Georgia Tech in France: Renewing Partnerships and Exploring New Opportunities

My travels this week bring me to France and Germany. I, along with Yves Berthelot, vice provost of International Initiatives, will spend time at our Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and meet with our French university, laboratory, and business partners.  Additionally, we will participate in the GlobalTech Presidents’ Forum in Munich, offering updates on Georgia Tech’s innovations in the internationalization of education and research.

Our trip started in Paris. On Monday, we signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CentraleSupélec, with its President Hervé Biausser. CentraleSupélec was formed as a result of a strategic merge of two of the French Grande-Ecoles that focus on science and engineering.  With adjacent facilities, Georgia Tech has collaborated with Supélec in Metz, France for many years.

Georgia Tech and Supélec created a joint international research laboratory that was the first of its kind funded by the CNRS, the French equivalent of the National Science Foundation. This MoU renews and grows our strategic partnerships and calls for exchanges of ideas, curricula and people. CentraleSupélec attracts some of the best minds in engineering and shares many common interests with Georgia Tech.   Furthermore, CentraleSupélec is building a new campus in the “University of Paris-Saclay,” which is best described as a brand new industry-academia “city” bringing together the best of France. We look forward to many more years of productive partnership.

Monday afternoon we went to the Paris research center of PSA Peugeot-Citroen where we met with Sylvain Allano, chief scientist at PSA. Dr. Allano is also a member of the Board of Directors, and a good friend of Georgia Tech-Lorraine.  As a major automotive company, the research agenda of PSA ranges from manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence, to materials, power systems, and more. The overlap with Georgia Tech’s interests is extraordinary. We hope not only to strengthen the relationship with PSA in France but also to expand it to presence and work in Atlanta.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Metz, France. Metz is a beautiful, small and historical city in the region of Lorraine, very much the center of Europe within short train or car rides of Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium and Paris. Metz has also been the home of Georgia Tech-Lorraine for the last 25 years. At Georgia Tech-Lorraine we house 100 master students and 35 PhD students doing cutting edge research. In addition, more than 500 Georgia Tech undergraduates spend a summer, a semester or more at Georgia Tech-Lorraine taking courses from Georgia Tech professors, living within the French community and enjoying a wealth of European culture.

Georgia Tech-Lorraine is truly the gem of our international initiatives. It has taken some time but it is now running very well, thanks to the excellent staff and faculty there. I want to particularly mention Prof. Abdallah Ougazzaden who does a magnificent job as director, with the able help of Ms. Brigitte Hubert. During this visit I was able to have lunch with a couple hundred undergraduates and a selection of master and PhD students. All are excellent and seem quite happy!

I also met with dedicated faculty who care deeply for our students and are doing extraordinary research in optics, materials, sensors and nanotechnologies. Relative to the latter, I visited the brand new Lafayette Institute. Managed by Georgia Tech-Lorraine, the Lafayette Institute is a center for nanotechnology research and works with industry and technology transfer, right next to our main building. The facilities are simply world class and the work is quickly ramping up.

Georgia Tech is very proud of its presence in France. We are unique in that relationship. We are figuratively and literally a French institution. We are there to stay.

- Rafael L. Bras

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