ENAC news about education

Articles about education

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.

© RebuiiLT / 2022 EPFL

rebuiLT, or how to rebuild a house sustainably

— The Low-Tech Lab in Lausanne has been part of the Unipoly association of EPFL since 2021 and aims to popularize the low-tech approach already found in several other European universities. Its showcase project rebuiLT is one of EFPL’s interdisciplinary MAKE projects and seeks to reuse parts of a building being demolished to create a community pavilion in Ecublens.

Clara Gualtieri. © 2022 EPFL/L.Hempel

Preventing heat islands is a priority for the future of our cities

— Two EPFL Master’s students carried out meticulous research on heat islands, or densely packed urban areas with features that can aggravate high temperatures during heat waves, posing a serious threat to vulnerable residents.

A l'EPFL, Selina Heiniger a étudié le génie civil. © Alain Herzog / EPFL

Turning plastic waste into building bricks

— MASTER'S PROJECT – For her Master’s project in civil engineering, Selina Heiniger took on a challenge that’s aligned with her desire to help preserve the environment. She’s developing a new building material that’s made from plastic waste, concrete and terracotta.

© 2022 EPFL

Architecture students rejuvenate two sites in the Greater Geneva area

— First-year EPFL architecture students are reshaping Geneva’s public spaces. All summer long, visitors can explore and interact with temporary installations at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum’s Jardin des Nations and along Avenue des Grandes-Communes in Onex, which has been transformed into a dynamic pedestrian-oriented area.

Dimitrios Lignos a reçu cette année le prix du meilleur enseignant de la Section de génie civil. © Alain Herzog/EPFL

“I try to turn my classes into interactive discussions”

— Dimitrios Lignos, head of EPFL’s Resilient Steel Structures Laboratory (RESSLab), has been named this year’s best teacher in the civil engineering section. He favors an interaction-based approach to teaching.

© 2021 EPFL

Kristin Schirmer is awarded ENAC students' prize

— At the EPFL’s “Magistrale” graduation ceremony this year, Kristin Schirmer was recognised for her teaching work at the institution. In this interview she explains what this work means to her.

© Murielle Gerber / 2021 EPFL

How can we make our housing less heteronormative?

— MASTER'S PROJECT – An EPFL architecture student’s radical new approach to the layout of typical city-center buildings in Lausanne, and how we inhabit the spaces we live in, may just revolutionize our ways of thinking.

In Kattmarka, buildings and a stretch of highway were washed away by the clay sludge. © NGI

Helping engineers better predict clay landslides

— Norway experiences dangerous landslides due to its clay-rich soil. For her Master’s thesis in civil engineering at EPFL, Mathilde Metral outlined steps that the country’s geotechnical engineers can take to improve the predictive computer model they’re currently developing. 

More articles about education

Video | Master projects


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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