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Developing French/Indian academic cooperation

News International-French

19 Apr 2011

Throughout its scientific and industrial history, France has always placed a high priority on engineering education, as substantiated by a long tradition of excellence within the Grandes Ecoles. The GEM network (Groupe des Ecoles des Mines) is certainly a prime example of the French system, which has earned an international reputation. With more than 250 partnerships with universities all over the world, the GEM is also a very active educational partner in India.

(Published on September 2008 – JEC Magazine #43)






Designed to educate top-level engineers, the GEM network brings together seven prestigious French engineering colleges. These teach a comprehensive range of science and technology subjects that address the industry’s requirements, to a total of some 7,000 students, including 20% from abroad. Of the 2,200 graduates per year, 250 are PhDs. The GEM network is also an outstanding research centre comprising 43 research labs and more than 1,000 faculty members. It generates more than 15% of the total turnover derived from research contracts signed with the industrial sector in France.


Educational and R&D cooperation in India

The GEM network has already signed institutional agreements with some of the most prestigious Indian institutions offering outstanding academic and research excellence. The agreements facilitate both student exchanges and the mobility of teaching staff on both sides. A notable one is with the Indian Institutes of Technology New Delhi, Kanpur, and Roorkee. Other GEM partners are the University of Pune, the Vishwakarma Institute of Technology (VIT), and the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT). Among other things, these educational partnerships give Indian Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) students a chance to earn a French engineering degree (Master’s level) through a two-year study programme in one of the seven Ecoles des Mines. Several other cooperation schemes have been established in the field of R&D for industrial applications. In the field of composite materials, for example, the Department of Polymers and Composites Technology & Mechanical Engineering at the Ecole des Mines de Douai (EMD) and the Indian Institute of Technology of Delhi have undertaken two joint activities.


Department of Polymers and Composites Technology & Mechanical Engineering, Ecole des Mines de Douai
This 70-member department was founded 25 years ago at the request of the French plastics and composites processing industry. Its activities cover education and training, and both fundamental and industry-driven research. The department offers services in two main areas: processing technologies for plastics and composite materials and industrial parts, and structural mechanics. The research facilities comprise 5,000 m2 of workshops and laboratories, including:
  • a processing workshop with industrial manufacturing machines for plastic and composite parts (injection moulding, extrusion, (co-)extrusion blowing, rotational moulding, thermoforming, filament winding, automated fibre placement, RTM and infusion, compression, and more);
  • a full-scale characterization workshop for industrial parts (including highpressure vessels) subject to long- or short-term mechanical static and/or dynamic loading in controlled environments (temperature, relative humidity, etc.);
  • a materials characterization lab equipped with devices for thermo-mechanical, rheological, physical, thermal, structural (microscopy, etc.), dimensional (3D, contactless, etc.), non-destructive (ultrasound, acoustic emission, infrared) evaluations;
  • a computing lab using simulation codes covering different scientific fields (rheology, mechanics, heat transfer).


Joint French-Indian GEM-IITD seminar, September 24-26, 2008, New Delhi, India
The goal of this workshop is to identify any converging interests and complementary skills so as to establish further cooperation between GEM and IITD in the fields of materials science and environmental engineering. This type of cooperation would aim at sharing human resources (exchange of PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, professors) and facilities within the framework of joint research projects. The workshop will be held over a period of three days, with two days devoted to the presentation of each institute’s research work and one day for exchanges/meetings between researchers.



Centre for Industrial Tribology, Machine Dynamics & Maintenance Engineering (ITMMEC) and Centre for Polymer Science & Engineering (CPSE), Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India
ITMMEC bridges the gap between IIT and industry in the fields of friction and wear studies, lubrication and lubricants, non-destructive testing, reliability, failure analysis, and vibration and noise engineering. It offers modern facilities with a six-member staff for experimental, analytical and developmental research activities. CPSE is one of the foremost in India in terms of expertise and facilities for fundamental research and teaching in the emerging area of polymers and other related interdisciplinary areas. The Centre’s main focus areas are manpower development and research for enhancing fundamental knowledge and developing new polymer materials. CPSE’s research activities and six-member staff cover polymer synthesis, physical characterisation, processing and thermo-mechanical testing. and


The first one involves Professor Jayashree Bijwe from IIT Delhi’s Centre for Industrial Tribology, Machine Dynamics & Maintenance Engineering, and EMD’s Assistant Professor Stéphane Panier in the co-supervision of PhD research on the fatigue and wear mechanisms of fabricreinforced composites. The goal is to establish a correlation between the fatigue strength and wear resistance of customformulated high-performance composite materials developed and manufactured at IIT Delhi. Professor Bijwe points out some key scientific and technical issues: “At present, we don’t have the necessary facilities to test the fatigue strength of bidirectionally reinforced composites in IIT Delhi and the nearby institutes. We need expertise for modelling and correlating wear performance with fatigue strength, and such an expertise is not available within the group that works on polymer tribology at ITMMEC. This is important because, although the selected sliding conditions are conducive for adhesive or fretting wear of composites, fatigue wear definitely takes place simultaneously if the component is slid for long time. Since fatigue strength correlates with fatigue wear, this can be incorporated in the wear equation to get a realistic representation of total wear”. The fatigue tests will be performed at EMD and the wear investigations at IIT Delhi.


According to S. Panier, such cooperation stems from the fact that “tribology is a multi-physical science requiring in-depth knowledge of various domains. Similarly, composite damage is complex to study. The ultimate failure of composite materials results from interactions between different types of damage occurring at different scales (micro to macro), hence the necessity to bring together the skills of our two institutes”. The second activity involves Professor Bijwe and Professor Anup K. Ghosh from IIT Delhi’s Centre for Polymer Science & Engineering, working with EMD’s Assistant Professor J. Soulestin and Professor Marie-France Lacrampe in a cooperation scheme that is part of a Master’s student’s project on thermoplastic nanocomposites. The research work is divided between India and France.


Exchange programmes

In keeping with the above-mentioned activities, upcoming goals are to increase both the number of joint R&D projects and their scope, and to involve French and Indian industrial partners. A French-Indian GEM-IITD seminar will be organised in New Delhi on September 24-26, 2008 for this purpose.