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This year’s SEFI fellowship was awarded to two exceptional members of our community. One of them is Xavier Fouger from Dassault Systemes. Xavier is a true global leader for engineering education and he has contributed to bringing the engineering education societies together internationally and not least across the boundaries between academia and the private sector. He plays a remarkable and significant role in changing engineering education.
Xavier has traveled the world taking a leadership role and providing vision to engineering education in Brazil, the US, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Europe – and all the other places he has been. His key messages include:
- Engineering has to be understood as systems,
- engineering is collaborative,
- engineering is future
- and learning comes through visualization and work experiences.
There is a long-standing tension between practice and theory – between companies and academia. Companies do not only operate in the practice field –universities do not only operate in the theory field – but the mission and conditions are quite different. Sometimes universities forget that they actually educate for society and not for academia – and that companies are the most important societal player for engineering education. Companies and universities are bound together – both in terms of research and education.
However, boundaries also exist – some more institutionalized than others. In order to create coherence in society, we need boundary workers: integrators; translators; communicators.
Xavier Fouger is one of these – and he has a significant impact on development of engineering education – in Europe, in the US, in South America, and in India. He is a unique person who has developed the capacities of bridging cultures, understandings, private and public sectors and past, present and future. He is curious, empathic, foresighted – and he has an ability to bring people together with his enthusiasm and significant impact. He is bridging the gap between the different levels of organisations and he contributes to policy development in the area of STEM.
But how has this capacity been developed?
Xavier graduated as an industrial engineer, and he started his career in 1986 as Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Embassy in Austria. He spent several years developing new digital processes to enhance collective innovation in the automotive industry. In 1990, he started his career at Dassault Systemes as Sales Area
Manager – first in Germany then Europe. Xavier facilitated cooperation models with several car manufacturers in Germany, France and Korea. So he learned diplomacy and facilitation of collaboration among partners.
In 2003, Xavier Fouger created Dassault Systemes’ Academy, a corporate organization supporting skills in Product Lifecycle Management and in 3D design by means of global and local education and certification programs. This Academy became his base for reaching out to academia. The academy, now called “3DEXPERIENCE Edu”, promotes lifelong learning through a fast-growing network of 140 partners providing education services and thousands of academic institutions. He manages corporate research on virtual labs, teaching co-creation in product innovation, crowd-based curriculum creation, realistic use of 3D in MOOCs, “flipped lab” and virtualization of textbooks and learning devices.
In engineering education, his focus is on facilitating multidisciplinary learning, industry cooperation and international activities. Working with policymakers, he has developed educational programs at country scale, in support of national priorities, particularly in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
And then he has had the vision of creating organisations for engineering education – He is:
- founding member of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies.
- one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Global Engineering Deans Council.
- an active member in European Society for Engineering Education – SEFI. – first as bureau member, chair of the working group for corporate collaboration and vice-president.
- His international work also includes the promotion of Grand Challenges for Engineering in the global student’s community.
Xavier has already received acknowledgement for his international work. He is ASEE Fellow and has received the “Peter the Great” Medal by the Association for engineering Education of Russia.
In recognition of his success, his ideas, his informal leadership by connecting us, his vision, he received the award of SEFI Fellow from the hands of Anette Kolmos, former SEFI President, in the award ceremony on 14 September 2021.
The text is a shortened version of the laudation speech given by Anette Kolmos.