#LoveMySafranJob: “I love working at the crossroads of science and industry”
At 28, Quentin is off to a very exciting career. Specialized in fluid mechanics, he is now studying turbulent combustion phenomena in aircraft engines at a prestigious American lab, as part of a post-doc funded by Safran Tech.
What sparked your interest in research, and especially in aerospace?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by energetics, the science that studies the properties of energy. I always wanted to feel like I was helping to solve the major challenges facing society. I chose aerospace because it’s a highly innovative sector, with exciting scientific challenges.
What’s your educational background?
After earning my baccalaureate, I studied mechanical engineering at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) engineering school in Rouen. I qualified for the Erasmus exchange program, going to Cranfield University in England, where I specialized in fluid mechanics – a key area of expertise for industry in general and especially for Safran. By predicting how fluids in motion – gases and liquids – will behave, we can improve engine operation and reduce their emissions. There are of course lesser-known but equally interesting applications, such as cooling systems for the sensors in night vision goggles and infrared imagers. In fact, that was the focus of my internship in the Sensors & Optronics department at Safran Electronics & Defense. Being involved in industry R&D made me want to continue working on the concrete applications of research, and particularly on subjects that were part of Safran’s core businesses.
What’s the relationship between Safran’s businesses and your specialty in turbulent combustion phenomena?
I did my doctoral thesis on combustion instabilities at the Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse (IMFT). My work focused on rocket engines, but aircraft engines are subject to similar phenomena, especially when you’re trying to reduce emissions by decreasing the amount of fuel burned in the combustor. By bringing these instabilities under control, we can reduce the air transport industry’s environmental footprint. After earning my PhD, I did a post-doc stint at CERFACS (Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée en Calcul Scientifique), a basic and applied research center in Toulouse, specialized in modeling and numerical simulation. I was in charge of adapting a numerical simulation code to meet industry requirements. Simply put, this is a code that allows us to limit turbulence calculations to large-scale phenomena, and then extrapolate results to smaller scales using a numerical model that recreates complex combustion phenomena. The part of the code I worked on is used by Safran to improve engine performance, as well as by several leading combustion research labs.
Safran Tech is now funding another post-doc, this time at one of the world’s leading turbulent combustion research centers. How did this opportunity come about?
I knew that Safran Tech was one of the partners in the Center for Turbulence Research (CTR) at Stanford, one of the most innovative labs in this field. This partnership gives Safran the benefit of advanced research directly applicable to its products, while also helping to train French researchers in targeted areas. I applied to Safran Tech for a post-doc at CTR, I was interviewed… and I was chosen! Working here is an extraordinary experience. Not only am I part of an internationally renowned research center, but I’m also learning about the American research culture, very different from the approach I’ve seen in Europe. It’s very educational, both professionally and personally. I’m free to choose my own research subjects, but obviously I focus on aeronautical applications for turbulent combustion, since that’s the most beneficial for Safran. I’m also in regular contact with my colleagues at Safran to keep them updated about my work. It’s a very constructive collaboration, since they give me great suggestions on my current projects.
Your post-doc will finish in September 2020, what do you have planned afterwards?
I’ll be doing another post-doc right away at CERFACS, with a continued focus on large-scale simulation in relation to Safran’s needs. And if the opportunity arises, I’m very open to a position within the Group. In any case, one thing is sure: my research work will continue to be applicable to aerospace.
2019 - 2020: post-doc – CTR at Stanford University, California, U.S.
2018: post-doc – CERFACS, Toulouse, France
2016: first publication in a scientific review, first presentations at seminars and conferences
2015 - 2018: PhD thesis – IMFT, France
2013: engineer internship – Safran Electronics & Defense
2013 - 2014: specialization in fluid mechanics – Cranfield University, U.K.
2009 - 2014: mechanical engineering degree – INSA, Rouen, France