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43 : UTC’s PhDs: our key players for innovation

Dans un monde où l’innovation – en particulier technologique – occupe une place croissante, les compétences des docteurs spécialistes des sciences de l’ingénieur et notamment des docteurs ingénieurs apparaissent de plus en plus stratégiques. L’UTC entend préparer ses étudiants à cette nouvelle donne.

43 : UTC’s PhDs: our key players for innovation

His employer: one of the best universities in China

A large fraction of UTC’s PhDs look for a first appointment in the academic world. For instance, Baochao Wang, who presented a thesis on non-renewable energies, under the supervision of Professors Manuela Sechilariu and Fabrice Locment, UTC- Avenues Laboratory.

In China, as is the case in France, the number of PhD graduates coming onto the market-place largely exceeds the number of positions offered in HE and public research establishments, hence more and more young PhDs are looking to the entrepreneurial world for a first job. Baochao Wang, as soon as he had successfully presented his thesis in 2014 was recruited as lecturer cum research scientist at one of China’s best universities, the well-known Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT).

His passport to China was the doctoral degree in the framework of a programme associating the Chinese government agency supporting university student and staff mobility, viz., the China Scholarship Council (CSC), and the French networks of Universities of Technology (UTs) and the INSA engineering institutes. “In the beginning, I prepared for a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at HOIT and had not then thought about doing a thesis”, says our young PhD. “But my Father advised me to pursue to the doctoral degree to widen my career prospects. I applied and went for an interview at HIT and discovered that the CSC could award me a doctoral degree scholarship, for other Chinese students who wish to present themselves for a PhD in one of the French UTs or at an INSA.

A strategic subject:  “smart” electric micro-networks

 In the framework, of this international mobility programme, UTC’s Avenue Laboratory proposed a thesis subject in one of their mainstream research areas – smart electric micro-networks integrating (at the scale of a building: a renewable electric power generator (notably PV solar panel arrays), a power storage system and a classic power back-up generator. The challenge here is to produce electricity, manage production and consumption in such a way as to feed the building at the lowest cost and privilege, wherever possible, the renewable power source. And Baochao Wang adds: “Renewable energies represent a strategic field and I found this highly interesting. The very idea of doing a 3 1/2 year PhD in France (where it usually takes 4 to 5 in China) also attracted me. I sent my application to UTC-Avenues and they selected me. But, before leaving for France I signed a contract with HIT authorities who pledged to hire me on my return to the extent that Chinese universities hold in high esteem the quality of French HE institutions selected by the CSC to send Chinese nationals abroad.

All of this represents a highly demanding set-up with discovery of a new language and a foreign country … my experience in France was sometimes hard, but very rewarding for me. “Of course, not only did I acquired a lot of complementary in-depth knowledge in electrical engineering, but in addition too learned how to organise research assignments and how to draft a paper for a scientific review. In France you enjoy have a culture for organization, going as far as (and including) how to write correctly which I must admit is not the case in China!”