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60s. to describe a placement!

UTC is well-known for producing multi-facet, wide-ranging engineers. They can be top-notch technically or skilful managers, or a mix of both – this is largely due to the cursus structure, with its 6 elective majors and 24 optional specialties that opens the way to innumerable professional opportunities. That is why there is no stereotype profile for a UTC graduate … This month’s ‘dossier’ looks at this rich diversity and invites the students to tell us how they perceived their last placement, just before they are invited to their much-awaited UTC graduation ceremony? The following short stories, in a sense, help the future graduates to project themselves into a job context. We shall be able to follow their first steps. Twice a year, 1 000 industrial training officers, UTC’s pedagogical tutors and the trainees meet for the poster session day devoted to the placements. The students have 15 minutes each to valorise their experience!

60s. to describe a placement!

Bio-Engineering (UTC-GB)

 

Léa

specialty: Bio-medical engineering

Placement descriptor: to head a computer project for pharmaceutical product preparations

What are the requisites for the job? Léa knows them well. No doubt the team she was with will be hosting a new undergraduates in the coming weeks. So, Léa defines the profile for us. As she sees it, "it is impossible to be successful if you are not good in writing skills and inter-personal relations". Chemists, nurses, medical practitioners, paediatricians ... Léa noted the functional needs expressed by each category and drafted a specification for the purpose of installing a new software package to attain new and better levels of efficiency. For the time being, paper 'rules the day', so to speak. So how should one proceed? How do you prioritise the tasks? The objective of Léa's placement and assignment was to computerize the management and handling of over-the-counter preparations, as per prescriptions. In other words, all preparations not sold in blisters or manufactured industrially. "Home-made", you might add. "If it's for children, the preparation can be cut or diluted". The spec? 80 pages long, before she got into the meanders of the public contract rules, legal aspects, testing and parametrization ... In the context of the placement, Léa found herself a long way from signal or image processing. But we see how well computer sciences meet the needs of the practitioners and chemists. A fine opportunity for UTC graduates, provided you have a strong propensity for doing loads of work "alone".

 

Annick,

Deputy Director for the Data and Information Systems Service at the teaching hospital (CHRU), Lille and corporate supervisor for Léa's placement.

It is somewhat unusual: the first requisite we have for trainees doing engineering work like Léa is that they really listen to you (and other actors too). "The way the medical world is organized 'mentally' is not the same as that for engineers. You have to listen to understand correctly how things work, and the needs of the medical personnel. Placements like these serve the personnel ... and the trainees are occasionally allowed to enter the operating theatres".

 

Jean-François,

Ingénieur R&D engineer at Maquet Cardiovascular and industrial supervisor for Kim Bui, on placement as R&D engineer"

Mission descriptor: Biocompatibility for vascular prosthetics.

The standards applicable to this specialty are set out in twenty or so thick documents. Hence the interest to identify the needs and to "fill in the blanks" to comply with changes. Of course total mastery of English is primordial. All the relevant texts are written in Shakespeare's mother tongue. In a sense, engineers in the field become Swiss Army knives, displaying a clear technological sensitivity and other useful features.

 

Fanny

specialty: Design and innovation for bio-products

Placement descriptor: specialist engineer in in vitro toxicology

Intertek, Fanny's host company has 1 000 laboratories round the world, 38 000 salaried staff. There are 15 agencies in France. They accompany the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors... in their quest for quality control. The assignment, precisely, consisted of assessing the anti-ageing effects of certain cosmetics. Without requiring animal (in vivo) testing, the tests are carried out at cell level. The accuracy of the measurements is to the nearest microgram (10-6 g) when it comes to detecting collagen. Density must be re-checked after a pause, wearing protection lab-glasses and gloves to carry out the manipulations under sterile conditions in a microbiological certified laboratory. So what was the interest for Fanny? As she says "close to the living world and Mother Nature".

 

Florence

specialty: Innovation in foodstuffs and agro-resources

Placement descriptor: assistant head of an optimisation project fora range of children's food by Babynov

Without a chef's hat but nonetheless wearing a 'charlotte' hygiene cap, Florence began investigating new meal-recipes for children. Also with here safety shoes, her white lab blouse (there's even a beard cover for men) and her uniform is complete. Obviously the question of taste lies at the heart of the study. So, where do you start? The client has set out a specification. Depending on the home-land market of the children consumers, the recipe will not be the same. Do they have spies normally in their diet? This is the kind of question that must be answered from the outset. Small test courses must be concocted and undergo tests before the company can move on to a larger scale, industrial production? "No artificial flavours, no additives ... that is the basic rule to abode by. Another axis is to see how the proteins and glucids behave when cooked; heat is, of course, necessary to guarantee the sanitary requirements but what happens to taste?" Beyond the technical questions here, the placement also represented a position, where the trainee had to identify acceptable outsources, viz., companies who can prove they will respect the specification. Notably, for example, no pesticide, must be present anywhere in the course preparation cycle.

 

Gilles,

Director R&D at Babynov (Materna) and Florence's industrial supervisor:

"At Babynov we work all around the world. This is very important when you have to consider taste issues. Depending on the market, the culture of tastes is not the same. In Germany or in the Netherlands, for example, small 'chunks' of food are introduced to the children's diet at an earlier age than in France, i.e., at age 18 months. The portions in the course are also more voluminous. These are typical of the constraints people like Florence have to bear in mind in this job area. And, believe me, the number of constraints is quite high for "baby food". Thus, in the course recipe, the engineers must have a real sensitivity to products, to tastes, colours and texture ... in fact everything except being a blue-ribbon cook."

 

Marie

specialty: Design and innovation for bio-products

Placement descriptor: assistant R&D engineer at Bio Springer

To begin, who exactly is Bio Springer? It is a company located in Maisons-Alfort (near Paris), specialised in making and selling yeast extracts, dry yeast powders ... So, Marie's assignment was with what segment? Well, she was invited to work with yeast creams and their reactivity. Depending on the type of cream, in some cases, the production of yeast extracts simply cannot be envisaged. Her mission had three stages: bibliographic research; lab tests and interpretation of test results to certify (or disqualify) the technical process used.

 

Thibault,

Regional Sales and Clinical Studies Director at Ethicon and Lucas' industrial supervisor, in his placement as an applications engineer

"Understanding the pathologies that are handled and treated by medical practitioners is part of the requirements for this placement ... and Lucas was invited to attend operation in live theatre conditions. You need to have a certain degree of sensitivity to work on these themes. Moreover and it is not uncommon for us to have collaborators who first wanted to become doctors before doing their engineering diploma. We must bear in mi d that there is a patient on the operating table. And it is the job of the application's engineer to interpret what the 'op. theatre' system is indicating. It is therefore essential to be able to "read"' the clinical studies constantly.