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PSL-Hack 2018, promote entrepreneurship through interdisciplinarity
From March 26th-30th, 40 students from three engineering schools (ESPCI-Paris, MINES ParisTech, Chimie ParisTech) as well as EnsAD and Université Paris-Dauphine will invent and propose innovative projects for EDF as part of PSL-Hack. Anne Devulder, a lecturer at ESPCI-Paris and organizer of the event, talks about this educational module to raise awareness of entrepreneurship at the heart of PSL-Week "Engineers" at Université PSL.
PSL: You’ve launched, for the second year in a row, the PSL-Hack at ESPCI-Paris. How did this idea begin?
Anne Devulder: This initiative started last year from an observation: there are few courses like management and entrepreneurship in the curriculum of ESPCI Paris. In today's society, these skills are essential for a young engineer. Engineers are increasingly trying to set up their own start-ups and need to have the managerial, entrepreneurial and legal background to carry out their project. The ESPCI-Paris is a favorable and rich place in terms of technological and scientific innovations. We are therefore trying to bring more "business" skills to our students to broaden their areas of expertise and best prepare them for the corporate sector. Thus, in 2017, the idea of setting up an educational module on entrepreneurship, the PSL-Hack, was decided during the PSL-Week, a joint inter-school week for the 3 engineering schools. In 2018, we made sure to include other PSL institutions. Thus, students from EnsAD and Université Paris-Dauphine will also participate in the event and bring design, management and business skills to the projects.
PSL: The PSL-Hack is an event in partnership with EDF to allow the emergence of innovative ideas. What will be the theme of the event?
AD: Students will be mobilized around the digital transformation applied to news topics for EDF. Specific themes are still being defined. EDF makes sure to find innovative and interesting topics for students.
PSL: Students from ESPCI Paris, MINES ParisTech, Chemistry ParisTech from EnsAD and Université Paris-Dauphine will participate in the event. What are their motives and how will they work together?
All students show an appetite or curiosity for entrepreneurship, and some already have a project in mind. This event is a great opportunity for them to cultivate their passion.
AD: There will be around 40 students participating this year, as in 2017. Their motivations differ depending on the schools and their interests, but in general, they hope to take advantage of the PSL-Hack to become aware of entrepreneurship and learn how to work in project mode with real manufacturers. All show an appetite or curiosity for entrepreneurship, and some already have a project in mind. This event is a great opportunity for them to cultivate their passion. The goal of the PSL-Hack is also to make students work together in croiss-disciplinary skills (science, technology, design and business) so that everyone brings a different point of view. I will train the teams by mixing the students as much as possible, so that the skills are well distributed.
In order for the winning projects come out on the market, they will be all the more competitive as they are entirely conceived by students with different skills and points of view in science, design, and business.
PSL: And this year, the EnsAD and the Université Paris-Dauphine join the event: what motivated this choice?
AD: Yes, absolutely. This is a project we had last year, but logistical obligations prevented us from implementing it. This year, we were able to work upstream with EnsAD to get a week off the students' schedule. At the Université Paris-Dauphine the schedules are made at the scale of each Master’s program, which makes things a little more complicated. Each student volunteer has to obtain the agreement from the Head of the Master's program. But we are working on it and we hope for the presence of a few Dauphineers this year. This mix of student profiles participating in PSL-Hack is also a very significant highlight for our partner EDF. In order for the winning projects come out on the market, they will be all the more competitive as they are entirely conceived by students with different skills and points of view in science, design, and business.
PSL: EDF was very pleased with this project, the proof of the partnership is renewed, what were the consequences of PSL-Hack 2017?
AD: We had very good feedback from the 2017 edition, from the speakers, the students, and our partner! EDF was pleasantly surprised at the good level of the projects. The students brought fresh ideas which were innovative and very shifted towards smart cities, urban lighting... Some of these projects will probably end up being developed in one way or another by EDF in the months to come up. In return, the students of the winning projects were invited to spend half a day at the premises of EDF and its subsidiaries (Sodetrel, Citelum ...) to discuss the project with EDF experts and other collaborators. It was a great opportunity for them to discover the world of business and discover EDF behind the scenes as they worked in the PSL Hack.
PSL: The PSL-Hack is one of the inter-school week events, but some conferences are open to the public. Can you tell us a few words?
AD: There will be two conferences open to the public. One by a young researcher on artificial intelligence and the other by Guilhem Velve Casquillas, CEO of the successful start-up "Elvesys". The purpose of these conferences is, on the one hand, to discuss a very innovative and very dynamic theme: artificial intelligence and on the other hand, to have the testimony of a young startupper who managed to set up his business, despite the difficulties that any entrepreneur may encounter and the high investment that this entails.