course, acces­si­ble in var­i­ous Euro­pean uni­ver­si­ties — includ­ing UTC — allows its stu­dents to explore the impact of dig­i­tal, social and eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tions with eco­nom­ics over­ar­ch­ing. Around 50 hand­picked stu­dents are select­ed each year to join the Master’s pro­gramme. I am the first stu­dent from UTC to fol­low this pro­gramme,» says Matthieu. “It is a real pride for me because it allows me to go even fur­ther in my work in eco­nom­ics and to real­ly con­sid­er launch­ing a research career”. 

The icing on the cake is that the stu­dent was part of the small cohort select­ed for a mer­it-based schol­ar­ship. «There were five of us in the entire class who obtained it, and it was an impor­tant sig­nal to show my par­ents that even though I was an engi­neer, this new world of eco­nom­ics was open to me. For the future, Matthieu there­fore plans to work in the world of research and teach­ing, with a strong empha­sis on the world’s cur­rent eco­log­i­cal sit­u­a­tion. There is still a long way to go for the young man who could, why not, lec­ture on eco­nom­ics at UTC in the future… (inter alia).

Le magazine

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