Spotlight : archives

EPFL alumni

EPFL Alumni
Rolex Learning Center
Station 20
CH-1015 Lausanne

alumni@epfl.ch
Phone: +41 (0)21 693 24 91
epflalumni.ch

Yannick Do, Bachelor and Master in Communication Systems (2009)

alumni june-july 2015Yannick Do works for a consulting firm in technology

I’ve always been interested in the web and computer networks, so I chose to study communication systems. Since 2011, I’ve been working for one of the biggest consulting firm for technology. I’m a specialist for technical architecture and installation of IT infrastructures and processes, but I also work on many different projects. This is the advantage of the consulting field: every day is different and gives you new challenges and opportunities.

After my graduation in 2009, I did a six-month internship for the Swiss embassy in Japan. I worked for the Sciences and Technology office. I organized events for innovation or to promote Swiss start-ups and small companies in the Japanese business milieu. I not only discovered a new culture, but I also learned a lot about international collaboration and scientific intelligence. When I came back to Switzerland, I spent 6 months at EPFL as a software developer, in the topometry lab, for my civil service. Then I started my current job.

In my day-to-day routine, it’s not really the high-level technical skills learned at university that are important. What’s important is that after the high quality and intense studies at EPFL, I’m definitely very well prepared to learn quickly and take new challenges every day. As a consultant, I particularly liked the idea of travelling, working on big projects and the possibility to have a career. Even as a junior, I’ve had responsibilities from the beginning and I could prove my capacities.

Edwina Klay, Bachelor and Master in Materials Science and Engineering (2006), PhD (2010)

alumni may 2015

Edwina Klay works for a watchmaking company, as lab manager.

I wasn’t ready to enter the job market right away, and I was interested in doing a second Master’s degree in Technology and Entrepreneurship. At first I didn’t want to do a PhD, but I was offered to work on a project in collaboration with the industry. I thought it was a good compromise and I said yes. This PhD gave me the chance to really master a subject, and it will probably remain the only opportunity I’ll ever have. In the job market, everything goes too fast: your product is not even available on the market that you already think about the next one. I really enjoyed doing my PhD, even if I did work a lot.

I found a job after a couple of months in a big watchmaking company. I work for the metallurgical lab, a job that perfectly matches my profile. Many engineers in materials science work in this field, especially in R&D.

After 2 years, I’m now a lab manager. We are responsible for homologations and production support. It means that when a problem occurs in production, we are the experts who have to find a solution. For example, if a piece breaks when assembling the watch movements: does the problem comes from the material? Or from the thermal treatment? Or is it an error in the parameter settings? I’m also responsible for the lab development, to implement work methods that ensure the quality of our products. And I‘m involved in alloy development, which is good, that way I remain active in R&D.

Before I started EPFL, I was interested in chemistry, microengineering and materials science. I chose materials science and engineering because it’s multidisciplinary and there are not too many students in every class (compared to other departments). I never regretted my choice!

Sophie Nallet, Bachelor and Master in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (2006) and PhD in Life Sciences (2010)

alumni avril 2015 Sophie Nallet works for a biopharmaceutical company that develops vaccines and therapies against central nervous system diseases. She works in the biophysical analytics department.

Even if it’s not easy every day—the process to develop vaccines and drugs and make them available on the market can be very long—every step, every time that something works in the lab, is a small victory.

I discovered biotechnology when I was doing my Master’s degree and I found it very interesting from the beginning. When I graduated, I decided to do a PhD in this field before looking for a job. Today, I work for a company that develops vaccines and therapies against central nervous system diseases, like Alzheimer diseases. To give you an idea of the importance of this topic, by 2050 we expect that numbers to triple to 135 million Alzheimer´s Disease patients worldwide.

My job is to develop analytical methods to identify and quantify the compounds that are in our products – vaccines, antibodies and small molecules; all of them could possibly prevent or cure these diseases. When the methods are developed, they are used to measure and analyze products and make sure that they comply with the specifications. It can be products that are almost ready to be tested in clinical phase, or products that are still at the research stage.

I spend part of my time in the lab, but I do many other things too! I work on the documentation that is sent to the regulatory authorities, I take part in working groups, I supervise a technician, I have contacts with external partners, etc. Every day is different!

Christian Bazungula, Bachelor and Master in Electrical Engineering (2009)

Alumni of the month

Christian Bazungula works as a software engineer for Mikron SA, a company developing and building assembly automation and test solutions.

…different applications. At Mikron SA, I’m responsible for the automation part in our building machine projects. I program for PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers), which integrates different peripheral systems into the machines, like lasers, sensors or vision systems. I work mostly on pharmaceutical or automotive projects.

One of my classmate works for clean energies, in the wind energy field, another one develop embedded systems for Diesel motors. I chose to study Electrical engineering after attending a presentation given by the section director at EPFL. I liked the numerous applications possible and I could imagine myself working in the field.

Working in team is part of my routine. The client’s needs require us to develop complex processes, and I collaborate with different experts: mechanical engineers, industrial vision specialists and electrical technicians. It’s very rewarding! Even if sometimes I regret that our job is “too” industrial: because of cost constraints, we can’t always make as many tests or experiments as in research.

Houssem Ben Salem, Master in Microengineering (2012)

©HBS

Houssem Ben Salem is an applied optical engineer at TESA, Switzerland

EPFL labs have great Master’s projects for students, closely related to the industrial world. It’s the opportunity for us to show the skills we have learned: I worked on an industrial project for my Master’s thesis, the mission went well and they hired me.

Since then, I have been working for TESA, a company that produces and sells precision measuring tools, from micrometers to 3D measuring machines. I’m responsible for developing photosensors and integrating them in the machine/tool. Sensors are the heart of it and it’s crucial to develop and master them.

I have always been very interested in technology, with a particular interest for light. For my Master degree in Microengineering, I chose to specialize in applied optics. When miniaturization is combined with light, many possibilities occur, such as suppressing and combining light, playing with cameras, developing non-contact sensors… It’s fascinating to work with state-of-the-art technologies that allow us to achieve cool and interesting things. Everything is possible in our miniaturized optical world related to metrology.

Working in the development area is part of my every day routine. And I’m not working with abstract equations anymore! Light obeys very specific equations that we have to combine to find solutions, depending on the tool (laser, camera) used. To deeply investigate the problems, I work in collaboration with the mechanical and the electronics teams. When the theoretical part is started, it needs to be tested in the lab. And it takes time: developing a practical device that matches the theory is a real challenge.

For managers, an EPFL diploma means high quality studies. I don’t recall any unemployed graduate from my former classmates. One thing I use every day and that I learned at EPFL is how to deal with problems. Listening, analyzing, not rushing, being systematic and meticulous. Our analytical mind and global view make the difference. Actually, I‘m interested in project management, in order to use those strong analytical assets more and learn how to manage properly a product cycle from A to Z.

Gwenael Robic, Bachelor and Master in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (2009)

Gwenael Robic works as a field engineer for Bombardier Transportation.

many people but I’ve always wanted to discover and learn more about these technologies. When EPFL organized open days for prospective students, I had been impressed with the infrastructures, the labs, the projects’ importance, and the diversity on the campus. It was clear for me: I would study Electrical and Electronic Engineering at EPFL.

For my Master’s thesis, I worked on a project in Germany, in a research institution. It was exactly what I was looking for: combining the possibility to work in the renewable energy field and learning a third language. I developed the electronic control of portable structures designed to orientate solar panels to follow the direction of the sun, and therefore increasing the productivity (in more technical terms, I worked on a new type of inverter-driver for an innovative solar-tracker system).

As soon as I created a Linkedin account, companies started to contact me. Germany has a lot of interesting opportunities in energy and industry to offer. My first job was in Berlin with a small company where I could take responsibilities and initiatives from the beginning, even if my German was not so good! We developed a lab to test an energy storage system for energy produced by a residential solar plant. We were able to simulate the power of the production and consummation of four houses! Unfortunately, the solar field has become less important these last years, and I decided to orientate my career to another field I was really interested in: the railway industry.

Today, I work as a field engineer for Bombardier Transportation. We build the next generation trains that are going to replace the current Swiss Inter-regios and Inter-City ones. I have numerous tasks: I test software for embedded systems produced by our suppliers—air conditioning systems, converter, door control, brakes—and I implement our tests methods: I make sure the systems work. I’ll also be involved in the launching of new trains and of the after-sale service.

I’m very proud to be part of such an industrial adventure. I like being on the field, solving technical problems, and working together with experimented engineers and technicians with different backgrounds. Every day is a new challenge, something that not only gives me a lot of motivation, but also makes me want learn more and share my knowledge.

Grégory Widmer, Master in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (2013)

Grégory Widmer is a chemical engineer for a multinational company producing high technology resins for the aeronautics and automotive industry. He is also founder of the website « PianoFacile »  (www.pianofacile.com).

My job is to simulate, either on the computer or with experiments in the lab, the thermal behaviour of the products that are manufactured in our production plants (for example resins used to assemble Airbus and Boeing wings). If we know the manufacturing processes risks, we can implement safety measures to prevent accidents, better temperature control, emergency measures in case of failures, or even create safer processes.

As a student, if you have the chance to do internships, take it! They will help you to understand the different possibilities and jobs opportunities in chemistry, and you will have more time to think about what you are interested in (chemical worker, laboratory technician, applied research, chemical engineer in a private company, etc). It can take some time to find a first job, and having some professional experience is a clear asset !

When I was a student, I created a website that is today number one in its field. I love playing the piano, I learned by myself when I was at high school and I decided to explain my learning method on-line. The website was very simple at the beginning, but I improved it and monetized it in 2010. Even if I could not earn enough to live on it, it offered me a really comfortable situation as a student.

If you are passionate about something, it is always possible to find time for it. When I launched the website, I had to work a lot, plus I had to learn HTML, Javascript and CSS—three computer languages necessary to code a webpage. But if you plan your time correctly and study hard, you will see that it’s definitely possible to have time for extra curricular activities.

Cleo Moulin, Bachelor and Master in Microengineering Applied Optics, Minor in Biomedical Technologies (2012)

Cleo Moulin

Cléo Moulin is a consultant in technical support and training for Medtronic Diabetes.

One day, I’m in Emmental teaching a kid how to use an insulin pump, and the next day, I’m at Geneva hospital to analyze glucose sensors. As a consultant in technical support and training for Medtronic Diabetes, my role is to train people living with diabetes how to use our technology (insulin pumps, glucose sensors and a data analysis software). I help them, as well as the health care professionals, to solve potential problems. It’s a very flexible job, but that also implies irregular hours and visits to clients every day and everywhere in Switzerland.

Thanks to my EPFL Master’s degree, I learn very fast and I very quickly understand technological systems: how the devices work, how to solve problems, how to interpret glucose data on our software. I don’t really use the formulas learned in books, but mostly the methodology and the rigorous working method I acquired during my studies. I could therefore adapt easily to my new job, to the pace and the language (Swiss-German).
I always wanted to have a meaningful job that contributes to society. I was interested in the medical field or the energy sector, and as I like interacting with people, I chose the medical field. For my Master’s degree, I decided to go for a minor in biomedical technologies. I had specific classes and I could work on different projects in the EPFL Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement, that are today closely related to my current job tasks.
I studied Microengineering because it’s a multidisciplinary field that has allowed me to study various subjects and to keep an overview on projects. This criteria was very important to me, as I always had many interests, maybe too many, and I couldn’t pick up only one field of study. I would really recommend to students, if possible, to already have a first professional experience (internship, student job) during their studies, to develop their soft skills (foreign languages, management), create their network and understand what kind of jobs are available on the market! As at the end of my Master degree, I needed to have a lot of patience to find the exact job I was looking for… I found myself confronted to a saturated job market, and was hurt by my lack of non-academic experience. Unfortunately, it’s a situation most young graduates are not really prepared for.

Deborah Heintze, Bachelor and Master in Bioengineering