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Meet Myriam, Professor at Polytechnique Montréal, on assignment with Safran Tech

Human resources

Myriam Brochu, Associate Professor from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal (Canada), spent 8 months in Safran Tech’s Materials & Processes (M&P) research group at Paris-Saclay for her renewal year*. Now back home in Canada, Myriam recounts her experience with Safran.

3D loom : carbon fiber

What position do you hold at Polytechnique Montréal?

I’m Associate Professor and head of the Mechanical Engineering department’s manufacturing section, where I teach theory and practice to engineering students. Hands-on teaching takes place in laboratories, including research labs, since we also undertake R&T projects with doctoral students.

Why did you choose Safran for your renewal year?

Before moving into academia, I worked for ten years in industry, so for me it was quite natural to seek ‘renewal’ there. I spent four months with the Japanese space agency JAXA in Tokyo before coming to Safran Tech in November 2018.

I heard about Safran Tech through a former researcher in the Materials & Processes (M&P) research group, whom I’d worked with in the past. We were keen to work together again, on the same project and in the same research office. Although that didn’t happen, because she took up a new position, Safran still liked the idea of having a visiting professor from Polytechnique in its M&P research group, which was something it had been looking to do for several years.

What was your assignment in the M&P research group?

I specialize in metallurgy and my research is focused on metal fatigue*. In the M&P department, I worked on a project dealing with gear contact fatigue.

We worked with the IRT-M2P Materials, Metallurgy and Processes Technology Research Institute to develop surface treatments for ferrous alloys. The aim is to modify part surfaces to increase their contact fatigue strength, particularly their ability to withstand damage by microflaking and flaking. Once fatigue strength tests have been completed at Safran Aircraft Engines’ Villaroche facility, our job at M&P is to finely characterize parts and identify the smallest signs of damage (cracks, microstructural alterations, etc.).

What benefits did you gain from this experience?

Above all, I discovered contact fatigue, which was new to me as I’d only ever studied ‘ordinary’ fatigue, so I gained additional expertise. As I was on a renewal year, I took time to read up more about this area of research and I learned about other characterization methods compared to what we use at Polytechnique.

Having access to the company’s equipment was very beneficial for my research. I also learned to work with new and modern equipment different to what I’m used to.

Lastly, I drew great inspiration from the Health, Security and Environment (HSE) strategies and team organization. So I’m taking back lots of ideas that I hope to put in practice in my laboratories at Polytechnique Montréal.

A final word?

I’d like to thank the M&P research for hosting me and offering a great experience!


* Renewal year: Associate Professors at Polytechnique Montréal are encouraged to go on a renewal year every seven years, ideally abroad. The aim is to develop new collaborations or strengthen existing ties with other universities or private companies.
* Contact fatigue: Growth of cracks in certain materials as a result of cyclic loads over long periods.