42 : The Shanghai Campus is 12 years old. Well done UTseuS!

China is the heavyweight champion of the world’s economy and, increasingly, a spear-head for technological innovation. It was seen as a strategically valuable country for the three French Universities of Technology: UTBM (Belfort-Montbeliard), UTC (Compiegne) and UTT (Troyes), who as early as 2005 joined forces with the University of Shanghai to create the Sino-European School of Technology of Shanghai University (UTseuS).

42 : The Shanghai Campus is 12 years old. Well done UTseuS!

A Hackathon to replace Exams

In order to train students who register for the ‘International Engineer’ mobility programme, UTseuS … innovates.

The UTseuS ComplexCity Laboratory provides an excellent observation position for all new innovative processes, all the better that it now occupies premises in a Shanghai Makerspace and also participates in hackathons. In December 2016, this corresponded exactly to the format chosen by Fabien Pfaender, posted to ComplexCity and by Philippe Xu, lecturer and research scientist at the UTC Heudiasyc Laboratory, for the credit course (CC) exam in ‘Data Sciences’ under the International Engineer university diploma DU programme, viz., an ~ 30h hackathon, using urban data collected by ComplexCity teams.

After a short briefing session by the lecturers, the students were given 6h to put together their ideas for innovative applications or “apps”. Each student, individually, presented the pitch of his/her “app”. Three using social media (a site to assess restaurant services and food, equivalent to Twitter® …) were selected: one was designed to help entrepreneurs to identify the best places to open a restaurant in Shanghai with decisive criteria in terms of customer satisfaction; the second “app” proposed variable mode transportation solutions for Shanghai inhabitants depending on their profile (keen shoppers, art-lovers …); the third “app” brought together people looking for partners for a given sport.

The students were organized in 3 groups, each supporting one of the ideas. Each group then had to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of their “app”, and then to provide a proof of concept: analysis of raw data, and to draw useful information from the data for their “app” … and finally to put together a first prototype. As Philippe Xu notes, “None of these students came from a Computing science major and were therefore unfamiliar with programming techniques. But we provided the necessary, basic information and know-how for this CC and we helped out, where needed, during the examination. But above all other considerations, the students proved themselves highly motivated.

Each group managed to demonstrate at least one relevant finding at the end of the hackathon, and this was the primary objective set by the examiners. The students were able to realize that data sciences constituted an accessible area of knowledge and know-how but that the most important factor, is to demonstrate imagination in possible “apps”. And this is exactly where young people today who are growing up surrounded by computing devices and techniques excel.”