Shasta meeting with Arts et Metiers students took place on May 12th online.
These AFAM/Shasta meetings with students became a good tradition: another meeting was organized earlier in March. Students are coming to these meetings to ask questions about gadz'arts community in the US, parcours US, internships and more.
Jean Pommier, Nicolas Horde, Corentin Lazarus and Merwan Benhabib, members of the Shasta team, were available for students' questions.
Shasta program was launched in 2010 and since it has become an excellent support for your students in their internship search.
As of today, there are 12 students are currently a part of the Shasta program.
7 students who went through Shasta program found internships this year and are currently working ( or going to) as interns in different companies all over the US.
Do not hesitate to talk about Shasta program to Arts et Metiers students you might know or become a part of the program if you are currently an A&M student and want to work in the US.
More about the Shasta program: please visit our website
Nicolas Horde during the online meeting with students
On 20th of May SOCE Open House took place. It happened on Laval Virtual World platform. All the participants had to create an account and an avatar to participate in this fun virtual event.
AFAM participated in the Open House making a presentation in the virtual Aix-en-Provence's amphitheater and talking to students and alumni in the International Room ( La Rochefoucauld virtual hall).
Among AFAM participants were Patrice Brossard (Bo 195) based in Houston, TX, Xavier Wartelle (Li 82), Marc Amblard (Cl 84), Yarith Phay (Bo 191), all based in SF bay area.
It was a great moment of networking and fun.
Please join AFAM at our next events! Follow us online and sign up for our monthly newsletter not to miss our updates and online gatherings!
Hear what our alumni are saying about the event:
"Excellent event! Laval Virtual World platform is very well structured and playful at the same time"
- Patrice Brossard (Bo 191)
"It's a great opportunity to develop a professional network and maintain contacts with gadz community. I will be back if this event is organized again!"
- Marc Amblard ( Cl 84), AFAM CFO
"I had a great time in this virtual space moving from one room to another and meeting different people. Thank you to la SOCE team for organizing. Looking forward to the next La SOCE Open House event!"
- Xavier Wartelle ( Li 82), AFAM CEO
On May 14th another "Gadz story" took place. After the success of "Gadz story #1" with Dr. Ryan Alimo and Sacha Ghebali (Bo 211) AFAM event team led by Sacha Ghebali and Kevin Kok-Heang organized a second event around aerospace with Hugo Wagner (Bo 211) as a speaker. Nicolas Bagdassarian, currently studying in the US, helped organize this event.
About the speaker:
Based in San Francisco, Hugo leads strategic technology partnerships efforts for Airbus in North America, with a strong focus on sustainable aviation and commercial space. His mission is to find and explore early collaboration opportunities with providers of potentially disruptive technologies and to manage Research & Technology programs in coordination with strategic partners such as universities, federal research centers, startups, and multi-national companies.
Prior to Airbus, Hugo led the telecommunications company Orange into the heart of the Silicon Valley aerospace ecosystem to conduct assessments of early technology concepts, generate partnerships and develop strategic pilot projects with a focus on high-performance satellite networks. Hugo advised Orange Digital Ventures and Orange M&A on deals in the space-satellite connectivity sector and adjacent domains.
Before joining Orange, Hugo led technical due diligence efforts on various highly innovative topics for renowned visionary entrepreneur Peter H. Diamandis and consulted for Planetary Resources, a small satellite startup, on hyperspectral imaging technology applied to precision agriculture. Aside from being an Arts & Métiers alum, Hugo holds graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (M.S., Mechanical Engineering) - where he worked on combustion and robotics projects for NASA - and the International Space University - where he worked on the theory and use cases of open innovation in space. He served as volunteer STEAM Director of the San Francisco section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is an active member of the TED community, and member of the Explorers Club of New York City.
35 alumni and students attended the event.
Next session of "Gadz stories" series is scheduled for July 9th.
Sacha Ghebali, Hugo Wagner and other participants during the conference and networking in one of the breakout rooms
AFAM: Hello, Corentin, and thank you for this interview. You are a mechanical engineer at Blue Origin. Please tell us more about your job and the company you work for.
Corentin: Sure, Blue Origin was founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos with the vision to enable a future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth. Blue believes we must protect Earth by moving heavy industries that stress our planet into space, and enable humanity to access space to expand, explore, and find new energy and material resources.
At Blue, I am specifically involved in the New Glenn program. New Glenn is a heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. It is a massive rocket! Designed for operational reusability from the beginning, New Glenn is powered by seven of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engines, the world's most powerful liquid oxygen/liquefied natural gas engine. Together, the seven engines generate up to 3.85 million pounds of thrust, or roughly half the size of Saturn V’s thrust.
In this program, I am responsible for the design, procurement and commissioning of multiple pieces of GSE (Ground Support Equipment) enabling the operations of New Glenn, from stage integration to roll-out and launch at the pad.
AFAM: Does Blue Origin’s mission inspire you and in what way? How is its mission different from your previous company’s one (note: Corentin worked for TechnipFMC in the oil and energy sector prior to joining Blue Origin)?
Corentin: Blue is very unique in the sense that it has a single founder and owner. We do not answer to shareholders that might push for short term results that may sacrifice the long-term outcomes or are as dependent on funding held by the government that is affected by politics. We are doing new things that have to be figured out from scratch and there is a true mission and sense of belonging with the team. In my previous company, though there were similarities in the nature of the work, like working on huge and critical pieces of equipment, at TechnipFMC, we had an established business model and it was purely about turning a profit for the company rather than working with a long term vision in mind.
AFAM: what do you like the most about your job?
Corentin: I love how multidisciplinary my job requires me to be. I get to work with vehicle design teams, operations, facility, procurement and many of our subcontractors and partners. The stakes are high, and we must constantly challenge ourselves to simplify to make well-understood and safe solutions that lower the cost of entry to space. Blue is also a company that has grown a lot in the last few years so the work is also very dynamic as we must evolve our processes and sometimes create them to be more efficient at what we do.
AFAM: what do you find the most challenging about your job?
Corentin: Technically, the fact that we operate in a brutal and unforgiving environment and there is no room for error. Organizationally, Blue has been growing fast so you must be willing to remain agile and flexible as the tools & processes that used to work in R&D mode may not scale when you transition into production mode.
AFAM: what do you enjoy doing the most in your spare time?
Corentin: Lots of outdoor stuff, at this time, I do quite a bit of road cycling, then when the spring snow melts off in the mountain around late June, I’ll be doing a lot more backpacking and hiking. The Pacific Northwest region has a ton to offer for any outdoor enthusiast!
AFAM: how did being a gadzarts help you in your professional career?
Corentin: Oh, that’s a hard one, because there are some many things but if I had to keep it to the top 3, I would say:
1) International exposure, whether that’s the large network of alumni that are all over the world or the many options to study in foreign universities
2) The curriculum is not based on pure theory but as a Gadz’arts, we get a lot of practical experience in workshop and labs that enable us to appreciate what it takes to build something. It is a truly unique opportunity and would recommend to any Gadz currently studying to take advantage ‘Ateliers and Labos’ as much as possible. This is even more of an differentiator in the US job market where extracurricular activities are very important
3) Last but not least, the culture of humility and camaraderie that is built. I would say that Gadz have learnt to put their ego aside and stay real. This is particularly appreciated in a multidisciplinary environment where you need to earn the trust of others to make progress.
AFAM: every year we have several students looking for internships in the US in the aerospace industry. What piece of advice can you give them?
Corentin: One, be attentive to ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)requirements in jobs posting, this will most likely be the first thing that will block you as there are laws in the USA that restrict certain positions (especially related to defense and space) to US citizens and permanent residents. Instead, look into civil and commercial aerospace companies which do not fall under the purview of ITAR regulations.
Two, I would say that there are multiple roads to get to a point so keep your eyes open. I am an example of it, I started in oil & gas yet was able to gain the skills and experience that would transfer to the aerospace industry. Talk to professionals in the field, you’ll be surprised how diverse the industry and jobs can be.
AFAM: Thank you!
Photo: courtesy of Corentin
Other interviews in the "Ad Astra: dreams and reality of aerospace engineering" series:
Interview with Laurène Rokvam (Bo 210)
Interview with Jean-Christophe Boulon (Me 213)
Interview with Laurène Rokvam (Bo 210)
AFAM: Hello, Laurène, and thank you for this interview. After two internships at Airbus as technician first and then manufacturing engineer, you started your career at Airbus in 2013 as a Quality Engineer. Was it a coincidence or your conscious and well-informed decision to start your career in the aerospace industry?
It was not a coincidence; I have always been fascinated by this industry and this was a dream to be able to work for such a giant of Aerospace. It is pretty amazing to have the chance to work for something you’ve loved for so long and to see the result of your work.
AFAM: when you started your job at Airbus ( and earlier as an intern) how much of what you did, saw and experienced was about your “dream job” and how much of it was “reality”, sometimes boring, monotonous or even disappointing? Could you think of a few examples?
As you said, I’ve done two internships at Airbus before working there, so I had three different positions. The first one was in Toulouse, so the site is amazing with all the Final Assembly Lines, you have the possibility to see so many things! And the knowledge of the people in this company is amazing, I’ve met great people there. I was still an intern so I was doing a lot of experiments on material, which meant a lot of waiting time and I was not necessarily close from Manufacturing. When I did my second internship, I was still working for the Method department, still in the materials but on Composite in Nantes. I loved it! I was close to Manufacturing, the Team was great, I learnt so much and I was able to conduct the tests I wanted and have a direct impact on the production Quality. When I finished this internship, the position they offered me was inside the Quality department to do some Statistical Process Control SPC and some problem solving. I loved problem solving but SPC, not so much… And you can not always expect problems to happen! So the job was much less interesting, less manufacturing, more data analysis, no more Design of experiments (DOE). I realized that it was not what I wanted and that in such a big company you’re a bit lost in the middle of the ocean. Too many people for not enough opportunities. If you want to go above and beyond your job, you’re stepping on someone else's foot. So after almost two years, I realized it was time for me to see something else and go back to Manufacturing.
AFAM: In 2015, after you took your first steps in the aerospace industry, you decided to leave France to come to the US. Why so?
As described above, I was a bit disappointed by the job I was doing, and the industry was not in a great shape at this time. I also realized it will be complicated to grow in this company and if I was staying now, I would spend most of my career in this company.
I was 25 with an American citizenship so it was time for me to try something else.
AFAM: When you came to the US, did you try to find a job in the aerospace industry? If yes, what was your impression? Please tell us a few words about this change in your career, how did it go for you?
I was looking for a job in the US when I was still working at Airbus, so from France which is not an easy task. I started to apply to different jobs in the Aerospace industry but didn’t receive any feedback. After a few weeks, I contacted the AFAM to see what I could do better to reach the US market. Aurore Prevot (former Arts et Metiers representative in the US) helped me with my resume and my cover letter and while we were still working on it together, she told me that an Alumnus was looking for a Project Manager in the Chicago Area. It was for the Packaging Industry and a medium size company, the fact that it was a French company also helped me a lot to make my decision.
It is always a bit stressful to make a decision: new job, new field, new country, but at the end of the day it was a good decision!
AFAM: As of today, you work as a project manager at Serac Inc. Please tell us a few words about your day-to-day job and the company you work for.
Serac Inc is a company designing Filling / Capping machines for all type of Industry from motor oil to food and personal care. My job is to manage the project from A to Z with good quality, respected schedule and high satisfaction level of the customer. I’m helping the Sales Team before the sale is happening to make sure the pricing is ok and the technical solutions are adapted. Then I will work cross functionally with Finance, Engineering, Supply Chain and Shopfloor to make sure the project is moving forward. My day-to-day job is all about communicating with the customer, anticipating issues and solving issues that I didn’t anticipate.
AFAM: Is there anything in your life and work you miss from working at the aerospace company? What do you like the most about your job?
I loved the final product and working with so many different people with different backgrounds, it was really something nice about working at Airbus. I also loved working on Materials.
AFAM: how did being a gadzarts help you in your career?
Laurène: Being Gadz’Arts has helped to be humbler, it has helped me to find something good in each individual I met and make sure to use this something to make everyone happy and good at what he is doing.
From a more practical standpoint, as I said earlier, this is Aurore who helped me to remodel my resume and she is also the one who presented me the opportunity to work in Serac Inc. All this has been happening thanks to the Alumni. But even before this, my very first internship at Airbus, the one hat started everything, was also thanks to an Alumni!
AFAM: what would be your piece of advice to the students who are currently looking for an internship in the US ( in our Shasta program we currency have 18 students)
Be patient, do not hesitate to ask for help and take every piece of advice you can. Network is really useful so do not hesitate to use it. Working in the US is a great experience so keep trying, it will work and you will not regret it.
AFAM: thank you very much, Laurène, for sharing!
Laurène with her husband in Chicago in 2020 ( photo: courtesy of Laurène)
Other interviews of "Ad astra: dreams and reality of aerospace engineering" series:
Interview with Jean-Christophe Boulon (Me 213)
Interview with Corentin Lazarus (Me 209)