Since 2012, some fifty students have participated in Mission InterÉTS and travelled to various countries where ÉTS has links with industries and universities. This year, the mission took place in China, so the 2017 student cohort got the chance to visit Shanghai, Xi’an and Beijing.
The first thing that impressed the students was the sheer scale of the country, which has seen strong growth for the past twenty years. Indeed, the smallest of the three cities visited had more than eight million inhabitants. All the universities visited had a campus outside the city. The Chinese education culture is very similar to that of English universities. Some universities offer French-Mandarin bilingual programs, in which French students already participate.
In business, many places have adopted the Silicon Valley model. It must be said that technology growth, coupled with the Chinese economic boom, leads to the creation of hundreds of companies that opt for the dynamics of open-plan offices and spaces without physical partitions.
The students noted the relationship between the population and public ownership. In Shanghai, a park is where the elderly practise tai chi, people jog and others spend their free time strolling. It is far from the North American model, where people seek isolation as much as possible in public areas.
Access to information is somewhat complicated. Despite its modern facade, this forward-looking society is still a totalitarian regime, where freedom of expression is denied. Students were informed by the Canadian Embassy in China that cell phone communications on the WeChat application (the equivalent of WhatsApp) had a very high probability of being intercepted and analyzed. In the subway, students had to have their bags X-rayed at every entrance.
These last few rigid aspects that characterize China are nevertheless compensated by its great vitality. We hope that all students have the opportunity to work in China, the Eldorado of the 21st century, where opportunities are plentiful and markets are booming.
What We Learned
To have had the opportunity of visiting the other side of the world and to become aware of the breadth of our global society was highly rewarding. Indeed, knowing that many consumer goods come from distant countries or that some societies operate differently is one thing, but living and observing it on the spot is something else altogether.
The mission offered by ÉTS is primarily intended to provide a first international experience, assuming that it will not be the last. Students from previous years agree unanimously that this goal was fully achieved.
Our society is working more than ever in a global reality, where projects are no longer confined by borders. Engineers who will be able to evolve in this reality will be versatile and visionary. What are you waiting for?