When entering the Ingénieur Polytechnicien Program, French nationals acquire the status of military officers.
International students remain civilians throughout the four years of the program.
Following an induction week at École Polytechnique in September, the personal development and military training course takes place for three weeks at the Courtine camp (Creuse, France). During this period, students learn the basics of military and command training, and develop the year group's esprit de corps through the active teaching skills of the Armed Forces.
This training addresses the notions of command, leadership and interpersonal skills taught in the management internships. Students acquire military management skills, which will be essential in their future jobs as supervisors or managers, i.e. identifying the challenges leaders meet, taking a step back and anticipating.
These methods have several educational objectives.
Develop a sense of collective interest: The initial military training course teaches students how to work as a team. The aim is to demonstrate that the strength of the group enables you to go further. Each person's role within the group is also made visible, as students work towards a common goal, in order to give work meaning and encourage commitment. They also learn command techniques through small group management role-plays.
Act in a crisis: Students become accustomed to thinking and making decisions under stressful physical or mental conditions. The military method for managing crises consists of sharing information before acting: learning how to ask the right questions, anticipate scenarios and gather expert opinions beforehand. Another technique used and taught to students is to deal with only one objective at a time rather than spreading themselves too thin.
Sports and physical activities: École Polytechnique's initial military training aims to make students aware of their own abilities. They discover their physical and mental limits and strive to exceed them. This helps to develop willpower and a fighting spirit. Numerous activities such as obstacle courses, climbing and orienteering are offered during the course.
Stress management: Students learn how to manage their psychological stress by having to overcome obstacles in their daily lives. They therefore learn to face difficulties and potential failure by using their qualities and managing their weaknesses.
During the Courtine camp, time is devoted to preparing for the first-year human and military training. Talks organized during the stay present the panel of possible affectations in civil and military posts offered to students. This time allows students to make sure the training they choose is suited to their personality and corresponds to their expectations.
The human and military training is compulsory for all first year students for a period of six months, in either the armed forces or a civilian organization. Students have the option of completing their period abroad, in an international military or civilian organization. This is a valuable opportunity for them to discover another country and culture.
During this unique training, which has no equivalent in other engineering schools, each student learns the importance of the human factor in the world of work and develops their interpersonal skills within the group.
An integral part of the academic training provided at École Polytechnique, this affectation is an experience designed to increase students' maturity by moving them away geographically, sociologically and intellectually from the world of classes préparatoires and university.
This practical field-based civic commitment is graded and promoted in the Ingénieur Polytechnicien curriculum. During this experience, each student offers their time and skills in return for a very high level of community investment for their training.
This period aims to promote open-mindedness and enhance knowledge of social realities among students who will in the future be entrusted with engineers' and managers' responsibilities. Students develop their interpersonal skills by discovering new social or cultural environments.
Three quarters of students complete their period at the Ministry of Defense.
The Armed Forces
Training at the Brigade des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris (Paris Fire Brigade) in a fire fighter incident command capacity. Training in the Unité d’Instruction et d’Intervention de la Sécurité Civile n°1 (Civil Protection Instruction and Intervention Unit) which deals with large-scale incidents (earthquakes, nuclear plant explosions, storms). Training within the adapted overseas military service, in a supervisory role to young people completing a vocational apprenticeship.
The Air Force
Training at the Escadron de Formation des Commandos de l’Air (Air Commando Training Squadron) as an assistant to the head of a training division.
Training in the Marine Commandos at the Electronic Warfare Unit supporting troops operating on and under the sea, on land and in the air during their exercises. Onboard periods as an assistant deck watch officer.
The National Gendarmerie
Training at the Compagnie de Gendarmerie des Transports Aériens de Toulouse (Toulouse Air Transport Gendarmerie Company) monitoring the rolling out of investigations following air incidents and the construction of the first Airbus A350 prototypes.
The Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (French defense procurement agency)
Training at the Centre d’Analyse Technico-opérationnelle de Défense (Defense technical-operational analysis center) to take part in Franco-British expeditionary force deployment meetings.
A quarter of students complete their period in a civilian organization.
- An introductory training to the teaching profession within the Fondation d’Auteuil in Paris which supports young people with family or social problems.
- Training in general education public schools in Cotonou in Benin, having the task of preparing the best students for the baccalauréat and higher education.
- Training at the Fleury-Mérogis Prison giving lessons to detainees.
- Training within the association "L’enfant à l’hôpital" supporting hospitalized or disabled children, adolescents and young adults throughout the whole of France.
- Training at the Fédération Etudiante pour une Dynamique Etudes et Emploi avec un Handicap carrying out awareness-raising actions in schools and colleges for better integration of disabled young people.
- Training at the ATD Fourth World's center for family, social and cultural promotion in Noisy-le-Grand, supporting families that have been taken in with settlement or rehousing assistance.
In April, after completing their Human and Military training, the students arrive on campus. From April to July, they take classes in scientific subjects that make up the Core Curriculum, supplemented with foreign languages, scientific lectures and laboratories visits, as well as a communications seminars and sports.
The first year consists of the Core Curriculum, with courses in the following subjects: Economics, Computer Science, Pure Mathematics (real and complex analysis), Applied Mathematics (randomness), and Physics (quantum mechanics).
Introduction to Economics
This introductory course aims to teach all first-year students the central themes of Economics, and demonstrate how our analysis methods can be used to explain the differences in wealth between countries.
Manager: Olivier Gossner et Jean-Baptiste Michau
One optional course depending on the track:
Introduction to Computer Science
The first part of this introductory course addresses the programming basics common to the majority of languages. The second part addresses the different ways of representing structured data and its respective basic algorithms. The final part of the course presents some of the conceptual tools used to model concrete problems and correct a program.
Manager: François Morain
Principles of Programming Languages
The objective of this course is to consolidate students' knowledge of programming, offering them an overview of the main existing paradigms: imperative (C, Java), functional (OCAML), object-oriented (Java, OCAML), etc. The concepts of these programming languages are introduced by giving precise mathematical semantics. The course is aimed at first year students who have already gained some knowledge of computer science before starting their studies at the École Polytechnique.
Manager: Benjamin Werner
One optional course depending on the track:
Real and Complex Analysis
This course is an introduction to real and complex mathematical analysis, and presents four major themes: measure theory and Lebesgue integration, Fourier analysis, the theory of Hilbert spaces and variational methods and the theory of holomorphic functions (i.e. functions of a complex variable which can be derived complexly). The course as a whole aims to provide students with a solid functional analysis skills base that will open up access to several scientific fields.
Manager: Yvan Martel
Real analysis and introduction to variational methods
This course aims to provide a solid foundation of functional analysis skills to open access to several scientific fields: Fundamental Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Mechanics, Theoretical Physics, etc. It addresses important and closely related mathematical topics: Lebesgue's theory of measurement and integration, Fourier transformation, Hilbert space theory and an introduction to variational methods.
Manager: Frank Pacard
This course introduces the basic notions of probability theory, i.e. the mathematical analysis of random phenomena. It will focus on the two major notions which are the foundations of this theory: conditioning and the law of large numbers.
The objective of the course is to help students acquire probabilistic reasoning skills and learn probabilistic modeling and simulation. This modeling is fundamental in numerous fields of application. The course is illustrated by numerous concrete examples and numerical experiments. It also provides a brief introduction to statistics.
Managers: Josselin GARNIER et Nizar TOUZI
Quantum mechanics is probably one of man's most fertile intellectual adventures. It has helped determine the structure of nuclei, atoms and molecules, clarified the nature of light, and is an essential tool in understanding modern physics, from elementary particles to the stars and the Big Bang. Moreover, its economic impact is equally important, as the majority of high-tech products (electronic, lasers and optronics, nanotechnologies, telecommunications) are derived directly from quantum concepts. The aim of the course is to introduce all students to quantum mechanics and a number of its applications.
Managers: Philippe GRANGIER, Manuel JOFFRE
This course is an introduction to the questions and methods of cognitive sciences. Early brain development and intuition, brain mechanisms of acquisition and mathematical operations.
Manager: Stanislas Dehaene