Tales of Women Engineers: Innovation as a Leitmotif

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Automated underground train: the urban transport revolution is underway

Lucia, ALTEN Project Manager Assistant for RATP

Lucia, ALTEN Project Manager Assistant for RATP

“If I had one hour to solve a problem upon which my life depended, I would spend 40 minutes analysing it, 15 minutes critically reviewing it and 5 minutes solving it”.

Lucia likes to describe herself as an engineer through this very structured thought process.

With 10 years of experience at ALTEN, between internal projects conducted within the Group’s Structured Projects Department and external projects serving customer issues, this experienced consultant who wants to “bring her touch to science and technology” looks back on her career, guided by innovation in the service of others.

Lucia completed her engineering studies in Romania and France with a general education, specialising in electronics and telecommunications, multimedia/software development and a Masters in image processing.

All these skills helped her to carve out an evolving professional path, working in various sectors as diverse as the automotive, biomedical and now railway industries.

These steps provide a valuable learning experience: “I feel at home when I am involved in innovative projects that are as important to me as they are to me”.

“Innovation is seen at every stage and serves a public utility objective

Lucia

Automating several metro lines simultaneously

“I am currently working as an Assistant Project Manager on several innovative projects, all of which aim to automate metro lines in order to improve the quality of service for passengers. More specifically, I am carrying out the technological migration of a centralised command and control station for new generation automatic lines. The idea is to create a huge wall of images through which all the stations on a metro line are monitored to ensure that they are working properly”, explains Lucia.

This challenge is all the more exciting because it is accompanied by the management of other related projects : “The fact that we are working on the automation of several lines at the same time, which are not all at the same level of progress, means that there is no typical day. Together with the project managers, prime contractors and agents, I go out into the field to make sure that what is planned in meetings corresponds to what is actually deployed. I also carry out project management, monitoring the progress of the automation of each line and the delivery of the associated deliverables by the teams concerned… A working method that allows me to learn new things day after day.”

User satisfaction, proof of successful innovation

This public transport revolution that is taking place under our feet is “the very example of a successful innovation project”, says Lucia.

“Innovation is seen at every stage and serves a public utility objective: to make the experience of millions of daily travellers more agile in a constrained and complex environment. Improving passenger information to enable them to optimise their journeys, facilitating the work of operators thanks to cutting-edge technologies that enable them to supervise all traffic at a glance and ensure smooth operations at the click of a button… This is what innovation for the benefit of others is all about.”

Lucia has already set her sights on other projects, such as the renovation of a metro station for the Olympic Games, or the development of a new generation of mammography machines.

“One project that was particularly close to my heart… I especially remember the day I went to the hospital to talk to patients who had tested this technology to get their opinions. A process that allowed me to see that our efforts had enabled them to reduce their pain and stress during this already anxiety-provoking examination: management of the pressure of the breast compression by the patient herself using a button, a carbon support device so as not to give her cold… I enjoy contributing to science and the development of new technologies, but I enjoy receiving feedback from patients, and users even more.”

Lucia is so enthusiastic about this that she would like to be able to contribute to the development of life-saving medical equipment one day, as “the recognition of patients is worth all the gold in the world”.

“I like not only to learn but also to pass on what I have learned. Especially with regard to Project Management”

Lucia

Continuous improvement: a matter of routine!

There is nothing like being a consulting engineer to never stop learning! “The engineer’s job is to find the best solution to a given problem. To develop this capacity, experience is the key: it allows us to confront all kinds of situations and gradually move naturally towards the solution that is perfectly adapted to the context, as if it had become an automatism. And consulting projects push us to develop this automatism”, says Lucia.

Each time she changes project or even sector of activity, she has taken another step on her learning path, each step serving her quest for professional and personal evolution.

Learning is sharing!” says Lucia. “I like not only to learn but also to pass on what I have learned. Especially with regard to Project Management : I have taken training courses in this area, the international PMP (Project Management Professional) certification and I am very interested in collaborative tools which are a great source of productivity for teams, especially when they have to work remotely. All these possibilities that are available to us to collaborate better, to achieve our objectives in time and to be more efficient are part of a logic of collective and continuous improvement that we must cultivate.

That’s why I’m going to become a trainer at ALTEN’s internal university: training other consultants in these practices is a guarantee of a common dynamic for increasingly agile and structured projects.”

Friendly advice

from Lucia

“Don’t be demoralised by failure when trying to solve a given problem! There are a whole host of solutions and the most suitable one is found through perseverance, inventiveness and patience.”

Rapid fire question:

Sleeping or taking the subway?

“Bicycle! On a personal level, I like action-oriented activities, sport, nature… Cycling is a way for me to cover all these dimensions.

For me, the bicycle is also a metaphor for a forward movement, without being able to go backwards, which corresponds to my philosophy of life, as written by Paulo Coelho: “No one can go backwards but everyone can go forwards”. A way of saying that we cannot change the past but rather be actors of our future!