ENSTA Bretagne : les collégiennes de l'opération Lcodent, Lcréent en juin 2019

Mathilde, dedicated "L codent L créent" volunteer and advanced modeling of structures and materials student

30 April 2020
From March to June 2019, Mathilde, engineering student in Advanced Modeling of Materials and Structures, together with her partner, taught programming to a small group of 14-15 year old schoolgirls at the PAC College at the Penn Ar C ‘hleuz College (Brest, France).
Class of 2021
"L codent L créent" volunteer

The female engineering students and role models of ENSTA Bretagne took part in the "L Codent L Créent" initiative, which aims to break down stereotypes surrounding computer science and encourage schoolgirls to specialize in this field. 

What motivated you to join the "L codent L créent" initiative?

Throughout my education, including in my preparatory classes and engineering school, I could see that women were under-represented in programming careers, and often, they required better results than their male counterparts. This male-dominated and misunderstood world can seem very unattractive for young girls. If I wanted to take part in this project from the very beginning, it was because my experience showed me that programming is a fascinating field, which is growing in importance, as the society that we are living in today is a digital one.

Could you describe what you did with the schoolgirls?

Through workshops, we chose to demonstrate in a light-hearted way that everyday activities could be linked to programming and that it was not just a very theoretical world as the schoolgirls might have imagined. Over 10 sessions, we got the girls to code a program using a Raspberry Pi2 card as a base. We supervised small groups of 15 schoolgirls who made digital works of art.

What will you remember from this experience?

The project enabled me to develop a certain number of qualities that I had never had the opportunity to try out. This was especially the case for teaching. It is not always easy to make the same information comprehensible for everybody. So, I adapted my speech and my explanations, using my imagination, so that every girl could understand the subject.

We came up against another problem. How should we supervise them, and what persona should we adopt as students teaching schoolgirls? Finally, we were able to create good relations with our students and could discuss quite freely with each other. Personally, this project enabled me to gain confidence in my skills and to feel useful as a student.

Sharing such an experience could be the opportunity for schoolgirls to turn towards a discipline that they would not necessarily be aware of, and some might change their future outlook. I hope with all my heart that this is the case, and that this project brings them something positive, more egalitarian, that enables them to flourish. 

What do you think of your engineer training?

When I joined ENSTA Bretagne, I decided to specialize in computer science, without being 100% sure about my choice. The first year, was quite general, which enabled me to discover other fields such as mechanics. The training in Advanced Mechanics of Materials and Structures or MAMS in French, is a cross-disciplinary subject, which enables you to work in many different sectors.

As I am very interested in research, this specialization, accompanied by a research master in the 3rd year, confirmed my choice of subject. The teachers who are always very attentive, helped me. They are always there to share their experience and those of the graduates, through lectures with themes such as the different careers possible in modeling.

What are your plans?

When things are a little better (Covid-19), I will do an internship in Germany in a research laboratory. As for associations, I am planning on continuing the "L Codent L Créent"  project, accompanying the new recruits and taking part in other initiatives to enable college and high school children to know more about engineering. More personally, I would like to join the “Blouses Roses” association which visits sick children in hospitals. 

What advice could you give candidates who are taking the competitive entrance examinations this year ?

Choosing a school can be a very stressful process but you have worked a lot to get this far. Have confidence in yourself, anything is possible when you stay positive and you believe it. Good luck to you! 😊