Changes at IFP School's Powertrains and Sustainable Mobility center

Three new appointments were announced within the Powertrains and Sustainable Mobility center at IFP School.

Ouafae El Ganaoui-Mourlan, co-holder of the ECAV Chair, is now responsible for the research-oriented Master's degree in "Electrification and Automotive Propulsion" (EPA), led by the Université Paris-Saclay.

After ten years at the head of the EPA program, Philippe Pierre is now in charge of the Energy and Powertrains program (MOT), replacing Paolo Paron, who has retired.

Finally, Maria Thirouard, Lecturer at the center and French Engineering Schools Liaison Officer, has been appointed Supervisor of the Powertrain Engineering (PWT) program.

A good opportunity to meet them and discuss their goals and ambitions!

Maria Thirouard, Philippe Pierre et Ouafae El Ganaoui-Mourlan
From left to right: Maria Thirouard, Philippe Pierre and Ouafae El Ganaoui-Mourlan

🎤 Ouafae El Ganaoui-Mourlan

After 10 years as Supervisor of the Powertrain Engineering program, you are turning to a research-oriented Master's degree: "Electrification and Automotive Propulsion".

What motivated this change?

Devoting myself more to research was for me an obvious choice and a personal challenge. This change will enable me to closely observe how the mobility market is evolving and assess the efforts that are needed to respect the environment and reduce greenhouse gases. We must adapt to fight against global warming. By taking on the responsibility for this program, I am committing myself to this cause.

What are your thoughts on the research needed?

Responsible innovation cannot take place without having first, the appropriate research. But this research must be done in close collaboration with the industry’s firms. We are going through a period where, now more than ever, industry and education must work together, hand in hand.

What are the links between the research work of the ECAV Chair and this Master's degree?

Both are based on the electrification of mobility and the decarbonization of transport. Tomorrow's mobility will be largely divided between electric, connected, autonomous and shared mobility.

The Master's degree enables students to acquire the specific skills required to work on the chair’s targeted applications. The chair provides the means and opportunity to collaborate with both research laboratories and the industry.

Three words to describe your program?

Innovation, environment, perspectives.

🎤 Philippe Pierre

What makes the Energy and Powertrains program (MOT) special?

The Energy and Powertrains program is designed to prepare students to become specialized engineers in the field of propulsion systems. The fields of activity covered are the automotive, maritime, aeronautical and off-road sectors. One of the major assets of this program is the support we have from companies in all these various sectors.

What would you say to a candidate who is still hesitating to join the MOT program?

Mobility is a sector undergoing a profound industrial change that requires motivated and adaptable engineers, who are willing to devote themselves to the mobility of the future. The remaining challenges are numerous and consist in adapting our sector to the future stakes of the energy and ecological transition.

All students joining this course do so as part of a 16- or 22-month apprenticeship program.

What are your views on the evolution of mobility and the skills that the sector requires most?

For many years, the main themes addressed in the program were around reducing local and global pollution. Today, both the industry and research are in upheaval, as they face new challenges brought about by the diversification of the sources of energy and their associated technical solutions. New specific solutions, adapted to each sector of activity, are being considered. And each solution will need to be adapted according to how it is used, the level of autonomy that is required, and the cost of both the energy and materials used.

Thanks to the strong support of our industrial partners (manufacturers, equipment suppliers, engineering and consulting companies, and research laboratories), we are modifying the objectives and content of the programs to be in line with these new requirements.

Students need to expand their professional skills on topics such as electrification, energy storage, new energy carriers (e-fuels, such as Hydrogen or Ammonia, for example), fuel cells, and adapting the various forms of combustion to these new energy carriers.

One of the specific skills expected by employers, aside from strong expertise, technical knowledge and soft skills, is having a "holistic view of the entire system". This last skill will allow students to integrate all the different aspects regarding the interaction of subsystems, but also costs, life cycle analysis, resource availability issues, and carbon neutrality, from design to end-use.

🎤 Maria Thirouard

Can you tell us what your job as a Program Supervisor consists of?

A program supervisor has three main missions:

First, regarding teaching: we are first and foremost teachers which implies, on a daily basis, teaching courses, following projects, coordinating teaching units, etc. In addition, a program supervisor plays a coordinating role: he/she defines the expected student learning outcomes, in conjunction with the industry, in order to design a quality training program that provides the technical and soft skills needed in the professional world. And all of this must be done within the school's timeframe, which must be constantly optimized.

Then, there are the recruitment aspects: the program supervisor interviews student applicants and presents the best candidates to the admission board.

Finally, our role is also to provide assistance and support to students throughout their schooling: we schedule regular reviews to ensure that each student is progressing well. We also continue to follow them during their apprenticeship/internship in companies and help them to prepare for job interviews. All of this is part of a team effort to ensure the student’s academic success.

One of IFP School's strengths is the personalized tutoring of students. Can you tell us more about this? How do you see your role?

Each student has a tutor at the School who will follow him/her in a personalized way.

The principle is to sit and chat with students on a regular basis to discuss their career aims.
During these sessions, the tutor helps them define their career path and gives them advice on how to reach their goals. We identify with them the key factors of success of their project.

From my point of view, it is a very enriching human experience that allows us to forge strong ties with our students. When they finally get the job of their dreams, sometimes several years after having left the School, and they send us a sincere message of thanks... it's very moving!

What’s new in the Powertrain Engineering program?

The Powertrain Engineering program has undergone a series of adjustments since 2018 to gradually integrate all the learnings related to electric engines. The contents have been redistributed to prepare students for these new challenges. This year, the theme related to Hydrogen mobility has been introduced. This is a growing subject in Europe brought on by the energy transition and these skills are very much in high demand amongst our industrial partners.

What is this year’s guiding principle?

Joy! I am extremely happy to have this opportunity to help our students acquire and develop new skills.

Interviews conducted by Meyling Siu