Every year AFAM Community Manager spends one week in France on school’s campuses to meet students, faculty and staff members and inform them about AFAM’s activities and our Shasta program.
This time my visit was pleasant and productive and has led me to Atlanta, Paris, Bordeaux and then Aix-en-Provence.
Sunday, Nov. 2, Atlanta
It was not that hot in Atlanta and it was raining (Hotlanta – is the ads you see when you arrive at the airport -referring to climate as well as leisure destination). But a welcome received from our students in this home of Georgia Tech was nice and warm. We went to Nicolas Horde’s (AFAM representative in Atlanta) favorite bar – LadyBird Grove and Mess Hall in Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside for a community brunch.
Most of our members in Atlanta are Georgia Tech students. Georgia Institute of Technology is being for several years one of the most attractive academic destinations for our students in the USA. The conversation around the table was engaging and dealt with different subjects such as Parcours US program, life in Atlanta, Shasta program, to mention a few.
In Atlanta together with Nicolas Horde, Thomas Francois, Tanguy Passini, Alexis Cotterlaz et Hugo Hugo Hamon
Monday, Nov. 3, Paris
During last year AFAM’s off-site, support to gadzarts entrepreneurs was mentioned as one of the directions AFAM will take in the next decade. Thus, I met a few gadzarts entrepreneurs in Paris (and later in Aix-en-Provence) as well as visited the largest startup campus in the world – Station F.
Nicolas Muron, founder of Moonbikes startup incubated at Arts et Métiers incubator was one of the gadzarts entrepreneurs I got acquainted with in Paris.
Moonbikes is making ultra-light electric snow vehicles. Nicolas is currently raising funds to move his business forward and is now looking for an US-based partner linked to the mobility sector.
Photo courtesy of Moonbikes: Nicolas Muron on stage during his startup’s presentation in Chambéry in 2018
I also met Ryan Lober and his partner Antoine Hoarau, co-founders at Fuzzy Logic Robotics. Ryan is one of the rare Americans who studied at Arts et Métiers and AFAM already wrote about him in 2013. Today Ryan is Parisian, founder and CEO of a B2B robotics startup with a mission to democratize industrial robotics by proposing user-friendly human-robot interfaces.
Fuzzy Logic Robotics is incubated at Agoranov, a public Science and Tech incubator based in Paris.
Together with American born and raised Ruth Lied, a new young and dynamic professor of English at Arts et Métiers Lille, I tested a Fuzzy Logic Robotics new software.
Ruth and I have organized several informational sessions with our US-based alumni for Lille students (by the way, Ryan Lober was one of those who kindly agreed to participate in these useful informational sessions). And we are looking for more alumni willing to share their expertise with our young gadz'arts.
Ryan Lober, Ruth Lied, Antoine Hoarau and I at Fuzzy Logic Robotics
Tuesday Nov. 4, Paris
Tuesday, I continued discovering entrepreneurship ecosystem in Paris visiting station F. Station F is the biggest startup incubator in the world. It hosts big corporate entities, accelerators as well as more then 1000 innovative startups.
Arts &Métiers Acceleration (AMA) has also found its place on this unique entrepreneurship campus. I met Joël Saingré, General Manager at AMA and Gaël Buvat, Program Manager at AMA to talk about AFAM and A&M Acceleration presence at Station F.
Sculpture by Jeff Koons behind "Welcome to Station F " sign
Tuesday was also dedicated to meetings with Arts et Métiers staff members. Two main highlights of the day were a meeting on the future of our Shasta internship program and a meeting with Sandra Cologne, in charge of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Arts et Métiers.
Sandra’s goal is to support students-entrepreneurs helping them succeed in the new PEIE (Parcours Entrepreneurial and Innovation Technologique) cursus open to gadzarts-entrepreneurs at Arts et Métiers.
As to my first meeting – it was dedicated to the future of our main program – Shasta internship program. Together with Audrey Stewart (Director of International and European Development), Daniela Stelmaszyk (in charge of International Mobility), Mickael Rivette (Head of Corporqte Relations) and Jean-Yves Colombel (Career Department at la SOCE) we were looking into how to improve our current internship program and provide our students with more internship opportunities.
Wednesday, Nov. 5, Bordeaux
Campus of Paris is a mandatory passage on AFAM’s road. As to other campuses, every year AFAM Community Manager visits different campuses to present AFAM and Shasta program. This year the campuses of Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence have been chosen as AFAM’s destinations (Lille and Metz were visited last year).
Bordeaux campus was welcoming and a lot of students assisted at the Shasta presentation.
Workshops' visit accompanied by Frédéric Lalardier was also on my agenda.
I witnessed Rooster’s production. The emblematic animal was being made in the lab at the time of my visit and was intended to be offered to Bordeaux’s Mayor the next day.
Production of the Rooster at Bordeaux campus on November 5th
Bordeaux campus (picture: https://artsetmetiers.fr)
I met I2M laboratory’s director Jean-Christophe Batsale to discuss possible cooperation with American Universities.
I also had a detailed conversation with Valérie PERNOT at students affaires and corporate relations as well as with Catherine GOETZ, Professor, in charge of APE (accompagnement professionnel des étudiants) nationwide.
Catherine GOETZ welcomed the action taken by AFAM as to students’ guidance and preparation in the framework of the Shasta program.
Thursday, Nov. 5, Paris
Thursday was marked by a meeting with parcours US students guided on their way towards graduated studies in the US by Associate professor Michael Deligant and his team. Every year there are more than 30 students joining best American Engineering schools. All of them are considered part of our diverse community once they arrive in the US.
Our parcours US students have always been very active. Last two presidents of West Coast Group – Louis Renaux last year and Mattia Pelissou this year - are both UC Berkeley Graduates and Parcours US students. Our representative in Atlanta Nicolas Horde – is also a former parcours US student.
AFAM is looking forward to more new interesting projects and events co-organized with our young gadzarts.
This time our US parcours students were lucky to meet Charles-André Richard (Li 202), who came to Paris campus to talk about his experience in the US. Back to France this year, Charles-André became co-founder and CTO of Unkle, a startup revolutionizing French Rental Market today.
Charles-André Richard presenting his American journey in front of Parcours US students
Parcours US students
Friday, Nov. 6, Aix-en-Provence
Friday has been spent on Aix-en-Provence campus which as you might know is building a fulfilling partnership with Texas A&M.
I arrived on campus along with Eric Didier (Ch 83), co-founder and COO of Comet. Eric has been living in Boston and then SF Bay Area for 8 years before moving to the sunny Aix-en-Provence area in 2018.
A day started with a very warm welcome and constructive meeting with a campus Director – Philippe Collot.
By 11 am an amphitheater was already full with 1 and 2nd year students interested in AFAM, Shasta internship program and Eric’s testimony about his American journey.
Eric Didier in front of Aix-en-Provence's first and second year students
Photo: Aix-en-Provence students
The Shasta meeting followed by a working lunch with Philippe Collot, Laurent Barralier, (Professor at MSMP laboratory), Regis Kubler (Associate Professor) and Laurence Combarieu (Deputy Director at MSMP laboratory).
Two meetings occurred in Aix were in line with a new entrepreneurship direction AFAM took.
I met Benjamin Tardieu (Ai 208) whose entrepreneurship trip AFAM has been following for a little while now. Benjamin is a Founder and CEO of GetBackSports, a sports tech startup.
Benjamin was able to take part in several individual sessions with Aix students together with me sharing his experience and encouraging students to get a professional experience abroad. Benjamin himself spent a year working in the United States before starting his entrepreneurship adventure.
Benjamin Tardieu wearing GetBack T-shirt (photo by William Cannarella)
The second meeting was a complete surprise (very pleasant too). I met a COO of Sikiio, Nicolas Ract (Ai 92). Sikiio offers a multisensory experience in a well-being area. Sikiio is on the road now travelling through France and showing its innovative well-being concept.
If you see a pink truck under your window, come say hello to Nicolas and take a moment to sit in the magic Sikiio chair to forget about all your worries and problems.
Sikiio trailer on Aix-en-Provence campus
My week in France was full of interesting meetings and discussions and hopefully, AFAM will have even more exciting projects on the horizon and we will be able to provide our students and alumni with more help and support in their American journey.
See you next year!
Your AFAM Community Manager