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47: The student associations or “assos”: a treasure for UTC and its surrounding territory

UTC fosters and encourages the associative life of its students. Not only does it contribute strongly to the students’ personal and professional life styles, but it is also an important territorial asset for the university, notably building up a reservoir of talent and creativity that can lead to new innovations and boost economic activities.

47: The student associations or “assos”: a treasure for UTC and its surrounding territory

When engineers defend ecological transition

The BDE pole ‘Technology & Entrepreneurship’ covers some 20 “asso” that revolve round sharing knowledge, innovation and the professional personal development for the UTC students. Among these, we have OVD, short for “On veut Durable” [We want a sustainable world]. 

 

 

They are young, destined to become professional engineers and want to be at the front line of environmental transition. With is credo as their guiding force, they joined OVD. “OVD came to be two years ago and now has just over 20 members”, recalls William Boffy, President of OVD « The first self-assigned objective was to join up with ‘Precious Plastic’”.


The latter is a project launched by a young Dutch designer, which aims at democratizing the recycling processes for plastics using relatively simple, inexpensive machines, with the machine drawings and specs free on line: a grinder to transform wastes into a new raw material and injectors to meld new objects. The student members of OVD wanted to see some of these machines installed at UTC to provide a new life for plastic products. But they did not just content themselves by using the Precious Plastic technical drawings. Special added value units were installed with help from the UTC lecturers, to redesign the grinders. The objective here was to optimize safety considerations so that demonstrations could be made during various ‘public events’” and, on top of this, to integrate the ‘Precious Plastic” concept in the UTC curriculum.

This is an emblematic intuitive set by the OVD members. But they also aim to advocate a sustainable campus. Besides the ‘Precious Plastic’ venture, OVD has several actions underway to develop waste recycling – installing paper bins in the ‘centre universitaire” (residences, etc.), a co-run project with the CROUS, that will enable recycling of the food wrappings and containers at the university restaurant and cafeteria and to monitor change in user habits. Plus, a project to compost organic waste at the residency. Moreover and at its own initiative, the CROUS now offers vegetarian menus at the restaurant, even before this became common practice elsewhere in France. “We have made students aware of this issue and it has proven to be a success”, explains William Boffy: “Approximately 25% of the meals served today are “vegetarian””

Another vision for a professional prospect

The second major aim of the “asso” is to advocate and promote the teaching of sustainable development at UTC and, beyond this, to instil a debate on the role of engineers in tomorrow’s economy and to measure the impact of environmental challenges on their training. “We are communicating more and more on this subject to underline that there can be other ways to live and work as engineers”, adds William Boffy. “On our YouTube page we display interviews we obtained with two UTC professors, the economist Yann Moulier-Boutang and the philosopher, Bernard Stiegler.

We also meet ‘strongly committed’ engineers, like Mathieu Labonne, Director of Colibris, a movement that encourages local initiatives that serve Mankind and the Life.

 In the spring of 2019, the OVD plans to organize a Forum focusing on the theme of sustainable development, designed to help students either looking for information, or an internship or even for a first professional job to encourage them to attend these lectures and meet the actors of environmental transition. “We want to attract SMEs and NGOs engaged in the field of sustainable development and NGOs – for this reason, Forum attendance will be free of charge”, explains William Boffy. In the framework of their lab.work and tutorials, students doing a Project management CC will help plan the event and assess the cost of setting it up and running the Forum.

The ultimate aim of the OVD “asso” will be to simply … disappear! “Our failure will sign our success”, concludes a smiling William Boffy. “When we disappear, this will imply that the sustainable development concept has become an integral part of UTC habits, and in this light OVD will no longer have any reason to continue to exist”.


The volunteers speak out -

 Majoring in computer science and its applications at UTC, William Boffy was offered an internship in line with his “asso” commitments…

 

 “I’m off to the Indian Ocean Island La Réunion in September, for a six-month internship at the Home Office of a Overseas Local Authority with the largest natural reserve in France, viz., the Austral & Antarctic Territories. My mission will be to redefine a data bank to be used by research scientists. The experience I gained with the “asso” OVD helped me considerably. During the interviews, lots of questions focused on my commitments in the field of sustainable development and my interest in Nature, which goes back a long way. Before I was admitted to UTC-Compiegne, I had already done an internship in the Ethology, Cognition and Development Laboratory at the university of Paris-Nanterre, which notably studies animal behaviour.”