ISAE-ENSMA’s history guarantees the scientific excellence of its training programs through sustained research activity. In line with regional and national policies, and aware of the particular social responsibility of engineering schools, ISAE-ENSMA focuses its research on the strategic challenges of the transport of the future and, more generally, the energy transition. All our research work contributes to deepening and enriching the training of our engineers. In consequence, ISAE-ENSMA has a dual mission of developing fundamental knowledge and transferring this knowledge to major French groups, via research contracts and via the training of engineers, masters and PhD students. Since 2018, ISAE-ENSMA has been listed in the Shanghai World Ranking, in the “Mechanical Engineering” category. In 2023, ISAE-ENSMA is ranked 151-200 with 5 other French institutions.
ISAE-ENSMA devotes half of its surface area (17,000 m²) and half of its net budget (8,2 M€ in 2022) to research laboratories in order to have numerous experimental benches, develop a digital policy tailored to the needs of researchers and accommodate 253 staff from the school, CNRS and the University of Poitiers. The school’s PROMETEE platform is equipped with heavy-duty research equipment, some of which is unique in Europe. Construction of the second phase of the “PROMETEE2” platform, financed by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, will see new facilities installed by 2024 for studies related to the hydrogen industry and aerospace propulsion. This platform, shared with the CNRS and the University of Poitiers, is at the heart of the Poitiers-Futuroscope Aeronautics and Transport Campus.
Programs of excellence
In terms of the major programs of excellence supported by the Plan d’Investissement d’Avenir (PIA), ISAE-ENSMA is associated with the LABEX Interactif (PIA 2012-19, €3.7m), led by the University of Poitiers in the fields of mechanics, materials and energy. This program has been extended for a further 5 years (2020-2024), and has served as the basis for the creation of the EUR InTree, which was awarded a grant under PIA 3 in 2020. This university research school, similar to the Anglo-Saxon Graduate Schools, is run by the University of Poitiers in partnership with ISAE-ENSMA. It offers training through research in the field of interfaces for aeronautics, energy and the environment.
It should also be noted that the €3.75 million “Groupe Aéro Propulseur” team, led by the school between 2013 and 2019, has led to the creation of 7 original large-scale test benches now located on the PROMETEE platform, and has enabled to structure long-term collaborations with SAFRAN and CNES.
Watch a video presentation of the Equipex GAP:
ISAE-ENSMA led the TRANSPORT Program of the CPER-FEDER 2015-2020 and is leading the AEROTRANS Program of the CPER-FEDER 2021-2027.
The school’s main partners are the R&D departments of major organizations or industrial groups such as SAFRAN (with whom a specific partnership agreement has existed since 2014), AIRBUS GROUP, CNES, CEA, Stellantis, CNES, CEA … These collaborations are especially part of ANR or Horizon Europe projects, some with the support of the “Fondation pour la Recherche en Aéronautique et Espace”. During the years 2018 – 2022, colleagues hosted at ISAE-ENSMA were winners of 6 European projects (total amount €1.9m); 19 ANR (€3.7m) including 5 ANR JCJC; 1 PEPR project (€595k) and 2 recovery plan projects. Over the same period, the cumulative value of industrial agreements – which can be of very different sizes and amounts – was €13.1 million. This last figure clearly demonstrates the company’s dynamic partnership approach.
A few emblematic initiatives stand out:
- The “Fluidics” OpenLab, launched in partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroën, the University of Poitiers and the CNRS, to develop innovation in the fields of aerodynamics, aeroacoustics and thermodynamics applied to ground transportation. Inaugurated in 2012, it was renewed in 2015 and on January 1, 2020 for a further 5 years.
- The FLECHE (Fluide, Chocs et Energétique) research laboratory, whose members are CEA, CNRS, ISAE-ENSMA and the University of Poitiers (agreement signed on October 1, 2019). It supports studies linked to the dynamic behavior of materials and specific aspects of fluid mechanics.
- The ALIENOR joint laboratory (Labcom ANR) associates LIAS and SRD, an electricity network operator in the Vienne Department. This program brings together all the skills of the laboratory and a local player to optimize network flows and operating performance. It has a budget of 350 k€ over 5 years, starting in 2020.
- The “PERGOLA” (Propulsion par Ergols Avancés) project, set up with CNES to create a test bench for new fuels for space engines (since 2014). It is vital to identify innovative propellants that present low risks for users and low environmental impact.
- The OPALE Chair, run jointly by the CEMEF at École des Mines Paris and the P’ Institute, in collaboration with the SAFRAN Group. Aimed at optimizing the properties of aeronautical metal alloys, it has been funded to the tune of €1.8m over 5 years (2015-2019). It has led to the creation in September 2019, for a 4-year period, of the OPALE joint laboratory associating SAFRAN, CEMEF and the P’ Institute.
- The TOPAZE Chair, which succeeds the OPALE Chair with the same players. Inaugurated in February 2020, it has been allocated €1.9m over 4 years. Its focus remains on materials used in new-generation engines.
The EMERAUDE Chair with SAFRAN Group, inaugurated in September 2023, focuses on the study of the relations between solidification / microstructure / mechanical and environmental durability of nickel-based superalloys for turbine blades. It aims to make a decisive contribution to the decarbonization of aviation, and to put France and SAFRAN at the forefront of new developments in turbojet and turbofan engines for civil and military aircraft and helicopters.
The SELF HEATING Chair, led by ENSTA in association with SAFRAN and NAVAL GROUP, aims to quickly predict and determine the polycyclic fatigue properties of materials by studying and modeling the thermal signature of damage mechanisms. Inaugurated in December 2020, €2.05 million has been allocated over 4 years.
Innovation and transfer
Research at ISAE-ENSMA is carried out in close partnership with industry in the aerospace, ground transportation and energy sectors. These sectors are also the main employers of the graduated students. To support this approach, we have set up a joint service, the Partnership & Technology Transfer Office (SPVR), within which ISAE-ENSMA, the University of Poitiers and the CNRS have pooled their skills. The SPVR is currently composed of 14 employees from the 3 establishments. The Office is responsible for drafting and negotiating research contracts between laboratories and their socio-economic partners. It is also involved in the appraisal and assessment of projects submitted to the ANR, the European Commission, or the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, and handles relations with development organizations (including CNRS innovation, a CNRS subsidiary). It is the business unit of the Agence Aliénor Transfert, created at the end of 2019 following the demise of SATT Grand-Centre. This Office pools academic transfer and incubation activities on the Poitiers and Limoges sites. ISAE-ENSMA is also a founding member of the Technopole Grand Poitiers, which supports the development of innovative companies (with an incubation component). The SPVR manages the nine active patents owned or co-owned by ISAE-ENSMA in the fields of materials, thermal science and aerodynamics.