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An’ initiative’ devoted to control protocols ensuring the control of safe and sustainable technology-intensive systems

Jérôme Faver­geon was appoint­ed Direc­tor of the UTC-Rober­val lab­o­ra­to­ry in 2015 ad is also direc­tor of an ‘Ini­tia­tive’ devot­ed to a Master‘s degree in safe and sus­tain­able tech­nol­o­gy-inten­sive sys­tems as part of the ‘Insti­tutes and Ini­tia­tives’ pro­gramme launched in 2019 by the Sor­bonne Uni­ver­si­ty alliance.

The SU Alliance brings togeth­er the assets and tal­ents of ten insti­tu­tions, includ­ing UTC, the Muséum nation­al d’histoire naturelle and INSEAD and cov­ers all the dis­ci­plines of lit­er­a­ture, med­i­cine, sci­ence and engi­neer­ing, tech­nol­o­gy and man­age­ment. The idea behind this pro­gramme is that «giv­en that the so-called “Labex­es” (gov­ern­ment cer­ti­fied “excel­lent lab­o­ra­to­ries”), includ­ing the UTC’s Master’s degree in Tech­no­log­i­cal Sys­tems (MS2T), are due to dis­ap­pear, the Alliance has decid­ed to set up anoth­er frame­work in order to pro­mote mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary research around struc­tur­ing ini­tia­tives. Our Labex will end in 2022, so we have decid­ed, moti­vat­ed by the expe­ri­ence we have accu­mu­lat­ed over the last ten years, to pro­pose the ‘a Master’s degree in Safe and Sus­tain­able Tech­nol­o­gy-inten­sive Sys­tems’,» he emphasises. 

The fund­ing for this pro­gramme comes from an annu­al grant via the Alliance’s Idex SUPER funds, which can be used to finance the­ses, post-docs, Master’s degrees and even be used to invite for­eign researchers,» he explains. What is the key word of ‘Insti­tutes and Ini­tia­tives’? «It is mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary. The Insti­tutes were cre­at­ed around themes or research objects for which the Alliance was already inter­na­tion­al­ly rec­og­nized, with the aim of fed­er­at­ing the forces present, bring­ing dis­ci­plines clos­er togeth­er and achiev­ing a cer­tain crit­i­cal mass. The Ini­tia­tives con­cern emerg­ing themes on which there is lit­tle his­to­ry and not nec­es­sar­i­ly a defined sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty. They are there­fore younger in terms of matu­ri­ty. Thus, in the frame­work of the ini­tia­tive that I lead, I have not pre­de­fined a pre­cise perime­ter of actors who will be work­ing on the sub­ject. It is “open”, in the sense that any researcher of the Alliance can take part in the research work car­ried out with­in this Ini­tia­tive sup­port­ed by UTC, as long as he car­ries a tech­no­log­i­cal research project answer­ing the chal­lenges of the Ini­tia­tive’, explains Jérôme Favergeon. 

Pluridis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty is not always easy to imple­ment. «It is dif­fi­cult to get researchers from dif­fer­ent back­grounds to work togeth­er. Indeed, researchers are judged on their dis­ci­pline, assessed in rela­tion to their spe­cial­ty dis­ci­pline; they know how to be rec­og­nized in that area. Ask­ing a researcher to work in an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary way is, unfor­tu­nate­ly, not such a nat­ur­al approach. Espe­cial­ly as this is not the way careers are built. It is there­fore a real chal­lenge to suc­ceed in blend­ing dis­ci­plines togeth­er around com­mon projects while ensur­ing that each spe­cial­ty is involved. For our part, we try to asso­ciate at least two lab­o­ra­to­ries or even two insti­tu­tions in our projects,’ he says. 

It is an ini­tia­tive that has giv­en rise to var­i­ous the­ses and post-doc­tor­al projects. Among the themes addressed by these projects? «One of them focus­es on ‘Low- Tech’. prin­ci­ples that advo­cate reori­ent­ing the design of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies on inno­va­tion tra­jec­to­ries that take into account aspi­ra­tions for a more sus­tain­able world. The sec­ond con­cerns net­work secu­ri­ty, which is based on very ener­gy-inten­sive algo­rithms. Here, the idea is to find a con­sen­sus between the lev­el of safe­ty and ener­gy con­sump­tion. In a word: com­bin­ing secu­ri­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty. As for the most recent ones, they respec­tive­ly con­cern the depol­lu­tion of soils through the use of par­tic­u­lar fun­gi — a nat­ur­al depol­lu­tion in short — and the design of antibi­otics. As for post-doc work, this con­cerns the fol­low­ing projects: find­ing a solu­tion to the fail­ure of cur­rent face-masks by increas­ing the effi­cien­cy of the fil­ter through an appro­pri­ate choice of com­po­si­tion, size and struc­tur­ing of the fibres mak­ing it up; devel­op­ing per­cep­tion sys­tems for autonomous vehi­cles that can reli­ably detect near­by “vul­ner­a­ble” obsta­cles; and final­ly, the last one pro­pos­es to draw inspi­ra­tion from the strate­gies of intesti­nal par­a­sites to even­tu­al­ly cre­ate new autonomous mecha­tron­ic med­ical devices, capa­ble of being attached in the intestines and deliv­er­ing a reg­u­lar dose of med­i­cine there,’ con­cludes Jérôme Favergeon.

Le magazine

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