My maintenance career #3: Marc-Antoine Talva

His experience as a maintenance methods engineer apprentice: “Studying in the industrial maintenance sector, in which it will always be very easy to find a job, is a wise choice.”

Mobility Work is putting maintenance careers in the spotlight! In this third episode, Marc-Antoine Talva, Mobility Work’s CEO, tells us about his education as a maintenance methods engineer at Centrale Nantes (a top French engineering school), and in particular about his apprenticeship and his opportunities in terms of professional integration in the industrial field.

Mobility Work: Can you tell us about your educational background? And how did you come to work in industrial maintenance?

Marc-Antoine Talva, maintenance methods engineer: After retaking, I obtained a baccalaureate in electrotechnical engineering, penalized by mathematics and mechanics. As I hadn’t found any school to integrate after that, I chose to repeat the same senior year to give myself some time to think about my future. So I opted for an advanced technician's certificate in industrial maintenance. During these two years, I improved my academic results and took up the basics in physics, mechanics and mathematics.

I then entered a technical preparatory class, which corresponds to a transition year for those who wish to enter an engineering school following an advanced technician's certificate. This year was very difficult, in terms of courses, pace or personal investment. I was finally accepted to Centrale Nantes in apprenticeship in mechanics. During these three years, I studied materials, design, management, etc.

I completed my apprenticeship at FMGC (foundry subsidiary of material transformation specialist Farinia Group) within the maintenance methods department. The main tasks consisted of conducting various reliability studies and implementing a CMMS solution. After graduating, I stayed in this company, always with the main mission of implementing an industrial maintenance management system. It was at this time that the idea of Mobility Work came about; we finally founded the company with Morgane Guinot in May 2016.

Why did you opt for an engineering school after your industrial maintenance advanced technician's certificate?

During my second year of advanced technician's certificate in industrial maintenance, I discovered a passion for mathematics and maintenance methods. I also understood that it would be more difficult for me to evolve in the industrial world if I stopped my studies after this career. My tutor at the time then told me about preparatory classes, so I decided to take this course rather than trying to enter an engineering school directly.

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the engineering degree?

The main strength of this degree is the vision it provides. We learn how to take a step back, to adapt, to form ourselves, etc. If a piece of information is missing on a subject that I am not familiar with, I know how to take the time to analyze it and understand the situation while taking actions to overcome this difficulty.

The main weakness would be that the level of some courses remains far from the industrial reality. Apprenticeship helps to counterbalance this weakness, and to stay in touch with reality from the field. It is easier to understand why some engineers who have completed a full-time education are disillusioned about many subjects.

How do you explain the increasingly blatant lack of industrial maintenance courses in engineering curriculums?

Maintenance has always been seen as the third wheel. It is not sufficiently valued in engineering schools, which makes it impossible to attract students to these fields. They are nevertheless at the heart of the companies in which they will be working. We all know that if maintenance coughs, the whole plant gets sick. All of this has a direct impact on maintenance courses in engineering schools.

However, the emergence of new technologies should change the perception students have of industrial maintenance, and therefore engineering curriculum.

Why did you chose apprenticeship?

Simply because I needed to start acquiring experience in the field, so that I could gain a more concrete understanding of what I was learning at school.

What was the main difficulty you had to face while you were an apprentice at school?

These 3 years were very intense: exams, essays, courses and the work in company, which is hardly restful. However, this teaches us to deal with a fairly large amount of work, which later becomes very useful.

What was the main difficulty you had to face while you were an apprentice in the company?

The lack of agility, and the time necessary to validate ideas and projects. This is the main difference between theory and practice: there are people with different cultures between the two. All this leads to decisions that can slow down the implementation of an idea or a project.

One last piece of advice for those who wish to opt for a career in the industrial maintenance sector?

Industry and maintenance are drastically evolving with the emergence of Big Data and new technologies (IIoT, etc.). Maintenance is totally reinventing itself, even if we must not forget the most important: people, culture and management. Studying in the industrial maintenance sector, in which it will always be very easy to find a job, is a wise choice.

Maintenance methods engineer

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Thank you to Mr Talva, Maintenance methods engineer, for his testimony. To be alerted of our next articles dedicated to maintenance careers, follow us on our social media!

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