“I met young people who were full of life, motivated to learn new things, and had plenty of imagination. They could be future candidates for the Design Office,” said Raphaël Paquin, an Airbus Helicopters employee who volunteered his time teaching students at the Institut Louis Germain in August.
Established this spring, Airbus Helicopters’ partnership with the Institut allows motivated middle- and high-school students (aged 10-16) to attend extra learning sessions with willing teachers to bolster their education level. Classes in French, maths, and culture are held to coincide with school holidays.
The idea behind the Institut, founded by former auditor and accountant Julien Puel, was to organise a system which would address the educational needs of students from low income households, where the expectation of obtaining a four-year degree (Bac +5) is low. For his first group of teenagers, Puel went in search of top students from “educational priority” zones in and around Avignon. Convincing them to sacrifice their holiday time and attend 14 days of additional classwork through the summer was a risk. His persuasion worked, however; twenty-six teens arrived for the programme’s launch in March 2015.
This year, the programme culminated with a career day (rencontre des métiers) on 26 August featuring a representative from BNP and three Airbus Helicopters employees. 62 students from Marseille attended workshops on banking, investment, and aviation. These interactive sessions, comprising small groups of students and a volunteer, are an opportunity for the young people to see the world outside the classroom and learn an important lesson: that anything is possible.
“The students were polite, attentive and very interested in the subject. It was a real pleasure to share this moment and to interact with them,” said volunteer Chantal Cerret-Gil, who works in Airbus Helicopters’ engineering department.
To help explain what their jobs entail, Airbus Helicopters volunteers use games and role-playing with the teens. In one case, students took part in a simulated lunar mission which had aborted, with the goal to reach a base 300 km away using only 15 objects which had survived—an exercise in how to prioritise in an emergency. Such hand’s on teaching gives the students an understanding of where education can lead them in the real world. “They were extremely motivated young people who have, in my opinion, much more potential than society imagines,” said François-Xavier Filias, a manager in Airbus Helicopters’ Research and Innovation Programs. “They were interested by science and technology, and they had ideas that didn’t include the reservations we sometimes see among kids who don’t dare to ‘think outside of the box.’”
The future of this collaboration is just getting started. Airbus Helicopters has committed to providing support and a volunteer presence with the Institut for the next three years. Let the next generation be inspired.
The Institut Louis Germain
Date of creation: October 2014
Sites: Avignon and Marseille
Participating students in 2016: 250
Middle- and high-schools represented: 20
A typical campus: 22 to 26 August; classes from 9:30 to 5:00pm
Class size limited to 15 students per instructor