After finishing my BS in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech I wanted to try out the professional world, so I started working right away. While I enjoyed my job thoroughly I knew I needed to get a higher degree to really pursue my passions. I wanted to go back to grad school but I needed a change of scenery as well. Having had a bit of study abroad experience in France I decided to look into some French grad schools as an option. I applied to a number of institutions here in France but in the end ENSAM was my choice. I am now in my second year of the international masters program for robotics and could not be happier.
The first year of the program consisted of a fall semester of intense coursework followed by six months of research. The coursework was a smattering of math and engineering classes designed to supply the prerequisite knowledge for the second year. In particular the math courses were quite a challenge for me but I am happy to have had them now. In the research portion of the year you have the option of working in either a university or industrial lab depending on what offers are available at the time. I found an interesting topic with a well-known French company, applied and spent the next six months working on a very cool mechatronics project. I finished just prior to the start of year two of the program, but not without a little vacation to the Côte d’Azure beforehand!
Now in my second year of the program I am really getting into some complex topics related to robotics. This year is a bit different from the first because the research aspect of the masters program highly intertwined with the course work. While the fall semester is loaded with interesting courses, each student also has their specific research topic to investigate in parallel. Currently I have about twenty hours of courses per week and the rest of the time I spend researching. Needless to say the masters program is a challenge but in the end it is a labor of love. After the winter holidays my research will become full time till the end of July at which point I am hoping to transition directly into PhD work.
Paris is a fascinating city, but it can be quite daunting for a newcomer – ENSAM really made the arrival and transition easy. They offer affordable living accommodations in their dormitory, which is only a short bus ride from campus. The dorm is located in large student living area called Cité-Universitaire so there is no shortage of “activities” for the socially inclined, and let’s not forget that you are in one of the coolest cities on the planet. On a more serious note, they offer some substantial scholarships for international students, which for myself was indispensable.
Coming to France and pursuing my master’s degree was one of the best but hardest decisions I have ever made. The program has had its ups and downs and like any self-respecting grad student I have done my fair share of complaining, but at the end of the day my only real regret is that I did not make my decision to come to ENSAM a year sooner.
Thank you Ryan for sharing your thoughts with AFAM! We are happy you are enjoying your time and look forward to hearing more about your career in the future!