A look back at the IESE Alumni Day (Journée des Anciens IESE)


What is it?

 » Journée des anciens IESE  » (IESE Alumni Day), took place on Thursday, April 28. The event, which has been organized for several years by students and personnel of Polytech Grenoble, aims to bring together former and future graduates of the IESE/3I department. In case you missed it, IESE is the acronym for “Informatique et Electronique des Systèmes Embarqués”, which translates to “Computer Science and Electronics for Embedded Systems”. It was previously called 3I before being changed to IESE, and has been a Polytech Grenoble Department for 34 years.

The event started with a speech from David Eon, head of the IESE department, in which he congratulated the personnel and students for a well-deserved return to the Polytech building after a long absence marked by the COVID crisis and the relocation caused by DCM pollution (dichloromethane) in the building. He also gave an overall presentation of what the day would consist of; the main events were two lectures given by former IESE alumni and a presentation of the projects carried out by the fourth-year students.

A look into AI and its evolution

The first lecture was given by Christophe Reynier, class of 2002 alumni and CTO at TKM Innovation (a company based in Voiron, near Grenoble). The main theme of the lecture was “Artificial Intelligence”, how it’s used, and how it will be used for future IESE graduates.

AI has been present since 1956 and has been on a trajectory that can be deemed satisfying. It did go through two negative periods dubbed “AI Winters” (1974-1980 and 1987-1993) during which concrete scientific breakthroughs carried by AI were nowhere to be seen, which caused doubts to rise among investors and the public opinion. AI is used very widely in everyday life (for example with apps/sites like Waze, Tinder and Deepl) and covers a variety of topics- that we will not be diving further into today- such as machine learning, neural networks and real-life infrastructures.

The lecture lasted 45 minutes and was very insightful as it showed us all the different sectors that a future IESE graduate can work in (backed by M. Reynier’s various experiences for the last twenty years) while also showcasing the importance and omnipresence of AI in today’s scientific world. It also covered the different team settings that an engineer might find himself in as well as the many individual skills that can help build a team once they’re brought together.

Connected Objects, a threat to our personal data?

The other lecture was given by Yannick Gradel, alumni from the class of 1996 and manager at Kaizen Solutions, an IT engineering services company specialized in industrial IOT (Internet of Things) and headquartered in Grenoble. The main theme was “Connected Objects” and the contrast between their development and the protection of our data.

What’s a connected object? It’s an object capable of communicating various information to another object or to the Internet. It can capture, transmit (via different types of connectivity) and sometimes process data to help decision-making or initiate action. The topic of connected objects is heavily linked with our personal data and its protection given the evolution of the former. But by considering connected objects as entry points for data collection, we end up with products that feed Big Data (large, hard-to-manage volumes of data that inundate businesses) daily and exponentially. Therefore, two methods can be used to minimize the risks of our data being unprotected: the accountability principle (determine the risks, mitigate them and measure their effectiveness) and the privacy by design (basically, protect personal data right from the design stage of the connected object and keep protecting it through every other stage from start to finish)

Like the first lecture, the second lasted 45 minutes and M. Gradel answered all questions and gave very useful insight regarding the various sectors of work for IESE students and the current state of the world of connected objects.

The IESE4 projects

Lastly, the projects carried by IESE4 students- in teams of 3 or 4- were showcased in a big room. Each team had its stand with their project and a poster detailing how it works. The teams answered some questions and presented their projects to the IESE3 students and the former graduates that came to their stand. As a IESE3 myself, I’ve found a number of projects to be quite interesting and/or original (A robot that solves a Rubik’s cube, a project that uses a Minitel interface, a wood tracker that helps prevents wood thefts from trucks, etc.)

The projects lasted all semester and the teams used theoretical knowledge acquired from their two years curriculum to deliver a working result that can be used for real-life purposes. For example, the Woodtrack -developed by three IESE4 students, Anas, Alex and Sarah- consists of a strap connected around the wood in the truck and a sensor that lets the sawmill employees know when and where the strap was opened thanks to a GPS and a Bluetooth module. This helps prevents wood theft from trucks and the results can be seen on an Android app that was developed for the project.

A great event, and we hope it won’t be the last!

After the three main attractions, students, professors and alumni had thirty minutes to discuss topics or ask questions, followed by a nice aperitif-meal to end the day in the best of ways.

All thanks go to the organizing team and the students and professors who attended, as well as the alumni and our main guest speakers who gave students generous advice, answered their questions, and allowed them to establish contacts to expand their professional network.

It was a great event, but also a special one as it was finally possible to make it happen at Polytech after two years of restrictions. It certainly won’t be the last edition thanks to the large number of spectators and participants among the IESE students and alumni.

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