Laudation written by Natacha dePaola

It is with admiration that I stand here today to proudly give a laudation speech for Xavier Fouger in this joyous occasion.

A few words quickly come to mind when thinking of Xavier: Dedication, Conviction, Passion, Generosity, Perseverance, Service …

However, it is his vision what most impresses many of us. Xavier is a visionary. Always ahead of time, and ahead of most. He possesses an inquisitive mind and is highly innovative.

Over the years, Xavier has consistently recognized the needs (and holes) in engineering education and has identified (and created) opportunities - working together with academia, the private sector, engineering education societies, and even some governments - to fill in the gaps and build on strength.

Xavier’s professional career developed over the past 36 years with two constant drivers: passion for education and interest in the international dimension towards creating global impact.

Xavier started his professional career here in Vienna soon after completing his engineering studies at the Ecole Centrale de Lille in France. As a scientific attaché at the French Embassy in Vienna (1986), Xavier developed a bilateral scientific and technical exchange program of scholarships between France and Austria.

Upon his return to France (1990) Dassault Systèmes became Xavier’s employer and recipient of his innovative talent. Started on sales and customer relations supporting the automotive industry and developing innovation in automotive design methods. It was while consulting for German, Korean and Japanese companies to modernize engineering processes (using advanced software developed by Dassault), that Xavier realized how useful is for companies to use the Technology (digital tools/software) in conjunction with new Methodology and that it is only achievable with training. So, he started training his team and a few years later (2003) he transferred these educational activities to the university by creating the “Dassault Systèmes Academy” (or 3DS Academy), which - with a worldwide scope - focused on the development of cooperative relations with the world of education and professional training.

One of Xavier’s demonstrated strengths (fully displayed with the 3DS Academy) is his ability to get engineering education into perspective by linking it with the real world and the activities of working professionals. Xavier is a constant contributor and supporter of innovation in teaching practices that aims to transfer the digital approaches proven useful in the industry to teaching in engineering. He has set a distinctive path and inspired others to follow it.

Xavier efforts in education have continued to evolve by adding more participants and skill levels to include high schools, middle schools, vocational schools, and continuing education for working professionals- all over the world. His passion for education, dedication, perseverance, and commitment to develop a more able workforce led to the formation of what is today the “3DExperience Edu” global network of academic partners dedicated to the use and dissemination of digital tools in STEM education, creation of new curriculum, promoting lifelong learning, and enriching the engineering learning experience at large.

Realizing the importance of new methods and digital tools as catalyzers of change, Xavier started exploring educational associations. In 2006, Xavier joined the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) annual meeting (Chicago) and discovered the “power and reach” of the organization. However, he quickly recognized that it [ASEE] was missing a “Global” dimension. Together with Hans Hoyer (then at ASEE promoting international engagement) and with the support of both DS and ASEE leadership, IFEES (the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies) was created in 2007. Soon after, in 2008, GEDC (the Global Engineering Deans Council) was created (from IFEES) with Xavier as co-founder and host of the inaugural meeting in Paris. In 2009, Xavier becomes active in SEFI (European Society for Engineering Education) and IGIP and most recently Co-founded (with Krishna Vedula) the Indo-Universal Collaboration on Engineering Education (IUCEE). Xavier is currently an active member and/or participant of all of these societies.

Xavier has also worked with policymakers and governments around the world on the development of programs supporting national priorities (France, India, Tunisia, Malasya, and the United Arab Emirates)

In all, Xavier’s efforts on STEM education have been truly global with impact in 5 continents and over 100 countries.

Xavier is an influencer in the global engineering education space. He has been instrumental in the creation of a global ecosystem that promotes industry-academia interactions and collaborative work towards improving engineering education and making it more relevant to the needs of industry. He continuously emphasizes the value of multidisciplinary learning and the importance of “professional skills” (communication, team work, etc.) to achieve success in engineering education and practice.

Xavier innovative thinking and transformational efforts in engineering education has influenced and inspired others within our engineering community. Engagement of companies (large and small) working side to side with academic institutions and engineering educational societies to keep engineering education relevant constitutes a key element for success. The global engineering education community greatly benefits from the consistent leadership of Xavier who has served as a dedicated advocate for academia while being a voice for industry.

Xavier is of a highly collaborative and generous nature. He would listen to everyone (small and/or big partner) and give his time to understand, condense and extract important content while identifying opportunities to help build on a vision with defined goals along with a plan of action to support the collaboration or partnership.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Xavier’s role in the creation of Dassault Systèmes LEARNING LAB.

Xavier always asks the hard questions others avoid. He would challenge current practices while always ready to contribute valuable insights and workable solutions .

In 2015, Xavier recognized that Dassault Systèmes was lacking activities on Educational Innovation and moved to create the Dassault Systèmes LEARNING LAB, which worked on Project Based Learning (PBL) as methodology to drive its own activities in Engineering Innovation.

At the same time, the Dassault Software was evolving from Project Life Management (PLM) to become the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform with all applications in one place to carry product development from ideation to market. With this collaborative approach, PBL in education organizes projects in the same way that projects are organized in Industry.

Today, the Dassault Systèmes LEARNING LAB carries out its educational innovation work in collaboration with the world of education, contributes to projects for the educational use of the “digital twin”, and supports the many DS Learning Labs in the global network, which in turn are impacting and transforming engineering education across the world.

Xavier continues to be occupied with the 3DEXPERIENCE Edu Center of Excellence (CoE) program, which are focuses on combining the use of Advamced Digital Tools with Field-specific Knowledge to facilitate (enable) the use of the Digital World in the development and advancement of knowledge.

Personally, I have enjoyed my interaction with Xavier for the past dozen years, since we first met in a tour of pineapple fields in Hawaii (introduced by Hans Hoyer). I have been impressed with Xavier’s intellect and profound thinking - Every time I converse with Xavier I learned something new and our chats trigger new ideas. He has been an inspiration and very helpful to me on some of my projects in engineering education. Thank you Xavier.

It was a great pleasure to highlight some of Xavier’s accomplishments and to share with you my respect and admiration for our dear colleague.

With no doubts, Xavier is very deserving of the 2022 IGIP Tesla award, which he will proudly add to his other significant awards and recognitions including the “Peter the Great” Medal by the Association for engineering Education of Russia and the SEFI fellowship (2021).

Prof. Natacha dePaola, PhD

Director IDMET (Illinois Tech Digital Medical Engineering and Technology Research and Education Center)

Xavier Fouger

IGIP Contact

IGIP President
Tiia Rüütmann
M: president@igip.org
IGIP General Secretary
Michael E. Auer
M: gs@igip.org
F: +49 3212 1045 622

Consultative Status with UNESCO

Consultative Status with UNESCO