Sino-French engineering education program success

A Sino-French engineering education program at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has turned out to be a success with dozens of students finding high-tech enterprise placements.

A Sino-French engineering education program at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has turned out to be an overwhelming success with dozens of its first class of students finding high-tech enterprise placements.

“Around 40 students will enter companies for 24 weeks on internships at companies in the summer. We have been offered more than 130 internships by famous Chinese and French companies, including French aircraft and aerospace component company Safran, and French automotive supplier Valeo,” said Zhang Lihui, associate director of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University – ParisTech Elite Institute of Technology.

She also said that some companies like Safran have guaranteed employment for students directly after the internship.

Launched in 2012, the program jointly carried out by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and four French engineering education schools, Ecole Polytechnique, Mines ParisTech, Telecom ParisTech and ENSTA ParisTech, is a pilot project to cultivate outstanding engineers by blending the characteristics of French engineering training with those of Chinese engineering education.

Students are offered a six-and-a-half-year curriculum that includes intensive French and Chinese language training. It includes three years of education in fundamental scientific courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science, and three and a half years of engineering cycle courses carried out in a close collaboration between professors from the five schools and experts from the industry, including a half-year internship.

The programs offer three majors, mechanical engineering, energy and power engineering and information engineering.

Joaquim Nassar, French dean of the institute, said the French engineering education system was introduced in the Napoleonic period to cultivate applied talent that could adapt to the jobs as quickly as possible. Therefore the system features close cooperation between the schools and enterprises.

Unlike other education programs, in which universities dominate the teaching, the SJTU– ParisTech Elite Institute of Technology has enterprises participate in the education from the very beginning.

“The cooperative companies have six seats out of the total of 16 in the joint board that makes plans on teaching and training for students and on future development of the institute,” said Zhang.

Meanwhile, R&D and management experts from companies also joined the program to teach students directly.

“Last year alone, 18 R&D and management experts from companies delivered more than 300 classes, accounting for 20 percent of all the classes for students in the engineering cycle courses,” she said.

Zhang added that the enterprise experts not only teach students how to use the tools and technologies of real industries, but also bring ongoing research projects in companies to let students participate in and bring their creative solutions or inventions back to companies for applications directly.

“When students see their achievements used in production, they feel proud and become more active in innovation,” said Zhang.

In the past six years, the students have made great achievements, praised by both the industrial and academic societies. These include a network security monitoring system developed by four students for Tencent to effectively detect network attack or invasion.

Zhang said the first class of students will graduate in March next year and revealed some companies have already offered posts to the graduates.

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