Articles

The CIFRE thesis : a bridge between the university and industry

Aurélien VAUQUELIN, a PhD-engineering graduate from UTC-Compiegne and laureate of the UTC-PhD Prize in 2011, established a private company ERACLES TECHNOLOGIES, after his CIFRE* thesis with VALEO ELECTRIC SYSTEMS.

The CIFRE thesis : a bridge between the university and industry

Can you briefly describe your PhD subject?

"My thesis consisted of finding ways to improve electric actioners fitted with permanent magnets as used in the automobile industry. The studies I carried out allow you to gain a more detailed understanding of how this sort of operational mode, thereby optimising their operation and hence leading to an improved energy efficiency. While I was studying these factors, I had top keep in mind the economic constraints that impact on the markets for large-scale mass-production of these parts for the automobile sector."

Tell us then why you registered for a CIFRE Thesis?

"My objective, in taking up such a thesis was to play an interface role, viz. between the academic and the industrial worlds. Half of my thesis work was carried out in the Electromechanical Engineering Laboratory (LEC) at UTC-Compiegne and the other half directly immersed in a team at VALEO. What I wanted to do was to offer industry the scientific acumen I had gained at the university. Dividing my time in this way enabled me to better understand the needs, the challenges and the specific nature of each world. The rigorous thinking we learn at the university, associated with the constraints that impact industrial manufacturing and cost processes represented terrific challenges for me. Even if some of the recruiting officers see a doctoral thesis as the end-product of a university sequence, I myself think that some arrangements, such as the CIFRE degree or the possibility offered to doctoral students to engage in advisory work with the private sector, do tend to change mentalities. As I see things, these recruiting specialists should find the skills they are looking for ion the PhD graduate who has high level competence in a field that can be of immediate use and value to a company director or to an entrepreneur."

And today, you have yourself become an entrepreneur?

"Sure! In parallel to my studies for my engineering degree, I also did a reasonably high standard of cycling. During one of my training sessions, towards the end of 2005, the idea crossed my mind that one could effectively stimulate a muscle with electro-mechanical devices. The idea grew on me as I proceeded with my advanced degree (DEA) and as I was doing my thesis work. I had been awarded several distinctions, among which I could quote the Aid to Innovating technology Enterprise Creation contest after which prize, I started making prototypes for my idea, assessing the market possibilities, looking after the patenting, the feasibility studies ... Pall of this taught me that this particular innovation had many applications, even outside the world of high level sport."

*In French CIFRE stand for Conventions Industrielles de Formation par la Recherche [Industrial Agreements for Training through Research].