Design engineering present at UTC since it was established

For almost 50 years now, UTC has been train­ing around 30 design engi­neers every year. Yoghurt pots, house­hold appli­ances, drones… Noth­ing can resist their pen­cil and pen art! A clos­er look at this atyp­i­cal spe­cial­ty elec­tive course in the land­scape of French engi­neer­ing schools. 

In 2023, like UTC, it will blow out its 50 can­dles. Cre­at­ed by renowned design­er Danielle Quar­ante, the IDI pro­gram “con­vinced UTC founder Guy Deniélou of the impor­tance of train­ing engi­neers in design think­ing, to put the user at the heart of the design process,” explains Emmanuel Cor­bas­son, head of the pro­gram. Today, the course remains an excep­tion in France, because, apart from UTBM (Belfort­Mont­be­liard) and oth­er spe­cialised Mas­ters degrees such as the D‑School host­ed by the Ecole des Ponts Paris­Tech, there are no oth­er engi­neer­ing schools that inte­grate “design think­ing” into their ini­tial core training. 

But what is the dif­fer­ence between a “clas­si­cal” engi­neer and a design engi­neer? “The design engi­neer takes the user into account in the design process. It can be a prob­lem of use, ser­vice, recy­cling, etc., to which he can pro­vide a solu­tion. The aim of the IDI pro­gramme is to teach the design­er that there is a user, and that it is the user’s prob­lems that need to be solved. “To train these engi­neers, the course offers cours­es in com­mu­ni­ca­tion design, intro­duc­tion to indus­tri­al design, prod­uct design, etc. 

More recent­ly, two CCs, Pack­ag­ing Design and Sound Design, have been set up in response to a strong demand from the indus­tri­al sec­tor. Anoth­er nov­el­ty is the increas­ing use of com­put­er tools in design. “Stu­dents have to learn to mas­ter the graph­ics tablet, for exam­ple, even if the prac­tice of draw­ing and sketch­ing remains fun­da­men­tal!” adds Emmanuel. The lessons are giv­en in project mode (apart from the intro­duc­to­ry lec­tures). The stu­dents are there­fore close­ly mon­i­tored and accom­pa­nied by the teach­ing team. “Objects, what­ev­er they are, always trans­mit emo­tions to humans. Work and projects must there­fore be con­front­ed with the oth­er’s eyes,” says Emmanuel. And, in order to design, draw and con­ceive, peo­ple must feel confident.” 

Design, a revelation for Emmanuel Corbasson

”Orig­i­nal­ly, I trained as an engi­neer in flu­id mechan­ics applied to the bio­med­ical field at INSA Lyon. Dur­ing an engi­neer­ing intern­ship at Whirlpool Amiens, I drew a car­i­ca­ture of the depart­ment in which my supe­ri­ors appeared. This led me to change depart­ments and to be assigned to the Design depart­ment “since I had tal­ent as a draughts­man”. A real rev­e­la­tion! I had no idea at the time how insep­a­ra­ble form and con­tent were and what design could add to a prod­uct, even a mass mar­ket prod­uct. I had found my way, I just had to find the right train­ing to get there. Being already an engi­neer, I chose the DESS in design at UTC, led by the dynam­ic Danielle Quar­ante at the time. I spe­cial­ized in con­sumer prod­ucts, every­day prod­ucts, at Ronéo, Media6 and then Pierre Hen­ri SA. I had always kept in touch with UTC and the IDI sec­tor. In 2008, when the UTC asked me to come and teach in the IDI depart­ment, I did not hes­i­tate, the oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to pass on this rev­e­la­tion, to act at the source… I took over as Head of the IDI course short­ly afterwards. 

Le magazine

Juin 2023 - N°60

Une recherche tournée vers un avenir soutenable

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