Guillaume Pakula, founder of Project Celsius and former student of the school."

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Guillaume Pakula, the ’Founder’ of Projet Celsius, a scientific and educational consulting firm specializing in environmental issues, graduated from ESPCI in 2016. In January 2023, he conducted a highly successful course on ecological transition within the school.

Where does your passion for science come from?
Since my childhood in a small rural village in Picardy, I sought to understand the world around me. I loved mathematics and later developed an even greater interest in physics, finding solace in its rational answers to my inquiries. I believed physics enabled the comprehension of phenomena and the ability to foresee potential outcomes.

You are an alumnus of ESPCI. What is your professional background?
My educational journey is unconventional; I spent two years at the Institute of Optics before joining ESPCI in the second year. Following my master’s degree, I completed a 6-month internship in Switzerland, working on software development for a microscopy application. Subsequently, I pursued my doctoral thesis for three years at the Laboratory of Optics and Biosciences at Polytechnique. My ecological awareness then determined my career path, leading to the establishment of Projet Celsius.

Why did you choose to return to school as a teacher?
Perhaps by projection. I found it meaningful to speak to the student I was just a few years prior. I had a clear idea of what I would have liked to hear about ecological transition, allowing me to offer a synthesis of the questions I had faced. Returning to school to make an impact, mobilize, raise awareness, and explain climate-related topics was gratifying. Moreover, it was a great opportunity to teach at such a prestigious institution where I had been a student myself.

How was your teaching, focused on ecological transition, received by engineering students?
This initial experience, set to be repeated next January, was also a pedagogical challenge for me, and I believe it was rather successful. It’s not me saying this but the students themselves, as reflected in the course and lab evaluations. I am particularly satisfied, given the high expectations with full amphitheaters each time, and considering the significant stakes involved.

What memories do you cherish from your studies at ESPCI?
Firstly, the prestigious intellectual heritage of the school left a lasting impression, possessing an aura not always apparent from the outside. Then, the close proximity to the research environment: constant interaction with top researchers eager to share their passion. The diversity of topics, which initially unsettled me but ultimately enriched the multidisciplinary education. Lastly, the strong sense of camaraderie due to the relatively small class sizes.

What aspects of ESPCI have guided and continue to guide your career?
The concept of interdisciplinary permeability is fundamental for me. ESPCI’s interdisciplinary training allows me to seek information wherever it resides, regardless of the scientific domain.

Why would you recommend ESPCI to a high school student interested in science?
It truly is the best school for anyone passionate about science in all its forms and who doesn’t want to immediately specialize. Additionally, the intellectual stimulation at ESPCI is exceptional!"

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