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ESTACA reaches a new milestone in entrepreneurship training

ESTACA presents its "Destination Entrepreneur" programme aimed at supporting engineering students in their business creation projects. The school specialising in new mobilities is strengthening its educational offer devoted to entrepreneurship by creating a new area of training as part of the school's curriculum. The "Destination Entrepreneur" scheme, which is included in all courses, enables students to discover the fundamentals of business creation and gives them all the keys to developing an entrepreneurial project.

Fostering students' entrepreneurial spirit

The "Destination Entrepreneur" scheme responds to a threefold observation on the part of ESTACA. More and more of its students want to create their own companies or take part in a start-up development project, drawing on their engineering expertise. This is especially reflected in the increase in applications for student entrepreneur status. The School is also responding to the expectations of a generation of students interested in innovation, who wish to put their engineering skills at the service of agile structures, engaged in projects that have a positive impact on society. Finally, recruiters within start-ups, SMEs or major groups are increasingly looking for this entrepreneurial spirit and "intrapreneur" profiles.



 In 2017, only one student had student-entrepreneur status at ESTACA, today, there are about ten of them.

 In three years, ESTACA has supported about twenty students in the creation and development of their start-up.

Strengthening the educational offer dedicated to entrepreneurship

The "Destination Entrepreneur" scheme replaces the option introduced in 2016 and begins in the second year of training at ESTACA. This training is now compulsory for all students at the School. It can then be continued and completed over the following three years on a voluntary basis through modules allowing a more in-depth study of the themes dealt with in the second year, personalised support and possibly access to student-entrepreneur status. In particular, this status allows students to devote themselves to their business creation project instead of a compulsory internship.

Concrete experience of an entrepreneurial project

In parallel to the third-year course modules, students obtain concrete experience of an entrepreneurial project with the new Innovation and Business Creation Projects (PRICE). Two options are available depending on students’ aspirations: work on a business creation subject proposed by an ESTACA partner or on their own project. The scheme is part of the project-based learning that lies at the heart of the school's educational model. By placing experimentation and practice at the centre, these projects allow students to experience directly the technical, technological and managerial requirements inherent in any engineering project.

June 2020 Quentin Gag

“With Victor Rioli, a student in my class at ESTACA, we have been working on our business creation project since the end of 2019 and we obtained the status of Student-Entrepreneur last February. This has enabled us to devote ourselves fully to our "Aiguillon" project, which aims to produce a new rail switch. We will be doing our end-of-study internship as part of our entrepreneurial project. We are supervised by two tutors from ESTACA, with whom we have weekly meetings and who help us a lot on a technical level but also in structuring our project, understanding the needs of the market and building our business model. I wanted to develop technological innovations, and the support offered by ESTACA allowed me to take the leap into entrepreneurship.”
Quentin Gag, 5th year student entrepreneur


Proven methodology

Through this entrepreneurship training, ESTACA intends to stimulate career interest, but also to enable people to discover cross-disciplinary skills, equally useful within companies, such as marketing, management and sales development. Since 2016, 11 companies have been created by students at the school. The number of students involved in an entrepreneurial approach during their studies, either with the status of student-entrepreneur or by developing their business project, has quadrupled since 2017.

ESTACA develops the first bio-inspired robot-turtle to fight against marine pollution

robot green turtle

On the occasion of the World Environment Day to take place on Friday, June 5th, ESTACA is presenting Green Turtle, the first bio-inspired robot-turtle designed to fight marine pollution. This unique robot, developed by the students at the engineering school specialising in new forms of mobility, is designed to effectively clean up port water. Its secret? Active underwater waste recognition technology and ergonomics adapted to the marine environment. This promising technology responds to a major ecological challenge at a time when 5,000 billion pieces of plastic waste are floating in our oceans.

Nature's positive revenge on pollution

To help in the effort to clean up the oceans, where more than 8 million tons of waste are dumped annually, ESTACA students have devised a bio-inspired technology that makes it possible to track waste in the aquatic environment. With its unique design that closely mirrors the physical characteristics of a turtle, the Green Turtle robot moves smoothly and agilely, perfectly suited to the mission of collecting moving waste. The students designed the device with the intention of installing it in ports to avoid any unwelcome contact with natural predators of the turtle, and even swimmers, while operating as close as possible to places where human pollution can be found.

Technological innovation at the heart of this environmental project

The technology developed by ESTACA students allows the robot-turtle to track waste in the aquatic environment and collect it in an intelligent, agile and energy-saving way. The size of the robot-turtle enables it to collect 50 litres of waste. It moves back and forth to a docking system where it spits out what it has collected, and then recharges before heading back out. An on-board sonar system is used to detect waste accurately, recognize it and collect it, once identified, without risk to the surrounding fauna. This active waste recognition and detection system is reflected in Green Turtle's slogan: “Against pollution, the best defence is attack.” The ergonomics to mimic a turtle's movements were both a major challenge for students and a guarantee of compatibility with the underwater environment.

Project-based learning to respond to current ecological challenges

Launched in September 2019 by the students of ESTACA's WAVE association, the Green Turtle project aims to propose a first functional prototype in the summer of 2021. Their design follows the project-based learning that lies at the heart of the school's educational model. By placing experimentation and practice at their heart, it allows students to experience directly the technical, technological and managerial requirements inherent in any engineering project.

As a school specialising in transport and new mobilities, ESTACA has placed the issues of environmental preservation and energy transition at the heart of its learning. For this reason, it encourages students to take part in today's ecological challenges, using their engineering expertise to benefit large-scale, eco-responsible projects. The Green Turtle project hosted by the association WAVE specialising in maritime transport, is one example of this. In 2019, the association built a cockpit powered by renewable energies which won the Solar and Energy Boat Challenge in Monaco.

 A prototype of an energy-efficient electric bicycle on the roads of France

As part of his thesis supervised by ESTACA and the Ampere laboratory in Lyon and financed by the company STEE in Orléans, Edgar TOURNON is developing a prototype of a hybrid recumbent bicycle, without chain and with solar panels. His goal: to produce his own electricity by pedalling and using the sun's energy, so there is no need to recharge his electric bike on the road! Edgar has designed a bike 30% lighter (light vehicle <50kg), which totally recyclable and has an unlimited range...

As part of the Sun Trip 2020, Edgar was supposed to take part in an international journey to Canton in China on his bike. Due to the pandemic, the Sun Trip has been reorganized around the theme "solar France & solidarity" and will be organized from 14th July to 9th August, starting in Lyon and arriving in Albertville (Savoie). On the program for Edgar Tournon: ascent of the Tourmalet, passing through Chambord, Blois, St Malo, Plouguerneau, Pau, Anduze…

A sportsman and scientist, Edgar Tournon has been working on his thesis at ESTACA'LAB for three years. He is conducting research into: “Optimal design of a mass-produced hybrid electric-assist bicycle using supercapacitors.”

The goal is to analyse and design a new generation of battery-free bicycles that run solely on human energy but allow the level of effort and fatigue to be controlled. The themes studied at ESTACA include vehicle energy management (efficiency, power transmission) but also the biomechanical aspects. What are the advantages of such a bicycle design for humans?

The brand U-feel developed by STEE is growing and plans to sell a new generation of bicycles that place minimum effort at the heart of its products. Supercapacitors can be used to replace the battery in certain configurations to create a much greener vehicle with an increased lifespan.
Edgar will be defending his thesis at the end of 2020.

Post-crisis: New opportunities for clean and resilient mobility


Open letter from the President of ESTACA

The economic situation following the health crisis has obviously raised many questions and concerns. The market has been particularly seriously affected in the aeronautics and automotive sectors. However, it is important to remember that the transport sector has been through crises before and has always recovered successfully. ESTACA is in constant touch with its industrial partners and closely follows changing skills needs and future prospects. The school is already planning support measures for graduates who will be entering the jobs market in 2020 and 2021. In the longer term, the school is assessing the economic climate for younger students who will be joining the School soon. For them, job prospects remain favourable as the current crisis has also highlighted emerging needs for new technologies and new uses, on which the next generations of engineers will work.

Proximity to companies is in ESTACA's DNA. The school is working with its partners to evaluate the professions and sectors that will be impacted, those that will continue to recruit engineers and those that will experience new needs. A support system for young 2020 graduates will be offered, as well as a change in training according to the needs identified. The constant exchanges that ESTACA has with the professional community and its experience of past crises (2008 automotive crisis for example), mean it can envisage a serene future for the young people joining ESTACA today and who will be entering the jobs market in 4, 5 or 6 years’ time, depending on their level of integration.

The ESTACA curriculum, its projects and research laboratories are geared towards the themes of energy saving, improving air quality, new energies (hydrogen for example), reducing weight through the use of ecological and intelligent materials, autonomous and connected systems, digital technology, etc. The engineers it trains are therefore perfectly prepared for new job prospects that are emerging in the transport sector, in the short and long term.

Whatever the sector, the need for mobility remains essential, and even when the constraints and needs change, the transport sector will continue to develop. Not all sectors have been affected by the crisis in the same way. In the field of rail and guided transport, for example, Alstom, a manufacturer of trains, trams and metros, has not seen a fall in orders. Tender projects may have been postponed, but “no customer has requested a delay in deliveries”, recently declared its CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge. For him, the current situation will benefit the rail sector, the crisis “will strengthen environmental awareness” and as a result, the appetite for clean mobility, he explained. In the short-term for example, the company is working to develop new “antibacterial handrails” for subways, trams and trains. Similarly, the SNCF is in constant touch with ESTACA and has confirmed a strong need for engineers in the coming months.

In sectors affected in the short term, such as the automotive industry, the medium-term outlook remains favourable for engineers who are prepared to keep pace with developments in the sector. For example, the plan unveiled by the French government on 26th May, provides for a 200 million euro subsidy to help with digitalisation, robotization and the ecological transformation of the sector; in addition, 150 million will be dedicated to research by companies in the sector. Future ESTACA engineers, who for the most part, when they graduate, will occupy jobs in Research & Development, will inevitably benefit from the investments that will be made to develop the automotive sector.

In aeronautics and space, the whole sector has not been impacted in the same way. The space sector has been less affected by the crisis because projects take place over long cycles. State aviation (military or civil defence for example) has not reduced its activity. Helicopters, business aviation and UAVs are also less affected than commercial aviation. While the respective economic weights are not the same, the dual nature of the sector is an asset to better weather the crisis. The crisis will also accelerate the need for skills to support the ecological and digital transition of the sector. The need to reduce operating costs, but also to limit greenhouse gas emissions, requires major changes in the design and architecture of airplanes and helicopters. These technological breakthroughs require new skills in on-board energy management, propulsion efficiency and lighter structures. The introduction of new digital technologies, particularly in maintenance, is also essential. ESTACA training is already focused on these issues. 

Finally, it should be remembered that the challenges and skills learned at ESTACA apply across all engineering professions. The diploma is universally recognised in the transport sector, and others. Many alumni take their careers in other directions. The job prospects for a graduate therefore remain excellent.

Ludovic Busson, President ESTACA