Cécile Alligné-Münch


Professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (HES-SO), Valais-Wallis

"I’ve also teamed up with local companies to set up a highly dynamic and effective hydraulics team."

My career path

I’ve been a professor of hydraulic energy at HES-SO Valais-Wallis since 2010. I teach hydraulics at the bachelor’s and master’s levels and head up a research team that focuses on hydropower. We’re involved in a number of local, national and international projects.

There are so many reasons why I love my work. It’s quite varied, and every day is different. I have to juggle teaching, doing research, managing a team and communicating with the general public and other experts. I’ve always wanted to teach. I like the idea of passing on my knowledge, and being in contact with students helps me to grow as a person as well. My research means I’m always questioning my thinking, and it pushes me to expand and strengthen my skills. At a university of applied science, the research is more hands on. I’m lucky that I get to see ideas become reality, like when we developed a new type of wind turbine.

I’m also driven by change – setting up new projects and courses, meeting new students and working with new colleagues.

My career path. I’m a hydraulics and mechanical engineer with a degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Hydraulique et Mécanique in Grenoble, France. I was awarded a PhD in fluid mechanics and transfer processes after doing my thesis on the digital large-eddy simulation of turbulence. Towards the end of my postdoctoral research into hydraulic machines at EPFL, and after my maternity leave, I was looking for work and the first ad I came across was for the position of hydraulics professor here in Sion. I was incredibly lucky – I was just in the right place at the right time. Even though there are very few women in this field, I had the support and trust of my superiors and professors at both HES-SO and EPFL. They helped me to get my research up and running. I’ve also had great support from my husband, my parents, my colleagues and other professors I’ve worked with throughout my career.

A downside or obstacle ? I’d like to have more time for my family and still be able to do the job I love. So far, there haven’t really been any other hurdles.

I’m proud to be involved in projects to develop new machines for producing renewable energy. My work includes digital simulations and lab experiments, which are really interesting stages of the process. I’ve also teamed up with local companies to set up a highly dynamic and effective hydraulics team. I’m energetic, and I think that’s my strong point.

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

Ma famille, la montagne, les voyages, l’art contemporain et la lecture.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Marie Curie et Georg Baselitz.

Un livre & un film

La métamorphose (Franz Kafka), lu très tôt et compris bien plus tard et Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog).

Un modèle

Mes parents, une mère active professionnellement, mais très présente, et un père professeur-chercheur qui m’a très tôt initiée aux mathématiques et aux sciences.

Un objet

Mon ordinateur sur lequel je passe des heures et des heures.

Une couleur

Le jaune

Un rêve

Voir mes filles heureuses et épanouies dans leur vie d’adulte.