Soft skills at the heart of EPF's education program
Beyond the scientific and technical skills that are acquired during their studies, it is essential for EPF's engineers to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to evolve in the professional world. Thus, cross-curricular elective courses such as theater, leadership or audiovisual media are offered to students in their third year in order to develop these soft skills.
Speech development and imagination, key facets in the engineering profession
Marie-Hélène Cosse, professor in communication and actress teaches theater at EPF as part of the cross-curricular elective courses that students follow in their 3rd year of studies. This course allows EPF students to develop soft skills and open themselves to subjects other than science. For Marie-Hélène Cosse, communication is an extension of theater classes. She believes that speech and imagination are important in the engineering profession. In her classes, students explore vocal and bodily capacities, verbal and nonverbal language, creativity and imagination, but also daring to show themselves to others at the best of their abilities. This course aims to show students that certain parameters found in the theater field are also involved in the field of engineering. Being able to express ideas clearly and present them are essential skills in the engineering profession, and that theater can help develop.
The cross-curricular elective course of Marie-Hélène Cosse was built on two main axes: an individual work axis and a collective work axis. Through this course, students are able to develop skills such as: understanding the importance of verbal and nonverbal language, active listening, being able to formulate arguments, to improvise a speech and being a proactive force.
"In short, EPF develops human skills"
Diane BIO FARINA 3rd year student declares: "Thanks to this course, we have been able to work on our public speaking skills, develop a set of skills on how to react to a given situation, to be attentive to others and we have also learned how to introduce an idea and receive those of others".
Matthieu JUDAS Student in 3rd year adds: "We learn how to feel comfortable and not being ashamed in any kind of situation. We also explore improvisation, which is interesting and can be useful in a professional environment. In short, we develop human skills. Yesterday I had to learn a monologue and it had been a long time since I had done something like that; it changes from equations, maths and physics.".
Guillaume PIQUET Student in 3rd year adds: "Through this course, we learn how to introduce ourselves, not to be anxious and to put aside any sort of embarrassment. In this course, our effrots are mostly concentrated on the memory, the oral expression as well as group work".
Strengthen your leadership: learn to dare!
Cécile Bourbon, consultant in communication and orientation and member of the board of directors of the "Girls on the move association", has set up a workshop "Strengthening your leadership: learning to dare!"; First opening course of its kind! The aim of this course is to give the students an overview of the current situation in terms of professional equality, and to allow students, both women and men, to become aware of the inequalities that still persist in today's society and see the levers for action possible. Cécile Bourbon explains that: "often some women do not dare to go to managerial positions. This course aims to strengthen young women’s confidence. By doing so, they contribute to the progress with regard to equality". Through this course, students can hope to develop their leadership from a personal point of view and get the tools necessary to learn how to cultivate this leadership through different personal development techniques. Students are offered techniques inspired by non-violent communication, where they learn to formulate a request, listen to their needs, dare to assert themselves, value themselves, gain in legitimacy or cultivate benevolence.
The importance of valuing soft skills among young people
The students appreciated greatly being aware of a situation that they could all be confronted with and to which they now understand more about. One of the students said: "We understand much better the importance of knowing how to value our actions as well as our knowledge". Another student added, "We now understand that there are ways to ask something that can be more persuasive than others. Moreover, we are more aware of the importance of oral presentation and body language, especially in a professional context and it is possible to value ourselves without necessarily bragging".
Antoine Bayard, a 3rd year student, adds: "I appreciated learning about what is called the intelligent discussion as well as the approach to take to enhance self-esteem. This course has allowed me especially to become more aware of the stereotypes that persist in our society and the way they are represented in our daily life without necessarily being conscious of it".
It is essential for EPF’s future graduates to develop the human qualities and interpersonal skills that go beyond academic excellence and technical performance in order for them to develop an awareness of the societal challenges of the world in which they operate.