On January 1 this year, Gérard Roucairol, the former Chief Scientist at the Bull Group, was elected President of the National Academy of Technologies for the 2013-2014 term. He has taken over from Bruno Revellin-Falcoz, who held the position for two years and who is now Honorary President and Academic Delegate for International Affairs. This was an opportunity for us to draw up a report with the civil engineer in aeronautics. Bruno Revellin-Falcozused to be the Technical Director General at Dassault Aviation where he was in charge of technical responsibilities for all the French plane manufacturer's aeronautic, civil, military and space programs and Director General Vice President of the company. Read on to gain deeper insight into the missions of the young National Academy of Technologies that now has a membership of 280.
Bruno Revellin-Falcoz, Honorary President and Delegate in charge of International Relations for the Academy of Technologies Crédits : Académie des Technologies
"There is a very strict selection process for membership to the Academy of Technologies," underscored Bruno Revellin-Falcoz, who explained that the first criterion is "not being an applicant." An initial group mainly comprising members of CADAS (Comité d'Application de l'Académie des Sciences, the Compliance Committee of the Academy of Science) initially launched the Academy in 2000. At the time, France was virtually the only European country that did not have this kind of Academy. This was especially unfortunate as technology, not to mention its uses, kept gaining ground. Over the years, an organization that was still a nonprofit association grew its reputation and proved its usefulness, explaining why it became a public corporation following an Act on Research, in 2007.
Fiercely Independent Research
Today the Academy of Technologies has a twofold mission as the intermediary between the different worlds of Research and Development, public decision makers and public opinion. "To fulfill its missions, our Academy has adopted a very interesting motto, 'for sustainable, chosen and shared progress," said the Honorary President of the public corporation. Its purpose is further the understanding and use of technologies. To do so, its current 280 full and emeritus (over 70 years old) members cover a very wide scientific and technological spectrum, i.e. researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, physicians, pharmacists, agricultural engineers, town planners, architects, lawyers, economists, philosophers of risk and sociologists. "This is the special feature of the Academy compared to older - French or European - academies," remarked Bruno Revellin-Falcoz.
Accordingly, the Academy of Technologies can address numerous issues, not only from a technical and technological standpoint, but also from a societal, environmental and economic outlook. The research is "fiercely independent", he insisted. Although the public corporation is under the authority of the Ministry for Higher Education and Research, it is not connected to any lobby even if a sizable number of its members come from large public and private industrial groups. This judicious mix of people from two different worlds (business and academia) clears the way for the National Academy of Technologies to address issues as well as engage in actions. "We are increasingly putting ourselves forward as experimentation catalysts. So, we monitor and check the development of the research we conduct or farm out," remarked Bruno Revellin-Falcoz,. This is also another very special feature compared to the National Academy of Technologies' European counterparts.
Relevant Research Relevant
During Bruno Revellin-Falcoz's term as President, the National Academy of Technologies focused on different topics whose variety well illustrates the scientific and technological spectrum covered by its members. The Academy worked on the decarbonized city, medical care at home, everyday chemical products, changes in a society faced with new technologies, certificates of experience and Regional policies for research, development, technology and innovations. "Knowing how to measure the virtues of work and creativity stemming from local initiative is critical," underscored the Honorary President of the Academy of Technologies, who pointed out that the research is a follow-up to an earlier mission conducted more than three years ago, jointly with the Council of Economic Analysis and DATAR. The mission published a report called 'Creativity and Innovations in the French Regions'. "A breath of fresh air, indeed," he recapped. In a word, the report writes that innovation comprises 20% of science and technology and 80% of human factors. Clearly, the Academy of Technologies does not practice double-talk and is not reluctant to 'upset' common beliefs.
A case in point: more than two years ago, jointly with the Academy of Science the public corporation published a report on metallurgy. The study demonstrated the importance of maintaining and developing a solid metallurgical industry, with a focus on its iron and steel branch because of it was highly strategic. "The study showed that the potential was still there and that France needed independent metallurgy, which clears the way for developing printed circuits and which is paramount for engine makers in the aeronautics industry. Not to mention that we still have training capabilities in this field," he said. Bruno Revellin-Falcoz also pointed out that the the most recent reactor tanks can no longer be cast in France as the only remaining smelter is in Japan. Clearly, the research at the National Academy of Technologies is often relevant to what is happening in France and abroad, especially as it belongs to the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE). It brings together the academies of 21 European countries. Last November it celebrated its twentieth anniversary in Paris at its annual Conference called Energy Independence for Europe, its General Secretariat is handled by the National Academy of Technologies.