Nicolas Sicard (Efrei): “the engineer develops interpersonal skills and technical skills” | Silicon

Nicolas Sicard, director of the engineering school program at Efrei, provides an update on the training and future of digital graduates.

L’Efrei, a general engineering school in computer science and digital technologies, with 4,500 students and technophiles, manages two campuses, one in the Paris region, the other in Bordeaux. Nicolas Sicard, director of the Grande Ecole engineering program, talks about the evolution of the offer, the professional future of graduates and the weight of artificial intelligence on the courses. – The training offer is changing. What are the developments undertaken by the Efrei?

Nicolas Sicard – The Efrei emphasizes individualized or à la carte courses.

NS- Pedagogies are more and more interactive. They are based on collaboration, on the project mode (design thinking, hackathons, challenges) and on professionalization. One thinks in particular of the involvement of companies in training, the sponsorship of programs and the development of certifications.

We form our students to transversal technical fundamentals (cybersecuritydata/artificial intelligence, clouds) common to all, whatever the specialty at the end of the course. In addition to a solid technical base, the Efrei engineer develops an important part of skills related to interpersonal skills, behavior, the ability to collaborate, including in a different cultural context in the broad sense: job, international, etc.

Aware of the importance of these subjects, Efrei further integrates the issues and challenges of socio-ecological transition (climate, carbon footprint) and CSR (sustainable development, ethics, occupational health/safety) in training.

What is the ambition?

NS- The objective is to equip future engineers to support their companies more effectively in taking these issues into account.

This is essential because digital represents both a target as a sector of activity (impact in terms of energy consumption, transformation of working methods/conditions, distribution/control of information, etc.) and an essential tool in the service of the fight against global warming, the consumption of resources, research, health, agriculture. But also at the service of democracy.

Once they have obtained their engineering degree from Efrei, what do your students do?

NS- In terms of sectors of activity, a large proportion work in the IT/DSI services of companies (nearly a third), another significant proportion goes into the information technology (ICT) industry (approximately 20%).

Some begin their professional career in a consulting firm or design office (>10%). The telecoms, automotive/rail/naval/transport, banking/insurance sectors account for around 20% in total.

The rest is allocated to the other business segments.

In terms of jobs:

Most of them (>40%) are technical consultants, either design, development, R&D or MOE engineers. Others become consultant/engineer Business Intelligence or are Data Analyst (~20%). Still others are IT security engineers (slightly less than 20%).

Then, they are divided between network, systems and telecommunications consultants and engineers (>5%), manager, fintech manager, management consultant profiles (>5%) and business engineers, junior project managers and architects IF (~5%).

Is artificial intelligence redefining the engineering profession?

NS- In part, because with the AI ​​many professions are set to disappear.

AI and robots will gradually replace activities carried out by human beings in a certain number of professions, in particular low-skilled (assistantship, support). In other cases, robots will help humans make decisions (medical diagnoses for example). A knowledge and a understanding of AI — and an ability to communicate with it — becomes necessary, even essential for an IT engineer.

Other activities and professions, undoubtedly more qualified, will arise in connection with the development of AI, including the design, training, control of artificial intelligence and the associated ethical issues.

Concerning ethical questions, precisely, a new European legislation is in preparation (theArtificial Intelligence Act) in an attempt to control risks without excessively slowing down or hindering innovation. It will probably come into effect in the coming months, and the IT engineer will have to integrate this new legislation and its consequences.

(photo credit © Efrei)

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Nicolas Sicard (Efrei): “the engineer develops interpersonal skills and technical skills” | Silicon

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