Paige - Ecoles Centrales

B. Mechanical Engineering
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

As part of the UQ Abroad program, I completed one semester at the prestigious French engineering school, École Centrale Paris. The University of Queensland gave me the gift of going on this adventure to experience an aspect of engineering that combines my passions with the formal education that I received at UQ. I indulged in a new culture, improved my French language skills, and received an invaluable education. I specialized in courses such as Risk management, Supply Chain and Logistics, and Production and Scheduling management, where I realised the potential for a career in this field.

I believe that, if the opportunity arises, everybody should immerse themselves into a new city. Living in France meant that I was able to become a ‘local’ of Paris, rather than a tourist who passes through for a week. I spent my weekends travelling with my new-found friends to Brussels, Lyon, Lille, and many more cities. During the scattered holidays, I made my way to Italy, Spain and Portugal! Every new city brought exciting memories and a new appreciation for language and culture. My classmates were from all walks of life; France, Spain, Russia, England, America, and India to name a few. Although we are scattered now, I know that we all share treasured memories that will eventually bring us back together. 

Personal experience

École Centrale is one of the three “Grande Écoles”, and is renowned for its industry connections. Attending the school for the “Double Degree” is not for the faint-hearted. I attended for only the 6-month period, to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. 

As a Centralien, you are not just an Engineer. You are regarded highly for your mathematical ability, and in France, your career path is open to the fields of Finance, Engineering, Industrial Supply Chain and Logistics, and Consultancy. 

Accommodation

The residence where you and every other student lives is located on the school’s campus. This is fantastic, as the students use the night time to have society meetings, celebrations, and themed nights! You become a “Centralien” almost instantly and feel the pride of the school wearing the school jumper. 

Budget

I took roughly $2500AUD in cash and enough in the bank to provide for travel and food. There is a residence living deposit of approximately $550AUD that was returned to me a few weeks after returning home. A full guide is emailed to you, and the administration in Centrale are wonderful at answering any queries you may have.

Professional development and employability

As part of my classes, I undertook the Innovation Project, which is similar to the Project Group Thesis at UQ. With a team of 4, we created an aerodynamic profile wing that would attach to the under-chassis of a Tesla S model, to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle. We used the laboratory resources: laser-cutter, 3D machines, wind tunnels and workshop. The resources were endless, and if time permitted we could have made real-size models of our design in both composite and fibreglass materials to test and to present to Tesla Motors. 

Internships:

  • The school is renowned for its connections with top companies across the world. To make the most of this, I suggest going for the S8 semester in your final semester at UQ, and then pursuing a one year Masters program at Ecole Centrale Paris as well. Alternatively, there is the Double Degree Program. I would definitely speak to a Centrale Advisor about a strategy that suits you! 

Professors:

  • The professors at ECP are straight from Industry, and after delivering their 3 hour class, tend to go back to their full-time job. They teach what they work in and are quite inspiring. They both motivate students and give realistic advice about the industry and the expectation. In terms of education, this was very unusual for me as I couldn’t see most of my professors outside of class-time. 

Highlight

Overall, I chose to attend Ecole Centrale Paris because of its prestige and opportunities globally. It was the perfect way to end my undergraduate degree, as it opened my eyes to global opportunities, and inspired me to find my personalized career path. A large of my heart will always be at Centrale where I made lifelong friends and had treasured moments.

Top tips

Language:

  • I suggest taking the time to attend French classes, or to get a tutor, for a few months before leaving Australia. You will come home with much more improved proficiency if you have a B1, B2 (or better) level of French to start with. However, learning French in France is relatively easy to do in school as the students have a peer-run program called “Tandem”, which allows you to buddy with a French native, and you have scheduled meetings with them. During these meetings, you spend half of the time speaking in French and then swap to English. This way you both learn!

Make Friends!

  • The most treasured memories I have of my exchange were travelling around with my newly-made friends. From ice-skating on the Eiffel Tower to late night wanders through Brussels, these will be the best times in your life. Don’t forget though, this school is renowned for delivering the top Mathematicians in the world, so making study groups with peers is a wise choice. Additionally, the residence floor that you live on has roughly 23 people living on it. These students will become your family and are excited to learn about your country as you are of theirs.

Sport:

  • For the 6-month Erasmus students, participating in Sport is not compulsory. However, I recommend joining a sport of your liking! After many years, I finally put my football boots back on and joined the “Les Filles Foot” football team! It was a perfect way to make friends and travel into Paris to see PSG Football games together!