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46 : Pedagogical Innovation: the UTC formulæ

The key guidelines for pedagogical innovation implemented by UTC aim at ensuring the students become the actors of their personal learning process. This calls for collaborative work on real, scale-one problems, also for reverse educational lectures and serious games. The aim is not only to better arm our student-engineers to face their future professional career but also to adapt the university to comply with the specifics features that characterize a new generation of undergraduates.

46 : Pedagogical Innovation: the UTC formulæ

A corporate view

Sopra Steria, who have signed a pedagogical partnership with UTC, involves our students on a regular basis in various projects. This proves to be a mutually enriching form of collaboration.

Long-standing strategic partners in research activities, Sopra Steria and UTC have decided to widen the scope of their collaboration, taking in pedagogical research. To this end, they signed an agreement in December, 2016. In this cooperation institutional framework, students are invited to take part in projects that have a close connection with those of Sopra Steria groups who rank among world leaders in finding digital solutions – with some 40 000 staff round the world. The ‘software editing units” of the multinational group are strongly involved in these mutually beneficial exchanges.

Three units focusing on the bank sectors, manpower resources and the building sector, indeed, were very interested by the capacity for innovative and pluridisciplinary thinking of UTC undergraduates. The excellence displayed in computer sciences and their applications, in data processing and analysis and in urban system engineering were found highly attractive by the professional solution experts. “In essence, we mobilize their technical talents and skills to help them progress, and at the same time we are keen to benefit from an external vision from their generation, which has specific digital uses”, notes Thierry Fournel, a Sopra Steria expert in building sector software packages. A workshop project and several CC lab.sessions (TXs) and projects (PRs) have already been set up via the partnership. To the extent that Sopra Steria is very happy so far with the results, the group now wishes to project towards a follow-on programme over several years. The group wishes to set up this unique relationship with an engineering school on a lasting basis.

Interdisciplinarity, an important added value

The principle that underscores the modules is that we are able to propose real, concrete cases as met by professionals in the sectors, without being too ‘directive’ i.e., so as not to stifle the more innovative solutions the students can have. There are regular meetings between the students and Sopra Steria staff bringing everyone up to date as to project progress, in a constructive dialogue that enhances mutual benefits. “The idea here is not to simply accept the students’ work at its turn-key face-value but rather to be engaged in a pedagogical approach where what we have to say serves to enrich the students’ experience in a logic of co-construction based on concrete hands-on examples”, explains Thierry Fournel.

The field of what we now call ‘smart buildings’ – where there is a high demand for studies by certain Sopra Steria clients – is one of the areas touched on by the students and their lecturer, research scientist mentors. It is a highly transverse theme and has allowed students majoring in computer sciences and their applications and in urban engineering to learn how to work together, producing and proposing joint solutions. “Over and above the technical aspects, interdisciplinarity is a high added value for the companies here”, insists Thierry Fournel. Digital transformation of buildings was also used to mobilize the young UTC undergraduates. Consolidating information related to consumption, uses and residents’ behaviours using data from connected objects was one of the themes proposed. Another workshop proposed that the students imagine a set of expectations of a flat owner/occupant in 20 years’ time.

For this exercise, the students put together a questionnaire they circulated over the social networks to their friends and relatives. This ingenious use made of new media is a good example, of UTC students’ levels of creativity, beyond their specific majors and this also is an important asset when they want to enter the job markets.