ENAC news about education

Articles about education

© 2024 EPFL - ENAC / NASA

A new Master's degree to meet the challenges of urban transition

— From the start of the 2025 academic year, a Master's degree in Urban Systems will enable ENAC students to become specialists in adapting cities and surrounding areas to climate change.

Schmale strives to give students the teaching they expect . © 2024 EPFL/E4S - CC-BY-SA 4.0

“The variety of backgrounds in my classroom is to everyone's benefit”

— Julia Schmale is just as comfortable in an EPFL lecture hall as on an icebreaker in the Arctic. This adventurous spirit – along with the specific know-how of her students – enhances her cutting-edge research.

Vincent Digneaux, Solène Guisan and Vincent Kastl: winners of the student architecture prize.© 2023 EPFL/Alain Herzog-CC BY-SA

“It's often better to choose simple solutions over complicated ones”

— Vincent Digneaux, Solène Guisan and Vincent Kastl were crowned winners of the Sustainable is Beautiful student architecture prize for their modular footbridge over the Chamberonne river. Designing the structure, which serves as both a crossing and a meeting place, gave them their first taste of life as an architect.

Hugo Nick in front of the Chillon viaduct in the canton of Vaud. © 2024 EPFL/Alain Herzog - CC-BY-SA 4.0

Testing automated crack-detection methods for concrete

— MASTER'S PROJECT – An EPFL Master’s student in civil engineering has evaluated the effectiveness of new computer-based methods for inspecting potentially dangerous cracks in concrete. 

Nicolas Bissardon and Agathe Crosnier, 2023 Durabilis Awards recipients © 2023 EPFL/Alain Herzog  - CC-BY-SA 4.0

“There's room in Swiss agriculture for greater biodiversity”

— This year’s UNIL-EPFL Durabilis Awards went to two Master’s projects addressing sustainability in the food industry. Both winners – Agathe Crosnier (EPFL – SSIE) and Nicolas Bissardon (UNIL) – came up with fresh ideas for producing and consuming food in a more environmentally responsible way.

Sarah Planchamp, diplômée en architecture devant le barrage de la Grande Dixence.© EPFL/Marie Geiser

What will the Grande Dixence region look like 200 years from now?

— MASTER'S PROJECT – An EPFL architecture student explored what the area around the Grande Dixence dam in Valais Canton might look like in 2223, drawing on scientific data to shed light on the long-term implications of environmental change.

Andreas Schüler with an infrared camera in his laboratory.© EPFL/Alain Herzog

Physics sheds light on the study of architecture

— Andreas Schüler, an expert in specialty materials for solar energy conversion, is this year’s winner of both the PolySphère award for best teacher at EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) and the PolySphère d’Or award for best teacher at EPFL. The awards are given out by EPFL students, who selected Schüler for his outstanding teaching in his Building Physics class. 

ALICE building site started in May 2023 at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum .©2023 EPFL/M.Geiser-CC-BY-SA 4.0

New, sustainable structures installed at three iconic sites in Geneva

— EPFL architecture students have designed lightweight structures made from recycled wood and earth for three public spaces in Geneva: Parc Rigot; the entrance to Parc des Feuillantines; and the gardens of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

Group work on the IDEAS Minor. Left to right: Sarah Planchamp, Loïc Fumeaux, Luana Ferrari, Sébastien Léveillé, Charlotte Jianoux and San Yun.© A.Goy/ENAC-EPFL

“The main benefit is that we all learned to speak the same language”

— The Integrated Design Architecture and Sustainability (IDEAS) program offers an interdisciplinary minor, PhD seminars and networking opportunities for PhD students from affiliated laboratories. Now, ten years on from its launch, we reflect on how this fast-growing initiative has evolved and hear from past participants.

Donato Kofel has completed his Master’s project in environmental sciences and engineering. © aAlain Herzog / 2023 EPFL

Trees are not always a miracle cure for improving air quality

— MASTER'S PROJECT – Donato Kofel has quantified the positive and negative effects of trees on outdoor air quality in Geneva Canton. His method can be used by city planners to design their large-scale planting programs more effectively.

Gaelle Abi Younes decided to focus on on-demand buses for her Master’s project © Marie Geiser/2023/EPFL

How to make an on-demand bus network viable

— MASTER'S PROJECT – For her EPFL Master’s project in civil engineering, Gaelle Abi Younes examined why on-demand buses have met with only limited success. She used technical and financial models to show how they could become a genuine alternative to cars in outlying areas.

© 2023 EPFL Alain Herzog

“The people were incredibly welcoming, but they're still rebuilding”

— Aline Bönzli and Caroline Heitmann headed to Croatia to help assess two buildings damaged by a devastating earthquake in December 2020.

Aurélio Muttoni © Murielle Gerber / 2023 EPFL

“My work outside the classroom increases my credibility"

— Aurelio Muttoni was recently named best teacher in the civil engineering section at EPFL for 2022. In reality, he has only one foot in the lecture hall: the other is in the field, as he’s also a partner in two engineering firms. In his view, this dual role bring benefits for both his students and his business associates.

© 2023 Alain Herzog

Does exoticism in music still exist?

— STUDENT PROJECT – For their project “The Armenian presence at the Montreux Jazz Festival – A study of the Tigran Hamasyan Quintet concert in 2014”, Léandre Guy and Basile Tornare explored what exoticism means in music and the limits of genres.

Camille Fauvel is lecturer at EPFL. © Alain Herzog / EPFL 2023

Temporary structures can help find lasting solutions

— In this column, published in three local dailies, Camille Fauvel explains how temporary structures can help us observe how people use public spaces. Fauvel, a lecturer in architecture at ENAC, cites a project carried out by EPFL students on Lake Geneva.

L'expédition Atlantea se déroulera à bord du voilier Carlina, fourni à Sailowtech par l'association Ocean Trotter. ©Ocean Trotter

Students want to invite the ocean on EPFL campus

— To build awareness about the importance of oceans, Sailowtech, a student association, has launched a project to develop low-tech methods for collecting data at sea. The methods will be tested during a sailing expedition around the North Atlantic Ocean. Various EPFL labs are also involved.

The book is published at EPFL Press. © EAST Lab / EPFL

Sleeping together: Examining dormitories as architectural types

— A recent publication explores the unique history of dormitories from the Middle Ages to present day. Drawing on a corpus spanning everything from submarines to mountain huts, the authors examine the fine balance between the need for privacy and the function of dormitories as collective spaces, and reflect on the implications for contemporary challenges.

From left to right: Loé Maire, Alexis Barrou, Julie Grieshaber, Jean-André Davy—Guidicelli, Sophie Desbiolles © Xavier Nussbaum 2022 EPFL

5 Master's theses awarded on adaptation to climate change

— The 2022 Durabilis prize list brings together individual works on different ways of dealing with global warming, from a technological point of view on the EPFL side and a cultural point of view on the UNIL side. Summary of their work and comments from the jury.

Olivier Lalancette has imagined the future of the former Lonza landfill site between Brig and Visp. © EPFL

Urban planning helps mitigate extreme weather effects in Haut-Valais

— MASTER'S PROJECT – Olivier Lalancette, an EPFL Master’s student in architecture, has come up with some development proposals for the Brig-Visp-Naters conurbation. His suggestions, relatively modest in scope, could help these cities better withstand the droughts and heavy rainfall that are expected to intensify by 2050. Lalancette hopes his study will start a conversation about the region’s future.

Morris made his own earth bricks as part of his Master’s project. © Alain Herzog / 2022 EPFL

More soil, less concrete: changing mindsets in construction

— MASTER'S PROJECT – For his master’s project, architecture student Jeremy Morris assessed the life cycle of building materials in Vaud Canton. His research shows that the construction industry could shrink its carbon footprint by making more regular use of soil. Morris proposes three courses of action, which he will present at the Quinzaine de l’Urbanisme.

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Student portraits

Raphaël Ahumada juggles architecture and rowing

The 21-year-old student, who’s on EPFL’s specialist track for elite athletes, splits his days between virtual classes, intensive training sessions and international races.

“Competing in ski mountaineering at the 2026 Olympics would be huge”

Matteo Favre, a Bachelor’s student in EPFL’s Section of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, is also a member of the Swiss ski mountaineering team. He’s landed several podium finishes this season, including in the men’s senior category.

“Being 18 in today’s world makes me hopeful”

Natacha Romanens is in the third year of her apprenticeship to become a physics laboratory assistant at EPFL’s Laboratory of Soil Mechanics (LMS).

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