Could you please introduce yourself?
I am Matthieu, a French Alumni of the École polytechnique Bachelor of Science. I majored there in Mathematics and Physics and am now following the Physics Master of Science at ETH Zürich.
What I most enjoyed in the various courses I followed at École polytechnique was to apply interesting and challenging mathematics to a somewhat concrete subject such as physics. Furthermore, finally studying and understanding the physical phenomena I had vaguely heard of in the past was extremely rewarding. We also saw all the many unknowns that remained to be explained in the various fields of physics, and it was only natural to want to continue down the path of research in physics.
What made you choose your current university/program?
While preparing my applications to Master programs, I was still a bit lost as to which particular field of physics I wanted to specialise in. I therefore started looking for a program with a wide range of courses, while offering a high academic level. The Physics MSc at ETHZ fitted that requirement. Furthermore, ETHZ is also known for its scientific heritage, making it a very attractive choice. A last argument was that compared to Masters in the US or the UK, the study fees at ETHZ are quite low, which has to be taken into account.
What skills/knowledge gained during the Bachelor of Science have you been using in your current program?
During my studies at École polytechnique, the main skill I gained was the ability to study and learn efficiently in a limited time span and under high pressure. This skill is incredibly useful, as it allows to undergo a high workload while not crumbling under stress. This is essential to follow demanding studies at a high academic standard with success and keeping a healthy mind, having time for your hobbies.
When you joined the Bachelor of Science, did you already know what you wanted to do after the program?
When I joined the Bachelor, I thought that I would then continue in mechanical engineering, as it was the field I knew most about, and which I knew I liked. The Bachelor program has helped me discover and learn about the so many subjects I had only vaguely heard of, in all the majors offered by the program. This way, I realised that I found particle physics incredibly interesting and decided to take this direction.
What memories do you have of your time spent at l'X and in the Bachelor program?
From my experience during the Bachelor of Science, the greatest highlight was the relations I developed with fellow students. Sharing both study and life experiences, as well as the many subsequent struggles, has made every bound both strong and singular in its own way. These relationships have left me with many memories, making me who I am today.
What are your ambitions for the future?
In the future, I will probably continue in academics for some time, starting with a PhD, most likely in particle accelerator physics and modelling. From there, it is still unclear, but I count on my time and experience during a PhD to help me decide whether I want to continue in research or move on to other sectors. This follows my approach to my studies, which is to have fun and do what I like, figuring out the next step along the way.
Any advice to current Bachelor students when deciding about the pursuit of their studies?
In fact, this would be the advice I would give to current Bachelor students: choose your Master programs not only by what the outcomes are, but mostly based on what will bring you pleasure if you must do it for the coming future. Having a degree from École polytechnique and going most likely to study in prestigious universities, you will most likely be able to take any path you like without excessive risk.