No, I’m not a superhero

No, I'm not a superhero

5 February 2020
collaboration Engineer superhero
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For ordinary people, when we talk about engineers, is the image of Steve Job, inventor of the first Macintosh and founder of a now trillionaire company, or Elon Musk, imagining alone the car new generation (Tesla), life on Mars (SpaceX), and the supersonic train (Hyperloop).

But far from the image of mad scientist, expert genius in everything, the engineer is above all a social animal. It is by relying on the expertise of their colleagues and combining their strengths that the engineers manage to carry out projects that challenge the understanding. So, one for all and all for engineering?

Engineering or the art of combining different skills

Frédéric Chéneau is responsible for the international development of Assystem. Throughout his career and with seven years spent abroad, he has developed a sharp expertise in the nuclear sector. The ability to solicit the right interlocutors within the company is, according to him, an invaluable quality to address new markets. “In a field as sensitive as nuclear, close internal collaboration is essential to understand the customer’s expectations and respond to them.” One of his current missions: to sell in Turkey services previously carried out in the United Arab Emirates for a project financed by Russia. A good example of international teamwork.

Another example of successful internal cooperation was the characterization mission they won in Saudi Arabia. This mission consisted of evaluating different locations likely to host a nuclear power plant in terms of seismic, oceanographic, and meteorological risks. In a country like Saudi Arabia, desert, subject to frequent sandstorms, and surrounded by hot seas, the technical challenge is daunting. “The technical legitimacy of our Turkish teams, combined with our presence in Saudi Arabia and the reputation of Assystem in the field of nuclear engineering allowed us to win the contract,” says Frédéric Cheneau. A success that could not have happened without the pooling of resources and skills at the international level.

For Frédéric Chéneau, “you can not work in engineering in an international group with a development like ours other than in a team. It’s even the good side of our job, we enjoy working together. ” Team spirit goes far beyond engineering teams: legal services, finance, planning, quality control, nuclear safety, project financing, digitalisation … all professions are involved. “Playing as a team is part of our corporate values. We share the same DNA, the same desire to win and deliver the projects” explains Frédéric Chéneau. “Finally, Leonardo da Vinci was perhaps the last genius to hold all the knowledge. Today, engineering projects need to combine the expertise and know-how of different people. ”

Technology at the service of collaboration

Sylvain Riss was responsible for the integration of BIM into the Société du Grand Paris, Project Owner of the Grand Paris Express Project. It is an information modeling technology of infrastructure works, associated with processes, allowing the sharing of information throughout the phases of design, construction and use. In this context, Sylvain and his team have trained and support the rise in skills of the entire SGP project management (some 200 people), in order to implement BIM management in the construction of metro lines of the Grand Paris Express.

With 4 new metro lines including 90% underground, 68 new stations, some 15 TBMs by the end of 2019 and a total budget of 38 thousand euros, the Grand Paris Express is a project without common measure, the first of its kind in Europe . Outside of traditional practices, this one raises many questions for the different actors. In this context, the integration of a single digital model makes it possible to centralize all the information for the various trades, and forces collaboration between the disciplines. “If we do not know how to solve a problem alone, we discuss it to solve it together, to build solutions adapted to the context and people,” explains Sylvain Riss. Because it is the management of the most complex human in this kind of major projects. “As projects are becoming more complex, the interfaces to be managed more numerous, dialogue becomes essential. Listening, caring and open-mindedness are now as important as the technical expertise or the analytical capacity of engineers. ”

For Sylvain, “with digital, the evolution of the business is accelerating. The engineer must be very curious to adapt to changing environments, and reinvent the way to collaborate with each other.” BIM is one of the first stones of this digital transformation in construction.

“Ten brains are much smarter than one”

For Will Newsom, senior engineering manager at Assystem UK, the engineer is a large-scale problem solver. “When you reduce the engineering function to its essence, it’s nothing more than problem-solving. But the uniqueness of these issues makes the job interesting. The more complex the subject, the more exciting it is. This is the very object of his work: to develop innovative technologies from industry 4.0 and to apply them to the nuclear industry. They can be used to administer the management of resources for instance or to inspect remote nuclear facilities through machine vision. These innovations help to accelerate operations and reduce risks for plant employees.

Will Newsom is convinced that if Assystem has succeeded in establishing its position as a trusted advisor to market players, it is thanks to its expertise in the field of engineering and the ability of its teams to understand the needs and expectations of their clients. His team is composed of design engineers, technical experts and project managers, not to mention his colleagues in electrical, mechanical or other engineering fields, whom Will can solicit when needed. “Our team is in constant interaction with our customers. Communicating, both internally and externally, is crucial for the good of the projects. ”

If the collaboration works so well between the members of his team, it is because Will Newsom has given particular importance to the integration capacity of the different members during their recruitment. “The success is that of the team”. And its works. During a recent project to assess the performance of cameras for EDF, two of his colleagues found a solution to solve two consecutive problems. For Will Newsom, “without my colleagues solving these two consecutive problems, the test would have been aborted. Quick thinking on their part made this a success.” As part of a project to analyze the packaging of nuclear waste, we have appealed to many employees internally but also to our customers. This allowed us to share individual experiences, to gather the opinions of everyone, and to develop an incredible project, integrating a large number of technologies”.


Finally, Frédéric Cheneau, Sylvain Riss, Will Newsom, and their teams perfectly embody this quote from Charles Darwin: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

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Frédéric Cheneau

Business Development Director Assystem

Sylvain Riss

External Contributor

Will Newsom

Engineering Manager Assystem

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