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Julia Guérineau, an institutional researcher specializing in the development of cyber-physical and mechatronic systems in the Systems Engineering Department, is “guided by the light,” a lovely metaphor meaning that she likes to seize the opportunities that make her tick. In fact, this is what led her to study mechanical and production engineering at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie de Cachan, part of the Université Paris-Sud. Indeed, a 3D model she spotted at a university open house piqued her curiosity to such an extent that it inspired her to study engineering: “At the time, mechanical design seemed to me a world where you could easily express your creativity and let your imagination run free,” she recalls.
She continued her studies in mechanical systems engineering at l’Université de technologie de Compiègne. These studies led her to explore other avenues: “During an internship at a SME, I was able to explore many aspects, such as product development, testing a new production line and setting up a process to facilitate the transition from idea to market,” she explains. A “light” came from this last experience: “I realized that I was passionate about optimizing development processes and that this was the kind of thing I really wanted to do.” This interest was confirmed during her final year project, which marked the end of her engineering studies in France.
Pursuing doctoral studies and devoting several years to it was not part of her plans while studying in high school. But this was without counting on the insight of Professor Matthieu Bricogne, who convinced her to pursue graduate studies once she had earned her engineering degree. He came up with an argument that resonated with Julia: you do the research for yourself, for the pleasure of it.
She seized the opportunity. That’s how she began her PhD under the supervision of professors Matthieu Bricogne, from Université de technologie de Compiègne, and Louis Rivest, from ÉTS. Her thesis, defended in 2021, focused on the approaches, processes, methods and tools for companies wishing to develop multidisciplinary products as part of a transition to Industry 4.0.
Along with her PhD studies, Julia had the opportunity to apply and develop her knowledge in the field, notably as a research project manager at Vestechpro, a college research centre, and then as a research and innovation manager at the said centre. There, she led applied research projects, specifically in the field of smart and connected health wearables.
In May 2023, she returned to ÉTS as an institutional researcher thanks to the Femmes de génie (Women in Engineerig) program. She saw this as an opportunity to advance her knowledge in her field, collaborate with numerous industrial partners, share her knowledge with students and serve as a role model as a queer woman in a traditionally male environment. “I would have liked to have had access to queer female role models during my career. There really weren’t any. I’d like to be that role model if only to help one person,” she adds.
What would she like to pass on to her students? “That engineering is fun, and that it’s important to choose a discipline or a job that’s in line with your values,” she answers. She also offers a word of caution: “Of course, we have heavy responsibilities as members of a research team, as we are called upon to solve societal challenges. But we must be humble and recognize that technology won’t solve everything, especially when it comes to global warming. To get there, we’ll have to work together,” she concludes.
Working in a multidisciplinary way, in collaboration with people from different backgrounds while showing kindness to others… There’s no doubt that Julia has chosen the right school.