Climate emergency: Telecom SudParis engineers take responsibility

Télécom SudParis

How can we introduce climate issues to the fields of mathematics, electronics, computer science or networks lessons without being suspected of "greenwashing"?  In engineering schools, the first-year core curriculum is dedicated to the "essentials" and it is only in the second and third years that engineering students begin to specialize. So how do you train a responsible digital engineer in three years? Interview with Emmanuel Monfrini, Deputy Director of Education at Telecom SudParis.

The environmental consequences of engineers' choices

The starting point is simple: it is absolutely necessary that an engineer graduating from Telecom SudParis should be able to measure the environmental consequences of their choices at each stage of the processes and products they will contribute to developing. Each decision they make will have an ecological impact, be it direct or indirect, positive or negative, which will be associated with the production and use of the final product.

The very expression of the problem highlights the fact that awareness of this essential aspect of their training becomes all the more concrete as the engineer begins to specialise. However, we believe it is essential to give all our students a general knowledge, allowing them to put an objective scientific reality behind the phenomena that come into play and the notions of environmental emergency, climate disruption or carbon footprint. This is why we include the scientific elements of the ecological and digital transition right from the first year, including in scientific core courses.

What is the purpose of studying networks in a context of environmental transition?

For the teacher-researchers concerned, this is not an easy question to answer:

  • How can probabilities contribute to sustainable development?
  • What are the rules of frugal programming?
  • What is the purpose of studying networks in a context of environmental transition?

The continued involvement of the teaching team in the development of this project has allowed us to identify a common thread that will run throughout the year, thanks to the intervention of experts in various fields.

While immersion in the issue of responsible digital technology is intended to be gradual in our basic training programs, our approach to environmental issues as a whole is more direct. To attract students, to sharpen their critical thinking and to encourage problem solving, our courses cover a wide range of issues.

By taking the best of the proposed angles of attack, each student can make their own path.

For example, they can choose to study philosophical, sociological and economic aspects. These are complemented by “serious games” such as those offered by Institut Mines-Télécom during digital sobriety days or pictorial approaches thanks to the famous “Climate Fresco” which is based on IPCC work and soon the “Digital Fresco”, which focusses on the environmental impact of digital technology.

Similarly, the approach proposed by Maxime Efoui-Hess, Digital Project Manager at Shift Project, complements those mentioned previously: quantitative, quantified, analytical... with a didactic approach to the issue from the perspective of carbon constraints and the depletion of non-renewable resources. By taking the best of the proposed angles of attack, each student can make his or her own path and deepen their awareness.

Carbon and digital sobriety conference

What about the General Engineering - Environment course?

For those who want even more, we also offer an “Environment Course” in which students will receive exactly the same excellent training as the others, but to which they will add an eco-responsible dimension by carrying out all their projects and internships while focussing on accelerating the ecological transition.

The involvement of our partners in this course is an additional asset for our educational programs.

By bringing together students, industry experts and teacher-researchers, Telecom SudParis is taking on the challenge of creating, along with its industrial partners, the profession of the responsible digital engineer. Our graduates will always be engineers in cyber security, video games, networks... but they will also be proactive in fixing and preparing the world of tomorrow.