The thousand and one lives of the French engineer

Managers, builders, fighters, traders, disruptors, start-ups … "Ingested" are everywhere! Even where we do not expect them. The demand far exceeds the supply of engineering schools.

France lacks engineers. It is nevertheless, par excellence, the job that offers work – whatever the chosen path (prep, post-baccalaureate, apprenticeship …).

By 2032, with the retirement of baby boomers and the many economic, ecological and technological changes taking place, at least 40,000 students should be graduated per year instead of 33,000 today. "The world already lacks engineers to feed and care for people around the world, ensure access to clean water, build sustainable cities …", alerted François Cansell, then president of the Conference of directors of French engineering schools during the presidential election campaign, in February 2017.

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Engineering schools warn about lack of graduates

Young graduates do not know the crisis, who get a permanent contract right out of school – and sometimes even before! It is still necessary to convince high school students and students to choose these sometimes boring channels on paper. Engineering schools are committed to negotiating the shift in new trends. Avoid being confined to their specialty. Multiply hybrid courses.

A singular craft conjugated in the plural

What is the real or perceived impact of these initiatives? This is the supplement menu of the World Campus published this week on the occasion of the Salon des Grandes Ecoles. He explores the thousand and one facets of this singular profession which is conjugated in the plural, the thousand and one lives of the engineer. Manager, builder, traveler, fighter, tradeur, disrupteur, start-upeur … The "ingested" are everywhere! Even where we do not expect them necessarily.

The world of health offers them high value-added jobs, as much if not more than traditional sectors such as aeronautics, automotive, robotics, chemistry, metallurgy … A CentraleSupélec, a quarter of teachers-researchers work in connection with biotechnology. The "industry of the future" is looking for its men-orchestras to pilot the factories, design them, build them – sometimes destroy them, as in the nuclear industry. The "quants", these mathematicians trained at Polytechnique responsible for all the evils of the financial crisis of 2008, are opening up new horizons in big data, artificial intelligence … Others prefer "Choose science over money"such as this student at ESPCI, the high school of physics and industrial chemistry, six Nobel Prize winners.

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Industry: the permanent revolution

And then democratization is underway, to try to fill the lack of candidates and young people's appetite for these trades. Today, 20% of those admitted to engineering schools hold a DUT or a BTS. Beyond their specialties (metallurgy, automobile, computer science …), the institutions highlight the undeniable specificity of engineering education: learning to learn.

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