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Angèle P. - Smart Grid Product Developer, Nexans, Belgium

Class of 2015 - Exchange Semester on the Master in Architectural Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano

Published on August 22, 2017 Updated on August 22, 2017
"The degree is highly regarded by recruiters."


Originally from Poitiers, I completed the first part of my engineering studies in Tours. At Centrale Nantes, I divided my free time between handball training sessions, matches and competitions and campaigning for the student body elections.

I applied for a semester abroad to join the Master in Architectural Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano in order to confirm my interest for this field.

Passionate about the course, I developed an interest in building techniques and thermal building. I also enjoyed being able to choose a comprehensive third-year option in Energy Production and Management (thermal building, renewable energies, thermodynamics, combustion engines).


After an internship at Engie Cofely on renewable heat and energy efficiency, I opted for a V.I.E (French International Internship) in Belgium at Nexans as a Smart Grid product developer. This position matched by search criteria: I was looking for a relatively small structure and a technical environment. On a personal level, it was an opportunity to re-experience life abroad.

Nexans manufactures all kinds of accessories and cables for the transport of electricity and is also expanding its activities in the smart grid market. Since renewable sources are more unpredictable and more decentralized than conventional systems, it is necessary to have a better understanding of the state of the electricity grid and the quantities of electricity injected into it. This can be done by adding sensors of all types to cables and accessories. The data recovered provides an assessment of the state of the network in real time. The R&D department in which I work determines the design of these sensors and their integration into existing products.

This is a very new area, where everything we do is breaking new ground, which gives a start-up feel to the team. We spend a lot of time in brainstorming sessions and then in the laboratory to make and test prototypes. I enjoy working with colleagues from other departments: from the technician who produces the mould of the part to the buyers who evaluate the cost of the product to the production workers. We move forward through trial and error, building the solution as the results progress, but we also have to stay informed of competitor development because patents are numerous. I hope to pursue my career focussing on renewable energies directly related to the smart grid.



The knowledge required for this work is very varied. So far, I’ve had to rely on what I can recall from, amongst others, my courses in materials, mechanics, design, electronics, electricity, electrical networks etc. New recruits to the company are generally highly specialized in electromechanics or electronics. So, I’ve had some catching up to do in these areas, but as a Centrale Nantes graduate I benefit from the advantage of knowing how to adapt quickly and I have a fairly complete profile with a solid grounding in many subjects. Practical work has been useful to me in developing a practical spirit. I spend half of my time in a laboratory using tools and working with my hands.



I enjoyed the freedom to modify / create my own path. Given all the specialisations / options, double degrees, apprenticeships, internships / gap years or semesters abroad, few students complete Centrale Nantes with the same profile and experience. The time left for extracurricular activities is also particularly positive and very formative. The industrial exposure pays off: we graduate from Centrale with a minimum of 3 internships as well as a certified level of English and 6 months of international experience. A lot of ammunition for the first job interview! Finally, group work and mutual aid were a constant feature of my training. This is key to learning to adapt to others and to accept that everyone works differently.



It is the ideal school for the curious, who wish to develop on different levels in order to be sure to find their path. From experience, it is rarely the one imagined at the beginning. Centrale confers a degree that is highly regarded by recruiters in France and the opportunity to undertake a double degree in a university abroad provides international exposure for students wishing to pursue an international career.


Openness, flexibility, international.

Published on August 22, 2017 Updated on August 22, 2017