Ever smaller, ever more efficient! This is the motto of producers and of the general public where mobile telephones, digital photography, or laptops are concerned. If we can meet these twin objectives, it is largely thanks to microengineering.
The fields which directly or indirectly benefit from advances in microengineering are numerous.
In addition to relatively traditional applications such as timekeeping or precision mechanics, which are largely responsible for the technological reputation of our country, the medical or electronics fields are enjoying more possibilities afforded by miniaturization and access to nanometric dimensions.
Located at the crossroads of mechanics, electronics, materials, and computer science, your job as a microtechnical engineer is first and foremost a question of harnessing the physical laws which govern the miniaturization processes. It is perhaps robotics which best exemplifies this intersection of different disciplines: even if robots are not yet miniaturized, their operating principle is based on the combination and co-ordination of mechanical, electronic, optical, or computing components.
The numerous and different areas of your work are, as a result, often closely linked to industrial production: this situation means that you need to find production techniques that are both efficient (robotics, atomization, assembly techniques, etc.) and financially viable for your purposes. It should be noted that the development of these techniques often relies specifically on the use or development of tools that themselves come from microengineering.
Clearly, as a microtechnical engineer, you will absolutely have to be able to understand a product in its entirety. Furthermore, you are also often called upon to fulfill the role of project leader and to act as a real focal point at the center of a host of specialists from other engineering fields.
BSc (180 ECTS credits)
The 1st year is mainly given to the acquisition of the scientific tools such as analysis or physics which will become your faithful companions throughout your studies and professional career. But you are also going to come into contact with practical realities with, among other things, the CAD project for which you will design an object that you will develop during a processing internship in the 2nd year.
The undergraduate program then covers all microtechnological sciences and is grouped around the following topics: Control Systems // Electronics and Photonics // Products and Production.
A first project completes the training.
Prospects: MSc program
The MSc offers a host of optional classes and three projects (two semester-long projects and the MSc project), giving a specific individuality to your training.
For 30 additional credits, it is possible to complete your training in various transdisciplinary fields such as space technology, biomedical technology, or energy.
Other programs will be open to you after graduating with the BSc degree, in particular some interdisciplinary MSc programs.
More information on master’s study programs.
Please note that the information regarding the programs’ structure as well as details of the study plan may be subject to change.
Once you have successfully completed a BSc then an MSc, you will be ready to enter the professional world.
As a micro-engineer, you will have a very wide scientific and technological background which will open up doors to many industries, where you can work as easily in the field of design as in production.
In both cases, it will be your inventiveness which will be brought into play, whether it is for suggesting an appropriate technical solution to a problem or for developing efficient and financially viable production techniques.
The industrial sectors which need micro-engineers are as numerous as they are varied. For example, the fields of sensors and measuring instruments, medical and surgical instruments, as well as the specialized industries of optical instruments, clocks and watchmaking, or robotics. To these relatively traditional job openings should be added space technology, mobile computing, embedded intelligent systems (aviation and cars), and biomedical technology, which has considerable miniaturization needs. All of these products, for which the choice of materials is often crucial, generally also incorporate mechanical components, electronics, control or data-processing components, and are a perfect illustration of the multidisciplinarity, which will guide your development.
At the end of your MSc, you can choose to do a PhD at EPFL or another institution. You can then look ahead to an academic career in research, which will often be in an area which is close to the needs of industry, thus guaranteeing its dynamism. You will also have the opportunity to set up your own organization later on.
I had 3 job offers before the end of my studies, thanks to the lab that supervised my Master’s project EPFL labs have great Master’s projects for students, closely related to the industrial world.
It’s the opportunity for us to show the skills we have learned: I worked on an industrial project for my Master’s thesis, the mission went well and they hired me.
Since then, I have been working for TESA, a company that produces and sells precision measuring tools, from micrometers to 3D measuring machines. I’m responsible for developing photosensors and integrating them in the machine/tool. Sensors are the heart of it and it’s crucial to develop and master them.
I have always been very interested in technology, with a particular interest for light. For my Master degree in Microengineering, I chose to specialize in applied optics. When miniaturization is combined with light, many possibilities occur, such as suppressing and combining light, playing with cameras, developing non-contact sensors… It’s fascinating to work with state-of-the-art technologies that allow us to achieve cool and interesting things. Everything is possible in our miniaturized optical world related to metrology.
Working in the development area is part of my every day routine. And I’m not working with abstract equations anymore! Light obeys very specific equations that we have to combine to find solutions, depending on the tool (laser, camera) used. To deeply investigate the problems, I work in collaboration with the mechanical and the electronics teams. When the theoretical part is started, it needs to be tested in the lab. And it takes time: developing a practical device that matches the theory is a real challenge.
For managers, an EPFL diploma means high quality studies. I don’t recall any unemployed graduate from my former classmates. One thing I use every day and that I learned at EPFL is how to deal with problems. Listening, analyzing, not rushing, being systematic and meticulous. Our analytical mind and global view make the difference. Actually, I‘m interested in project management, in order to use those strong analytical assets more and learn how to manage properly a product cycle from A to Z.
In my job, every day is different!
One day, I’m in Emmental teaching a kid how to use an insulin pump and the next day, I’m at Geneva hospital to analyze glucose sensors. As a consultant in technical support and training for Medtronic Diabetes, my role is to train people living with diabetes how to use our technology (insulin pumps, glucose sensors and a data analysis software). I help them, as well as the health care professionals, to solve potential problems. It’s a very flexible job, but that also implies irregular hours and visits to clients every day and everywhere in Switzerland.
Thanks to my EPFL Master’s degree, I learn very fast and I very quickly understand technological systems: how the devices work, how to solve problems, how to interpret glucose data on our software. I don’t really use the formulas learned in books, but mostly the methodology and the rigorous working method I acquired during my studies. I could therefore adapt easily to my new job, to the pace and the language (Swiss-German).
I always wanted to have a meaningful job that contributes to society. I was interested in the medical field or the energy sector, and as I like interacting with people, I chose the medical field. For my Master’s degree, I decided to go for a minor in biomedical technologies. I had specific classes and I could work on different projects in the EPFL Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement, that are today closely related to my current job tasks.
I studied Microengineering because it’s a multidisciplinary field that has allowed me to study various subjects and to keep an overview on projects. This criteria was very important to me, as I always had many interests, maybe too many, and I couldn’t pick up only one field of study. I would really recommend to students, if possible, to already have a first professional experience (internship, student job) during their studies, to develop their soft skills (foreign languages, management), create their network and understand what kind of jobs are available on the market! As at the end of my Master degree, I needed to have a lot of patience to find the exact job I was looking for… I found myself confronted to a saturated job market, and was hurt by my lack of non-academic experience. Unfortunately, it’s a situation most young graduates are not really prepared for.
Looking for further details about this program? Please check its specific webpages or use the contacts below:
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