Doing an internship with The SeaCleaners: The portrait of Baptiste, engineer
Each year, The SeaCleaners welcomes interns from all over the world to learn a profession and contribute to the association's missions, in five areas of expertise: engineering, operations, awareness, volunteer work and communication.
What do these young talents have in common? Passion.
We invite you to discover the career path of Baptiste, an engineer, former intern and new recruit to Manta Innovation, The SeaCleaners' design office.
What was your background before joining The SeaCleaners? What are the reasons that made you want to join The SeaCleaners for this internship?
After graduating from high school with honors, I joined ESTACA, a post-baccalaureate engineering school specializing in the transportation industry (automotive, aeronautics, space and rail). At the end of my second year, I joined the aeronautical field, thinking I would build flying machines for the rest of my life. But along the way, I started to become aware of the environmental cause, and in particular the plastic pollution in the oceans. Unfortunately, the naval branch did not yet exist at ESTACA. Luckily, the school allows and even encourages its students to launch student projects during their studies to develop their skills and their network. So I launched my own project, the Green Turtle project, which aims to build a robot-tortoise that collects waste in ports, at the end of my third year. As the project progressed, I had the opportunity to present it at forums, competitions, and trade shows, including Biomim Expo 2021, where I was able to meet members of The SeaCleaners NGO. Immediately, I saw in the flagship project of the association, the Manta, the “big brother” of Green Turtle! At that point in my career, I was in my last year of engineering school. So I sent an unsolicited application to do an internship in the design office… and I was accepted!
In which department do you work? What are your missions within The SeaCleaners?
I did my end-of-studies internship in The SeaCleaners’ design office, Manta Innovation. The subject of this internship was the integration, on board the Manta, of a hydrogeneration solution, one that produces electricity with the water current when the ship is sailing! So this is a mechanical engineering internship, which is totally in line with the training I received at school. But I was able to go further, in particular by carrying out hydrodynamic studies (editor’s note: studies of the flow of a fluid on a body). In fact, the part I designed to hold this hydrogenerator in the water is so massive that it influences, when deployed, the total drag of the ship!
What did you learn during your internship?
On a technical level, I was able to develop the skills I had learned in class, but also during school or association projects. It’s one thing to answer the questions of a theoretical exercise in mid-term, it’s another to design a six-meter long arm able to hold a machine of almost 2 tons, all in motion and in the water!
On a human level, I would say that it is above all the culture of the naval engineer, and of the sailor in general. The naval sector is full of terms to name the different parts of a ship, or even physical principles unique to the maritime domain. Sometimes, I would come across a term in English that I didn’t even know how to translate into French! Fortunately, I was able to benefit from the knowledge of my colleagues, who are all pedagogues as well as lovers of the sea.
Did your internship influence your studies or career in any way?
With this internship, I wanted to confirm my desire to reorient myself towards the naval sector, which is a booming sector, but also in the protection of the environment. Thanks to The SeaCleaners, I was able to combine skills (acquired during my training), passions (the sea), and values (saving the planet). So how could I not want to stay with the association and continue my work with them?
What advice would you give to students in your field for the preparation / choice of their internship?
Don’t wait for offers to apply! By approaching companies or associations spontaneously, you save yourself the trouble of having to compete with other candidates, but you also instantly prove your motivation! Furthermore, you should not hesitate to look at NGOs, because they can sometimes have research departments. For my part, ESTACA really gave me the culture of the associative world, where you work with passion to develop innovative solutions, sometimes a little crazy, but always useful. With The SeaCleaners, I found the perfect compromise between dream and reality, between the will to save the world (or at least to participate in it) and the ability to do it. Join this kind of organisation, express your ideas, and make them real!
Anything to add?
Some time ago, I had the chance to give a TEDx talk, which was about plastic pollution, and the importance of having ideas to fight it. I’m still convinced that this is the case: the state of our planet should be an inspiration to save it! Like any geek – sorry, engineer – I dream of seeing man travel to the stars; but before going there, we should think about giving back our beautiful little blue planet all its splendor. And engineers have their role to play in this!