Engineering students’ compulsory internships are covered by a tripartite agreement. When the student has found an internship, s/he has to arrange for the signature of an agreement by the three concerned parties (the company, the School, the student), and provide an original copy to each of the signatories.
The internship agreement should be signed as soon as possible after the obtention of the internship but at the very latest, prior to the start of the internship. Architectural students have a different agreement due to the particular status of the internship in their program.
Very rarely, a company may refuse to sign the internship agreement. It is then necessary for the student to contact his departmental internship coordinator explaining the reasons why the company does not wish to sign the document. Possible solutions will then be discussed between EPFL and the company.
The signature of the tripartite EPFL agreement does not preclude the establishment of a separate bilateral contract between the company and the student.
Master’s degree projects
Contrary to the internships, Master’s degree projects completed in a company are not framed(supervised) in a compulsory way by an agreement with the School. However, if either the company or the professor/Senior Scientist who is responsible for the Master’s degree project wishes to sign an agreement, there is a sample document available to the professor under www.epfl.ch/about/recruiting/teachers. Generally speaking, establishing an employment contract between the company and the student is incompatible with the academic framework of a Master’s degree project, in particular because of standard confidentiality clauses relating to the results of the project.
Registration on the academic platform
To ensure proper handling vis-a-vis the academic process, the student has to register the information concerning his/her internship or Master’s project on ISA (the School’s academic registry platform).
If the student found his/her internship from the list provided on ISA, s/he needs to update his/her initial registration by completing the required fields (exact dates of internship, contact details for the internship supervisor, etc.). It is important that this information be up to date, as they provide the basis for sending out the internship evaluation to the correct person.
If on the other hand, the student found an internship not listed on the ISA list, s/he has to register it on the platform. To avoid creating double entries, the student must make certain that the internship offer was not on the list prior to registering the internship.
Master’s degree projects
If this concerns a Master’s degree project in a company, the student must register it on the “Master’s Project” tab and not on the “Internships” tab even if the opportunity was found via the list of the internships on ISA.
Registration on Academic Registration Form (FRAC)
It is important that the status indicated in FRAC at the beginning of each semester is correct to ensure the effectiveness of the required administrative processes. Procedures may differ according to the type of internship or if the student remains registered for certain courses during his/her internship.
Confidentiality and intellectual property
While working for a company, the student must be committed to respecting the confidentiality of the information received within the company. The School’s internship and Master’s degree project agreements explain in detail the way that confidentiality must be managed and these templates should be considered as authoritative on the subject.
The student commits him/herself to not transmitting any proprietary data or information obtained during the internship to a third party without the previous consent of the company. This obligation also concerns the internship report for the departments which require one.
Use of the facilities, resources and data, software and other intangible assets of the EPFL during the internship is only allowed by written permission signed by the internship coordinator of his/her department. Except by specific agreement, the student also commits to transferring to the company all intellectual property rights for the results and/or inventions (patentable or not) of the internship, including the copyright on software created or amended by the student.
Master’s degree projects
The student cannot transmit to his/her professor any information considered confidential by the company except by written waiver from the company and the intern’s clear indication to the professor of the sensitive nature of this information. This is true for the information specified as confidential by the company in writing, but also for anything observed within the company which is not in the public domain.
The student cannot use the facilities, resources or data, software and other intangible assets of the EPFL without prior written permission from his/her professor (or Senior Scientist). Except by specific agreement, the student also commits to transferring to the company all intellectual property rights on all the results and any inventions (patentable or not) of the project, including the copyright on software authored or enhanced by the student.
With the exception of specific collaboration agreements between the School and the company, all results originating from the Master’s degree project which have not been patented by the company, can be freely used by the company, the student and by EPFL.
The Master’s degree project being an academic work, the thesis report cannot be confidential, with the exception of the parts containing proprietary information provided by the company.
The student has to contract personal health insurance for the duration of his/her studies, thus also during the internship period whether in Switzerland or abroad.
For internships outside of Switzerland, the student has to verify that the coverage provided by his/her insurance policy extends to the country in which the internship will take place. For certain countries (e.g. USA, Japan), it is recommended) to obtain additional insurance to meet certain potential medical expenses not insured by Swiss obligatory health insurance coverage (LAMAL).
The student has to verify whether s/he is covered for both occupational and non-professional accidents in Switzerland or abroad. If not, s/he is obliged to contract such an insurance before beginning the internship.
In addition, the student has to have an insurance policy covering civil liability from possible damages which he might cause during the internship. If applicable, s/he will also have to verify that the insurance certificate also covers the internship abroad.
Students leaving for an internship abroad have to make themselves known to EPFL’s Safety, Prevention and Health Domain (DSPS) via the site https://securite.epfl.ch/travel to benefit from the program of emergency assistance. This program provides additional support as needed, but does not replace the personal insurance policies as outlined above which the student must maintain for the duration of his/her internship.
It is the responsibility of any student who wishes to do an internship abroad to inform themselves about the necessary legal and health requirements of their destination, especially as concerns a visa or residence permit. S/he must take care of all administrative formalities required (visa, working authorization, vaccines, etc.). Generally, the host company, or a sponsoring agency (USA) provides assistance, but the responsibility for all of these requirements remains that of the student (and/or the employer), not the School.