Fluctuat et Mergitur

Your voice of reason at Paris-Saclay

New institute “Saclay-Mines-ParisTech” in the making
Télécom ParisTech has an image problem. The engineering school considers itself “the best school of digital sciences in France” (“la meilleure école du numérique en France”, or “MENEF” for short). Unfortunately, Télécom ParisTech fares poorly in international rankings: The QS ranking puts the school at position 201-250 in the engineering sciences (behind Supélec, Polytechnique, and Grenoble), and at position 251-300 in computer science (behind ENS, Polytechnique, and Paris 6). While this may appear rough, it is in fact gracious in comparison. The University Ranking by Academic Performance does not know the school at all. Neither does the Times World University Ranking. Or the Shanghai ranking.

We have talked with Dr. Naibaf from Télécom ParisTech about this issue. He laments:

The rankings of our school are indeed disconcerting! They do not at all correspond to the high opinion that we hold of ourselves. Our school looks good only in rankings that do not have a Wikipedia page. Our partner school, Mines ParisTech, solved the problem by introducing their own ranking. But in this ranking, they put Télécom at position 349!
This issue has bothered the school ever since it started considering itself the best school in France. It has tried dozens of different strategies to overcome the image problem. As Dr. Naibaf explains:
We have tried really everything! We have written a very favorable Wikipedia article of ourselves. But then it got flagged as relying too much on primary sources. We have frequently renamed our school. We have tried 5 different names in our 150 year history — and none of them worked. We have even tried writing our name in capital letters (“TELECOM ParisTech”). But this only caused problems when people thought this meant they had to shout the name.
Different possible names.
In red: names that are already taken.
Researchers regularly complain that, when they go to conferences, everybody thinks they come from France Télécom. But now a solution is finally in sight. Together with his colleagues, Dr. Naibaf has developed an ingenious scheme: By combining different institutes, one can increase the visibility of each of them — to the benefit of all. This idea has been used successfully in the past: The Institut des Mines and Télécom ParisTech joined to form the Institut Mines-Télécom. What is new in the proposal is the insight that the addition of “Saclay” yields a multitude of new possible combinations. Dr. Naibaf explains:
Adding one more name increases the space of possible names drastically. We also congratulate ourselves to the idea of combining more than two constituent names in an institute name. Unfortunately, we had inadvertently already created one such name, Mines-Télécom-ParisTech, in the past. Also, names such as Saclay-Paris-ParisTech do not really sound nice. But luckily, one name is still free: Saclay-Mines-ParisTech!
And so this is the name that is proposed for a new institute: Saclay-Mines-ParisTech. Dr. Naibaf hopes that it will quickly generate visibility, because visibility comes from creating new names.

The new institute is also good news for the labor market in France: Since the institute combines 3 different institutes, we need an entire new level of bureaucratic infrastructure on top of the existing ones. The new institute will be hiring a director of education, a director of pedagogy, and director of teaching; as well as a director of science, a director of research, and a director of innovation. This in itself may not be enough to increase the productivity of the new institute. But Dr. Naibaf already has a solution to this problem: He proposes to also hire a director of scientific research, a director of innovative research, and a director of scientific innovation. Truly nothing will be able to obstruct the rise of the new institute then.

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