Ophélia B., student and talented competitor

[ Student Sucess Story ] Ophélia comes from Paris, where she obtained her scientific Baccalaureate with distinction at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, before continuing her scientific training for 2 years in the preparatory classes in Physics and Sciences for Engineers at the Lycée Chaptal. After redoing her final year, she gained entry to ENSTA Bretagne. Ophélia is both a brilliant student and talented competitor. Since secondary school, she has been winning national and international awards through multidisciplinary technical and scientific projects. Currently in the USA, she stopped off in France on 29 June 2017, at the BIOMinnovate Challenge, with a “bio-inspired” student project and was awarded 2nd prize.

During her secondary school at the Louis-le-Grand and preparatory years at the Chaptal Lycées, she did high level Robotics

When she was in Year 12, she took part in the Olympiades des Sciences de l’Ingénieur with two friends and won the 2011 national finals, presenting their hexapod robot. This 6 legged robot (see photo below) imitated the movements of a hexapod: the legs moved in tripodal formation, 3 legs being in contact with the ground at a time during movement. This award motivated them to take the project further and present their robot at the 2012 C.Génial (1) competition, where they won first prize in the Engineering category and their qualification for the engineering category at the major international competition EUCYS. The trio won again and came back with the EIROforum special award, in September 2012 in Bratislava (Slovakia).

Year 13, Ophélia was interviewed by the Conférences des Grandes Ecoles for the Grand Angle publication of November 2012.

« We are lucky to have meetings which are decisive for our project and to be supported by a coach without equal…Aiming for a scientific career, for both men and women, requires true curiosity, to go further, whilst having fun (…). The advantage of scientific studies today is that they open the gateway to a large number of fields, and also enable us to explore the technologies which make up our everyday lives, to explain the phenomena which surround us and to contribute to building tomorrow’s world “.

> More info in the article on the Lycée Chaptal

 At ENSTA Bretagne, in her general engineer training (2017 Cohort) Ophélia is exploring high technology and conducting several projects which are in line with her insatiable curiosity.

Within the framework of 2nd year applied projects, she is again involved in designing a robotic system which this time can be applied to the cleaning of the bottom of a silo for the Brest Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI). The pre-sizing of the device will result in a system composed of 3 modules: a rover motor which provides the propulsion, a front module, which enables loose matter to be removed and a rear module, which enables compacted matter to be removed (caked soya for example, central photo). At the same time, she and another ENSTA Bretagne student from Brazil on an exchange, are interested in a composite bio-material, based on wood fibers – called in French “lamibois” or English “Laminated Veneer Lumber” or “LVL”. Together, they wrote a scientific article on the subject that they submitted to the ACE-X 2016 scientific conference, and they were selected to participate in the conference in Croatia alongside numerous researchers and doctoral fellows.
 > Link to published scientific article 


Photo key : 1st photo, the day that the cohort were godparented by the CMB Arkea (Ophélia, 2nd to right) ; 2nd photo, with her friends at the Foy ‘z, students’ hall (Orphélia, 2nd to left); 3rd photo, ENSTA Bretagne Gala 2015

At the same time, Ophélia enjoys a particularly full student life.

She was president of the riding club « Foy’zwoman » in the association which runs the students’ hall on campus, and member of the music club: she plays bass and performed at the February 2016 ENSTA Bretagne Gala with her group.


Ophélia : « The diversity of the clubs and sports associations is one of the strong points of ENSTA Bretagne. It enables us to have a balanced life, it is essential for personal development during our studies. I really appreciate that, here in the USA where the rhythm of lessons is particularly intense. We are also really lucky to be able to do a large number of sports and activities at ENSTA Bretagne for free or at a reduced price. For example sailing or horse riding: the school helps towards the cost of the lessons, training and events. For horse riding, I was able to organize weekends for advanced riders at the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan stables, beginners weekends open to the whole school and a federal exam session. I also enjoyed being part of the Foy’z, at the heart of student life in the school. All of these experiences have been extremely enriching!”


A career path continuing abroad

The superb Brest Roadstead and its vast seascapes have given her a taste for further horizons. Ophélia has chosen to do her 3rd year engineer training at the American University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2 hours drive south of Chicago. With the precious support of the ENSTA Bretagne Mechanics and English teachers, she prepared her dossiers for the USA and obtained the Fulbright-Monohan scholarship (2) (class of 2017).
Before obtaining her master in December 2017, and following up with her thesis at the same university, Ophélia has set out on a new challenge and obtained her reward. .

Ophélia : « At Urbana-Champaign, I am working in collaboration with biologists, researchers and other students within the Mechanics Department. As “lead graduate student” I get to work in all areas. On 29 June, in Paris, we took part in the finals of the BIO Minnovate Challenge, organized by the Centre Européen d'Excellence en Biomimétisme (CEEBIOS) at Senlis (European Center of Excellence in Biomimetics). I am returning to the USA with some good news for my team: we won 2nd prize in the BIOMinnovate Challenge!”

2nd prize at the BIOMinnovate Challenge 2017

Ophélia « We were inspired by a click beetle (it makes a very characteristic “click” when it jumps) to create a small robot capable of righting itself after a fall. The click beetle has developed a unique jumping technique: when it falls on its back, it uses its body to store up enough energy to propel it through the air to correct its orientation and fall on its feet. My team is made up of engineers from various disciplines and biologists. We are studying the jump mechanism on a microscopic (tribology) and macroscopic (dynamic) scale to model it then create prototypes to test our models. Our aim is to create a robust and reliable mechanism that can be used to make bio-inspired robots that are maneuverable and adaptable (they can move on uneven ground). The fields of application are agriculture, prospection of new planets or the exploration of dangerous or disaster areas looking for survivors”.
Link to web page and video on the project "A Self-Righting Mechanism for Autonomous Robots Inspired by Click Beetles (Elateridae)"

Thank you for this interview Ophélia. We wish you much success in your Master and thesis at the University of Urbana-Champaign…see you soon!


To find out more


(1) The C Genial Foundation brings together businesses and the Ministry of Research for the promotion of sciences and technologies.

2) Through the foundation of the same name, François Monahan (1906 – 2005), a lawyer trained in France and the USA, wanted to enable young, deserving people to follow their education or research corresponding to their vocation, abroad