Education at MINATEC: 2016 achievements

December 2016

Alps Design Lab, where technology meets design

Alps Design Lab, a CEA Tech Open Lab, has tackled the challenge of how to use a shipping-container-sized electrolyzer to create a “normal-sized” teaching demonstrator. In a few weeks, the lab will deliver to Liten a refrigerator-sized system that packs in a high-temperature furnace, heat exchanger, and steam generator—qualities sure to appeal to future users!
Design students, supervised by faculty, participate in Alps Design Lab projects to help R&D labs and startups to make their technologies easier to understand and share! The lab, founded around a year ago, produces use scenarios, 3D renderings, models, prototypes, and demonstrator systems. Projects generally run from six months to a year, depending on how complex they are.


  October 2016

2016–2017 academic year off to a strong start for Phelma

Phelma’s 2016 incoming class has set new records in the common entrance exam rankings, rising between 100 and 200 slots depending on major. The school’s 2015 rankings were already remarkable!
The total number of incoming students was similar to 2015. In initial degree programs, Grenoble Institute of Technology’s Phelma engineering school admitted 363 first-year students; 272 completed preparatory programs, 39 the INP preparatory program, 40 were admitted based on academic qualifications, and 12 are repeating a year. The alternating work-study program in integrated systems design (microelectronics and telecommunications) admitted 14 students, a figure Phelma would like to see rise to 18 next year. The number of female students also rose once again at 29%, up from 23% in 2015.

CIME Nanotech gets ion milling equipment

CIME Nanotech recently commissioned an ion-beam milling machine (from scia Systems GmbH) in its clean room. The €500,000 machine was financed in part (50%) by IRT Nanoelec. It will be used for both training and R&D. It has a Hidden spectrometer to track, monitor, and identify the material being etched in multilayer samples.
The ion beam is 218 mm in diameter and can be used to etch magnetic materials for MRAM, metals for contacts, piezoelectric materials, and oxides. The sample holder, which rotates and inclines to prevent particles from being deposited on the substrates, can handle substrates up to 150 mm in diameter.

Grenoble Institute of Technology and STMicroelectronics partner on analog electronics certificate course

Grenoble Institute of Technology’s continuing education course on analog electronics, which kicked off on June 1, counts 19 students, all employees at STMicroelectronics Grenoble and Crolles sites. The program was developed in partnership with STMicroelectronics, and participants will earn a certificate in analog electronics design, a real need for many manufacturers, including STMicroelectronics.
The 126-hour program includes 34 hours of classroom instruction alongside second-year students at Grenoble Institute of Technology’s Phelma engineering school.
In June 2017, the second session of the course will be open to STMicroelectronics and other interested microelectronics companies. And work is in progress to make the program eligible for funding under the national CPD program.

Parvis des Sciences science fair growing

The 2016 Parvis des Sciences, which coincides with France’s 25th annual national Science Week, is expanding considerably this year, with twice as much event space and more than 40 activities, up from 27 in 2015.
October 6 and 7 will be open to school groups only; the general public is welcome to attend the event on Saturday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The program will be chock-full of lectures, exhibits, workshops, and more. One day will surely not be enough for die-hard science lovers!
This year’s event will also include new topics: energy, light and materials, and biology and healthcare, with a special focus on the brain. Visitors will have a chance to learn about the brain’s role in sensory perception and explore brain functions like a neuroscientist using the tools of the trade: MRI and EEG.

Phelma: new management, same objectives

Anne Vilcot, who took the reins as President of Grenoble Institute of Technology’s Phelma engineering school on June 15, 2016, will lead an administration team that remains virtually unchanged with: Alice Caplier (international relations), Saïd Obbade (corporate relations), and Christine Morales (administration). The team’s only new member, Patrice Petitclair, is a former project manager for Groupe INP and succeeds Stéphane Pignard as academic dean.
The team’s top priority is to continue to ensure quality academic programs despite increasing budgetary constraints by seeking out efficiencies and creating synergies. Phelma will also focus on developing continuing and executive education programs with Grenoble Institute of Technology and through corporate partnerships.
Finally, the school aims to recruit a more diverse student body to increase the number of female students and students in alternating work/study programs.


June 2016

Interview: Michel Barsoum (Drexel University, Pennsylvania)

You are known worldwide for your work on materials, particularly MAX phases. What brought you to Grenoble for three months?
In materials science, to gain real understanding of a material you need large single crystals. The only person in the world growing MAX phase single crystals is Dr. Thierry Ouisse, my host. I also wanted to spend time with Thierry because I believe he has a very elegant explanation for why the MAX phases conduct electricity the way they do, a topic that has been puzzling me for the past 20 years that I think Thierry has solved!
Do you plan to come back to Grenoble?
I certainly will return to Grenoble in the future. The project I am collaborating on with Thierry will fund me to visit Grenoble for another three weeks between now and 2018. I am also applying—with Thierry—for a proposal that will allow me to spend much more time in Grenoble in the next three or four years. Hopefully it will be funded!
 What were your impressions of the MINATEC campus, where researchers, students, and startups work side by side? How do you feel this supports innovation?
I get the impression that it is more difficult to start small companies in France than in the US. That said, the idea has worked quite well at MINATEC, as it has elsewhere!

MOOC on habitable exoplanets

More than 3,000 students are enrolled in a new MOOC on habitable exoplanets that launched on June 1 on the FUN platform. The course was created by Grenoble-Alpes University and the Grenoble Universe Science Observatory under the direction of astronomer Jean-Charles Augereau. Content was contributed by nine scientists, including Phelma graduate and INAC PhD candidate Maxime Morinière.
The online course is free of charge and open to the general public. It will run until August 3. It includes around twenty videos lasting between seven and ten minutes and covers topics like the detection and formation of planets and the methods used to identify their life forms. Students can complete a quiz after each video and a final homework assignment to earn a certificate of course completion.


April 2016

Pint of Science brews up something for everyone

The Pint of Science Festival, to be held on May 23, 24, and 25, will invite scientists into local bars to present their research to the general public while sipping a tall, cold beer. This year marks the second edition of the festival, with fifteen events at downtown-Grenoble bars, the student union building (EVE) on the university campus, and at local science education center La Casemate. Topics covered will include neuroscience, geophysics, the social sciences, and new technologies. MINATEC will be well represented with among others Leti’s Tony Maindron talking about OLED microdisplays for augmented reality. A Ph.D. candidate from Tony’s lab will introduce him. The 2016 Pint of Science Festival, founded in London in 2013, will take place simultaneously in twenty cities across France and in nine countries worldwide. Last year 24,000 people participated.

FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition reaches new heights

The 5th French edition of the international FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition, organized by Grenoble Institute of Technology, will be held on May 11–12 in Fontaine. Around twenty high-school-student teams are expected to enter their robots—built and programmed according to specifications provided before the event using supplies provided by the organizer. As in previous years, the robots will have to demonstrate their agility as they pick up balls and cubes on the competition floor. In 2016 competitors will face a new challenge: a 30° incline the robots will have to climb before depositing the objects collected. And, to spice things up even more, the robots will also have to climb over three bars around twenty centimeters off the ground. Stay tuned to see how they did!

Blueberries could soon juice up smartphones

The 5In a project for the Nano@school program, seven Grenoble high-schoolers made solar cells from fruits and vegetables. CEA-INAC Ph.D. candidate Cyril Aumaître supervised the project, in which students extracted colorants from fruit and vegetable juices (spinach, blueberries, etc.) to make Grätzel cells, then characterize and model the cells before comparing their performance. And the outcomes were promising. A one-square-meter PV solar panel made from blueberry juice cells provides enough power to charge a smartphone in two hours. At the end of January, two of the students presented their poster at an international youth science conference in Singapore, winning the Jury’s Award—from a jury consisting of four Nobel laureates!
Learn more on the students’ blog:



Phelma library now has “women in science” collection

On March 11, 2016—just three days after International Women’s Day—the Grenoble Institute of Technology-Phelma library will cut the ribbon on a new “women in science” collection to be followed by a series of lectures and a Midi MINATEC brown bag lunch on the same topic.
The project, initiated and financed by France’s APMST (association for gender equality in science and technology), will help counter the popular belief about science’s “gender.” The collection contains biographies, works on education and diversity, scientific publications in fields like the cognitive sciences and neuropsychology, and sociological research on the role and social status of women in science throughout history. About half the collection, which will ultimately contain around a hundred works, will be in the stacks in February.

More information