Eppur, concentrated technology made in UTC

Col­in Gal­lois and Lancelot Durand togeth­er found­ed Eppur, the first brak­ing sys­tem for man­u­al wheel­chairs. The con­cept was born dur­ing Col­in Gal­lois’ under­grad­u­ate years in the UTC design depart­ment in 2015.

A pair of wheels used for brake your wheel­chair with­out injur­ing your­self — it was some­thing to think about. Eppur, or rather Free­wheel­chair to start with, was born in Com­pieg­ne in 2015. Col­in Gal­lois was just start­ing to study design at the UTC. «One evening, I crossed paths with a wheel­chair user who was los­ing con­trol of his chair on a slope. He was grip­ping the wheels of his wheel­chair tight­ly in an attempt to slow down, but he couldn’t. I won­dered why he didn’t do it. I won­dered why he didn’t use his brakes? In the weeks that fol­lowed, I inter­viewed sev­er­al man­u­al wheel­chair users. I realised that what I thought were brakes were actu­al­ly park­ing brakes, used to bring the wheel­chair to a com­plete stop, and that the only way to slow down was to use your hands like brake pads,» he recalls. Col­in Gal­lois then began to work on the sub­ject with a friend from the UTC, Xavier Gar­cia, and then with Lancelot Durand, also a UTC stu­dent, but also a col­league of his at Decathlon. «For sev­er­al years, we worked on this project along­side our respon­si­bil­i­ties at Décathlon. By 2021, we had work­ing pro­to­types and very good feed­back from users. The work­load was heavy because we worked on the project in the evenings, after our day’s work at Décathlon,» explains the young entre­pre­neur, who now intends to make Eppur a mobil­i­ty brand for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. The team already has sev­er­al ideas for new prod­ucts and is cur­rent­ly work­ing on expand­ing the range of mobil­i­ty solutions.

James Dyson Awards and Concours Lepine

After tak­ing his bac­calau­réat, Col­in Gal­lois enrolled in a sci­ence prepara­to­ry class for the Grandes Écoles to pre­pare for the com­pet­i­tive exam­i­na­tion to become an air­line pilot, a pro­fes­sion he had dreamed of since child­hood. After two years of prepara­to­ry class­es and fail­ing the pilot school admis­sion exam, he decid­ed to go for what he liked best: mechan­ics. He opt­ed for a L3 in mechan­ics and engi­neer­ing sciences.Colin Gal­lois et Xavier Gar­cia étaient égale­ment déjà pre­miers au James Dyson Awards en 2016 avec Free­wheel­chair. «Dur­ing my under­grad­u­ate year, I dis­cov­ered UTC’s Indus­tri­al Design Engi­neer­ing course. It seemed to me to be the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of my sci­en­tif­ic back­ground and my cre­ativ­i­ty. So I applied and did three years at UTC in Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing, then in Indus­tri­al Design Engi­neer­ing, inter­spersed with intern­ships and stays abroad, in Sin­ga­pore and Swe­den, before doing my end-ofs­tud­ies intern­ship at Décathlon». Fol­low­ing his end-of-study intern­ship, Col­in Gal­lois con­tin­ued his career at Decathlon for five years as a design­er, engi­neer, inno­va­tion man­ag­er, then prod­uct man­ag­er and design direc­tor until 2021, when he joined Eppur full-time. Last May, Eppur won the high­est dis­tinc­tion at the Lépine com­pe­ti­tion. «It was an incred­i­ble recog­ni­tion of our work and, above all, a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to shine a light on our inno­va­tion and make it known to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. We received sev­er­al hun­dred mes­sages and requests for prod­uct demon­stra­tions — it was crazy! Col­in Gal­lois and Xavier Gar­cia were also first run­ners-up at the James Dyson Awards in 2016 with Freewheelchair.

An innovation that came to be via a passion

« UTC gave me two excep­tion­al part­ners, Lancelot and Matthias, as well as giv­ing me the desire to ful­fil my poten­tial by devel­op­ing prod­ucts out­side the class­room. Eppur wouldn’t have been born with­out a pas­sion for the prod­uct, but above all for the user, and it’s this approach that still dri­ves the whole team today. As for Décathlon, I like to think of it as my sec­ond school, after UTC,» con­cludes Col­in Gal­lois. It’s an incred­i­ble com­pa­ny, which has enabled me to con­tin­ue in the same vein as at UTC, cre­at­ing prod­ucts with very high val­ue in use, in a high­ly stim­u­lat­ing pro­fes­sion­al environment.

Focus on the UTC Design programme

The Indus­tri­al Design Engi­neer­ing pro­gramme, part of the Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing Depart­ment of the Uni­ver­site de Tech­nolo­gie de Com­pieg­ne, is :

  • 35 design engi­neers trained each year 
  • more than 50% women 
  • Engi­neers with dual skills (Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Indus­tri­al Design) 
  • An engi­neer­ing degree (Bac + 5) 
  • A job place­ment rate of 83% in less than a month and 100% in less than 4 months 
  • 8 CC’s offered to students 
  • a unique project-based teach­ing environment 
  • 5 research full professors

A few exam­ples of the suc­cess sto­ries of UTC-ME-IDI students:

  • Final­ist in the 2015 Dyson com­pe­ti­tion — Xavier Garcia 
  • 1st at the James Dyson Awards 2016 - Col­in Gal­lois, Xavier Gar­cia — Free­wheel­chair which will give rise to Eppur 
  • 1st at the James Dyson Awards 2018 — Tingyun DU & Yuchen 
  • 1st James Dyson Award 2019 — Romar­ic Dela­haie and Mathilde Blondel — Eve, the anti-aggres­sion bracelet 
  • 1st James Dyson Award 2020 — Aux­ane Caseiro and Char­lyne Ker­jean — Tuli, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary Cup 
  • Final­ists in the Dyson 2021 com­pe­ti­tion — Jeanne Ray­naud — Corentin Ver­coor — Manche hos­pi­tal staff 
  • Inge­nieur du Futur 2021 Tro­phy — Agathe Boulet and Louise Thouron — Cosette- Senior Telephone

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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