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!

UTseuS the first Franco-Chinese programme for engineering training

Be a visionary / Join us …

.. is the UTseuS motto and already huge numbers have agreed to join: over 1 300 Chinese students and other nationals, which makes it the most important Sino-European engineering training programme. Not to mention the 50 or so industrial partners.

UTseuS was visionary from its inception. “At the outset of the years 2000, the challenge was to train Chinese engineers in the French manner, thereby complying with expectations of French companies who were starting to invest in China”, recalls MonZen Tzen, the French Director of UTseuS. This objective was largely attained. Every year when the Gaokao – the competitive admissions examination for Chinese universities - is over, some 250 high level Chinese candidates are jointly selected by the Shanghai University and the French UTs and were registered for the Franco-Chinese programme.

160 new Chinese nationals matriculated for studies at the French UTs for 2016

In order to pave the way to success, UTseuS prepared an original core programme (1st Cycle) along the line of the French UT core programmes, but spread over 3 instead of 2 years, including intensive French language training. “Not only do they follow the French language courses (often assured by French teachers) but also by the end of year 1, they have classes in other subjects, in French”, underlines Étienne Arnoult, UTC Director for Training and Pedagogy. Indeed, ¾ of the scientific and engineering courses are given by Chinese lecturers, while the remaining ¼ is covered by the usual UT lecturers. And, as is now the case in France, much of the class work is performed in group formation and on projects – this is not common practice in China where lectures are mainly ex cathedra.

When the courses are completed at UTseuS, the graduates receive a Bachelor’s degree and for the best among them they are offered the possibility to pursue in one of the 3 French UTs or at another HE partner institution, to attain a French engineering diploma or a Master’s degree recognized in both France and China. Every year, some 60% of the graduates come to France: over 160 students matriculated in 2016. In France as in China, the studies are financially assured via fees payed by their families. One they have been awarded their diploma/degree, these graduates are recruited mostly by large international groups such as Renault, PSA, Airbus, General Electric, Saint-Gobain, Oracle, Schneider Electric, Archos, Altran or Alstom.

130 French and non-French nationals registered at UTseuS last year

UTseuS partners also proved to be visionaries in 2012 when they set a new challenge – to train “bi-cultural” French engineers ready to face the Chinese market-place. China today occupies the second (maybe even first) rank among the world economies. “But above all, this huge country no longer wants to be just the global factory”, underlines MonZen Tzen.

“Its new aim is to become the N°1 pole for engineering and innovation. Shenzen and its surrounding region in China’s South West provinces have become the new Silicon Valley and is attracting more and more foreign start-up entrepreneurs”. “China is now THE place to be if you really want to understand what innovation means”, adds Fabien Pfaender, a lecturer reseach scientist at UTseuS. “In Shanghai - where UTseuS is fortunate enough to be located, the “maker” culture is flourishing. There is no end of ‘makerspaces’, of places where you can learn to programme, to take part in hackathons, attend conferences about innovation, and see new start-ups appearing …”.

In order to ensure that the UT and the partner institution matriculated students gain a ‘hands-on’ experience, UTseuS set up three six-month mobility modules, allowing for some interesting pedagogical innovation (cf. p.11) . The first module, entitled ‘Science and the Humanities in China” enables 2nd year French undergraduates at the UTs to spend their 4th semester in Shanghai. The two other modules are at Master’s degree level and since the start of year 2016 are recognized as a university diploma. Entitled “International Engineers” this programme is designed to prepare future engineers for a managerial level career in international, business spheres.

The other module: "Language, culture and innovation for entrepreneurship" proposes a unique approach. “The philosophy underlining the course is to transmit an entrepreneurial spirit to the students”, explains MonZen Tzen. “Our aim is to give them the keys to create a business enterprise, become ‘intrapreneurs’, trained and able to steer and manage innovative projects in an already existing enterprise”. Moreover, it is an interdisciplinary course open to engineering science, design, management social and humanities students, as well as for young professionals. The three courses have met with considerable and ever growing success. Since it was created ‘Science and Humanities in China’ has more than doubled up on its class-numbers: from 35 in 2013, to 81 in spring 20°178. Total for 2016, UTseuS has trained over 130 French and non-French students.

Five new research projects

UTseuS was also visionary when it created, in 2013, the first laboratory exclusively focused on the concept of smart cities – ‘ComplexCity’, an association of Chinese and European research scientists. This proved to be an initiative that brought an extra boost to the institution while strengthening the scientific base for the lecture courses. In its stride, ComplexCity launched 5 new project in 2016, on a set of varied themes, viz., then image of cities in digital literature, an analysis of the nutritional offer of restaurants in urban areas or ‘odonymics’ - a study of place-names in cities (streets, open spaces, squares, etc.).

“Our research focuses both on cities and on new methods that allow us to better understand just how complex a city is”, explains Fabien Pfaender, who coordinates the laboratory work schedule. “A large fraction of my works consists of developing methodologies for acquisition from multiple data sources: shared photos on Flickr®, information from restaurant Internet ranking sites, measurements from pollution sensors …. the underlying idea was to confront these vary varied data streams to seek sense and new knowledge or new applications” (cf. p10).

For the forthcoming 2017 academic opening, UTseuS will be inaugurating a brand-new building on the Shanghai University campus, much more spacious than its present premises … a signal that the institutions is about to welcome even more visionaries!


Students who embody the Utseus* motto

At UtseuS (* Sino-European School of Technology of the Shanghai University), most Master’s degree level courses are given by professionals from the entrepreneurial world. Air Liquide is an industrial partner and, as such, hosts several students registered for the International Engineer DU diploma, every year, at one of its main engineering and manufacturing sites for industrial gas production equipment, viz., the Hangzhou site, some 200 km from Shanghai. The course contents focus on Handling and Control of Industrial Risks.

“Training provided is part theory but above all practical”, explains Fabien Artigou, Manufacturing Director at the Air Liquide, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang site and in charge of handling industrial risks – Air Liquide-Asia. “We show students how we apply safety concepts and share our field experience with them: the challenges encountered and our success in handling them, with a dual advantage here. On one hand, they learn that safety is a key priority for Air Liquide and indeed its first industrial responsibility. It is therefore in our interest also to train future engineers correctly in these matters. On the other hand, we host international students registered at Utseus as interns and we have recruited two graduates. Innovation is of the pillars of Air Liquide. We use it to improve our level of productivity, to open the way to new market segments and we encourage and instil a strong entrepreneurial culture. The motto of Utseus is “Be a visionary” (cf. and its students certainly embody this approach and mentality – ‘sky’s the limit’, we might say and one only needs to innovate to prove it. These students have an interesting profile. The very fact that they come from abroad demonstrates that they already have an open vista on the world. A few years back we recruited a young Chinese woman, a graduate from UTC. Her mastery of French and her close familiarity with French culture were tremendous assets for both her and my company”.

UTseuS and China … career boosters!

Raphaël Droissart, an undergraduate engineer at UTBM (Belfort-Montbeliard, when he was admitted to the ’international engineer’ course at UTseuS in 2014, could hardly have imagined what was to follow … “After this first mobility, I took the ‘Language, Culture and Innovation for Entrepreneurship’ (LCIE ) module. I did my 5th year internship in China. I was in charge of a market survey and making a business plan for a French training company ‘Learning Tribes’*, who were thinking about setting up shop in China. Then, early 2016, this company asked me to establish their Chinese branch office and hired me on a permanent contract basis to help the new office begin business. Today, I am in charge of the company‘s R&I centre in China to continue development of digital solutions for their products and services. In parallel, in 2015, I created a start up in France with two associates: My Mooc**, a sort of Trip Advisor® for Mooc courses offered by the Grande Ecoles and Universities. Learning Tribes invested in this company, which I manage from abroad.

The UTseuS ‘mobility’ courses I followed helped me enormously in these ventures, all the more so, given their variety. The ‘International Engineer’ module is very close to our core business. LCIE is more business, innovation and Chinese studies oriented, which turned out to be very useful when I established the Learning Tribes Chinese branch office. I was stunned by the sheer quality of the course ‘lecturers’, with both UT academics and professional experts. Both experience above enabled me to discover the dynamic nature of China, to meet lots of mangers in international groups, to visit lots of company premises and to assess what we can do with an engineering training background like me and all of which have been real career boosters”.



4 Questions to Fabrice Rousseau, Deputy Counsellor for Co-Operation and Cultural Actions at the French Embassy, Beijing

As you see it, what the key attractive factor of UTseuS?

“What we have here is a magnificent flagship co-operation between France and China. With Ecole Centrale Paris, who initiated the model for Franco-Chinese institutes, i.e., a consortium of French establishments who associate with a Chinese University to set up “French style” engineering training in French, leading to, the award of a double diploma, in China and in France. There are currently 8 Franco-Chinese institutes. UTseuS differs from the others by the variety of the French-side establishments (French Universities of technology (UITs) and their partner institutions, by the number of students trained and it is the only one that has a resrecah laboratory this being highly important for the intrinsic quality of the courses given and a long range policy thrust”.

How do you explain this degree of success?

Certain Chinese universities multiply their agreements to co-operate rather than concentrate on a few chosen major projects. In contradistinction, the Shanghai University (SU) wants to valorise UTseuS by providing for material and manpower resource needs. The choice of SU as our partner was decisive. As was the very high level of commitment of the French team at UTseuS who provided new impetus when appropriate to develop the institute’s programmes and development schemes.

What is the level of notoriety of UTseuS and French UTs in China?

“French UTs are well known and respected institutions, in many instances even more so than our most famous engineering schools. Not only have they been established in China for a long time, but they recruit Chinese students for their undergraduates training via UTSeuS and up to and including a PhD degree. It is a course path that sidesteps the difficulties of the classic Chinese selective examinations: for Chinese families who finance their children’s studies, the risk of a failure after 2 years’ preparation simply cannot be envisaged. Moreover, and in general, the models proposed by the Franco-Chinese Institutes is drawing increasing interest in China itself inasmuch as it includes professional-trade oriented courses which in essence guarantee the employability of the graduates. The proof her is that the students registered for UTseuS and for Centrale Beijing are often hired before they compete their degree course”.

What would you personally say about China to French students?

“China represents a unique case of sustained growth rate in recent years, hence today’s problems: pollution, transportation, energy procurement, housing, etc., which are potential market opportunities for French companies but the challenges in Asia are much more demanding than in the West and we do have quite different life styles, which definitely makes China the country where a few months’ stay will prove most rewarding. Being able to observe these facts on a day-to-day basis is itself a clear added value on the job market”.