"In my future career, I want to tackle climate challenges." Hortense, first-year student in the Energy Master's program at PSL


Hortense L'Hostis is passionate about chemistry and keen to make an impact on the issue of climate change. She joined PSL's Master's degree in Energy program in September and immediately threw herself enthusiastically into creating a student community across EELISA, the European university alliance to which PSL belongs. Together with students from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées (ENPC), she will contribute to the development of a network of future European engineers in order to develop new approaches and solutions for the energy transition.

As a student at an international high school in Belgium, Hortense was made aware of climate issues at a very young age and decided to devote her studies and future career to the field. After her baccalaureate, she was interested in studying biology, but then opted for a degree in chemistry at the University of Bath and became passionate about this new subject:

"Discovering chemistry gave me another approach to the world. Understanding the mechanisms at play helps to explain the structure and functioning of the things and beings around us. The University of Bath is one of the leading universities in England in the field of green chemistry. Far from the negative preconceptions about chemistry as a "source of pollution", I was able to grasp the main principles of recycling, resource reuse and then energy optimization. This opened up new horizons for me.”

Her degree included a one-year internship in a research and development team specializing in the development of sweet flavors. The team was quite small but is part of a large company where various R&D laboratories are located. It was an exciting first taste of the professional world. It gave her the opportunity to understand the different facets of how the sector works and above all to follow the product from the design phase through to marketing. At the end of this internship, she realized that to be able to really influence and act on climate change at her level, she needed to specialize further. After graduating with honors from the Integrated Master’s in Chemistry in Bath, she decided to continue her studies and opted for the Master’s degree in Energy at PSL.

"I hadn’t yet decided between becoming a consultant or starting research on sustainable development. The Master’s degree in Energy was the only one to offer both a scientific and a socio-economic approach and thus open up a multidisciplinary perspective in this field, which was exactly what I was looking for. The program also complements my initial training really well. It allows me to deepen my knowledge in math and to acquire a solid foundation in engineering.”

The Master’s degree in Energy is proposed by the three PSL engineering schools (MINES Paris - PSL, Chimie Paris - PSL, ESPCI Paris - PSL) with a common objective: to train students in the various fields of transformation of the energy sector. Master's students can also enjoy events, trips and double degrees to be offered by EELISA (the European Engineering Learning Innovation & Science Alliance), to which PSL belongs, to enrich their learning. At the beginning of the school year in September 2021, master's students were invited to participate in the 65th congress of the Federation of Franco-German Associations (FAFA) organized in October in Saint-Brieuc on the following theme: Energy Transition: Towards Carbon Neutrality in 2050. Along with nine other classmates, Hortense jumped at the chance.

"I saw it as an opportunity to participate in a European event and to meet new people, and it was exactly that. There were about twenty of us: ten from the Master’s degree in Energy program, one student from Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées and ten students from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. These last students included Master, Bachelor and doctoral students. We all shared an interest in finding sustainable and 'implementable' energy solutions in today's society. We each made presentations on our topics and decided to work together on fusion and the smart grid. These are two very different subjects, but related to the same field. Together, they provide an overview of the range of innovations that will make a difference in the years to come. Our discussions were varied and really enriching.”

Les étudiants de PSL, FAU et ENPC lors du 65e Congrès de la FAFA, 14 octobre 2021, Saint-Brieuc

This event provided an opportunity to imagine the creation of a new EELISA community: The EELISA Community for Energy Transition and International Exchange. Its mission will be to bring together students from European universities (France and Germany initially) who have an engineering background or other training related to energy technologies.

"I am very excited about this project and am delighted to build on the momentum of the Saint-Brieuc Congress. This community will enable us to continue our research and to identify opportunities to share and discuss our work. It is clear to all of us that there is no single solution and that we will not solve the energy transition problem alone. But we can collectively contribute to finding solutions. More concretely, it is about building a network of students, organizing study trips, participating in scientific conferences and visiting innovative companies.”

The community is still in its infancy, but it addresses issues common to the new generation of students who, like Hortense, want to take action and share their knowledge with as many people as possible in facing the challenges of the future.

"I want to get involved in explaining the climate emergency and sharing my knowledge. Studies show that among the characteristic traits of humans are optimism and an inability to understand the exponential. The parallel between this and the lack of understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis makes sense. The urgency of either situation is difficult for society to accept. It is important that society debates, but the debate must not overshadow the urgency. I hope that our EELISA community will help to support these messages, and I will do my best to promote them in my individual actions.”

In the Master’s degree in Energy program, Hortense will be able to further develop her professional project and enhance her commitment. Whether she goes into research or consulting, one thing is certain, she will make an impact!

The European University Alliance EELISA

Alliance of 9 European institutions in 7 countries whose objective is to rethink engineering education in Europe: interdisciplinary, multilingual and adapted to the major challenges of the 21st century. Through this objective, EELISA will shape a new generation of engineers capable of combining technological excellence with a response to the needs of society, while concentrating on sustainable development.


The 65th Congress of the Federation of Franco-German Associations (FAFA)

Students from PSL, FAU and ENPC brought together on the occasion of the 65th Franco-German Congress of the FAFA, financed by the OFAJ.