Skip to main content
Chap. 3

Opening and diversity


Listen to the chapter

Listen to the playlist

Une A new type of unrest prevailed on the lawns and in the lecture theaters of INSA until the administrative offices ended up occupied. A hint of May ‘68 reigned on the campus, mixed with the students’ sparse demands. We lived through a long period of dissent. For several months, I would arrive in my office in the morning and have to drive out two or three students who had slept there. I had to wake them up so they would leave recalls Josiane Sacadura. 

Raymond Hamelin was in charge of the school during this revolutionary period. He took on the function in September 1974 and lived through four difficult years before the situation calmed down. Calm was restored in June 1978, probably due to weariness. Four years, a whole year group disappeared, the following ones were calmer. From then on, a lot of new ideas emerged and were developed/i> recalls Josiane Sacadura.

These included the closing of old departments and opening of new ones. First of all, Raymond Hamelin closed the Chemistry department, despite it being one of INSA’s main disciplines, along with physics and mechanics. But the context of the time meant that it had to close. In fact, a school supported by the industrial players themselves was set up directly opposite INSA: the Advanced School of Industrial Chemistry Lyon (ESCIL), the predecessor of the current CPE. The Ministry therefore requested the closure of INSA’s Chemistry department, knowing full well that the employment market in this field was not looking very positive underlines Jean-Marie Reynouard, who graduated from INSA’s Civil Engineering and Urban Planning (GCU) department in 1972. But many of INSA’s teacher-researchers worked in chemistry, and this was a chance for them to switch to another field, i.e. the environment specifies Jean-Marie Reynouard. 

Opening and diversity INSA Lyon 57/17
Electromagnetic bio-environment – Roger Santini, June 1991 ©INSALyon


This prompted the creation of the Energy & Environmental Engineering (GEn) department.  I came to INSA for the Physical Engineering department, I was passionate about science and the universe. I came from the Charolais region, and getting into INSA was my sole objective when I left high school. Once I got in, I discovered an extremely lively campus. I was impressed. At that time, a far-left political climate prevailed. We didn’t want to work in industry any more. Students were on strike and the lecturers didn’t manage to get through to us any longer. Apart from one, whose name was Alain Navarro. He managed to forge a link, so I subsequently decided to follow him in the GEn department that he had helped to create explains Jacques Méhu,  year group 18. It was a fabulous period for this young student. We were discovering so much about ecology and the environment. The teachers were discovering things at the same time as us, it was marvelous! It was the time of political ecology and we studied enthusiastically! exclaims Jacques Méhu.

GEn broke free and INSA opened up further to diversity and the world. Raymond Hamelin brought about various educational innovations, such as setting up groups in the first cycle – which helped to reduce student numbers per lecture theatre by dividing up the year groups – and opening up the international section (SCAN) with classes in English. This period also witnessed the birth of the avant-garde ‘studies sections’, starting with ‘sport studies’. Robert Vanel, the first director of the Top-Level Sports Section shares his experience:

Top-level sports sections had existed at high-school level since 1974, but there was no equivalent at higher-education level. At that time, when top-level athletes left high school they joined the Center for Resources, Expertise and Athletic Performance (CREPS) to become PE teachers. The initiative to fill this huge gap in the French landscape came from Marcel Mendes, basketball teacher and director of INSA Lyon’s Sports Service. Meanwhile, Raymond Hamelin had also taken a close look into the matter, based on a study carried out among industrial partners. This study revealed that although students in higher education were very good, they had huge problems with their life skills that made them poorly equipped for the world of work explains Robert Vanel

Solutions were explored on the campus and were even taken to Paris (to the Ministry of Youth and Sport) in Raymond Hamelin’s satchel. 

Opening and diversity INSA Lyon 57/17 He got an agreement, but no positions! In 1981, Marcel Mendes stepped down due to health problems, so I decided to take charge of the matter. The same year, Charles Hernu, the then mayor of Villeurbanne (whom we all knew, of course), was appointed Minister for Defense. “This was our chance!”  ! exclaims Robert Vanel. 

Together with Raymond Hamelin, they went via Charles Hernu to get an appointment with Alain Savary, the National Education Minister. They obtained positions and an agreement to set up a top-level sports section at INSA Lyon. 

It was a virtually immediate success. Bruno Marie-Rose, engineering student in the IT department became a world 200 m indoor record holder in 1987 before obtaining his engineering degree the following year. The media, spearheaded by TV stations, compared INSA Lyon to the American universities! The following year, five students took part in the Seoul Olympics enthuses Robert Vanel, who was called on time and again to present the INSA Lyon model at the request of the ‘Conférence des Grandes Ecoles’ association

But this wonderful success story didn’t end there. New music studies, art, dance and theatre sections were also created. This was also followed by a deepening of international relations, the birth of the valorization subsidiary INSAVALOR then of the Enterprise and Innovation Center (CEI), promoting international cooperation and technology transfers to developing countries. The birth of INSAVALOR in 1988 was remarkable in the world of higher education. INSA Lyon played a pioneering role by deciding to create a technologies transfer and valorization subsidiary – something which had never been seen before! This new body was set up in response to the Savary law, which set four objectives for higher education establishments: initial and continuing education, scientific research, spreading scientific culture and technical/scientific information, and developing international cooperation. One year later, CAST – the center responsible for continuing education and until then managed by former students – was transformed into CAST S.A. explains Michel Descombes, one of its directors.
By creating France’s first two subsidiaries of higher education establishments, INSA Lyon was a forerunner. It equipped itself with the means of developing its vision of opening up to the world, especially to businesses, by suitably fulfilling its missions of training, research and technology transfer. 

Lire la suite - chapitre 4



[Read more...]



Further details

Josiane Sacadura shares her memories of Raymond Hamelin

« I’m always aware of just how lucky I was to have worked for Raymond Hamelin and to have had the chance to participate in this INSA adventure that he made innovative, ground-breaking and exciting. For me, this represented 17 years of extremely intense work and key responsibilities. I don’t regret it, on the contrary, it was a highly enriching experience: 10 minutes head-to-head with him was two working days that went without any unnecessary difficulties, because everything was clear, he gave total initiative, as long as the whys and wherefores were established. Although the days were often long, we enjoyed moments of relaxation and the whole secretarial team was in the same boat, but we had to ‘keep up’! ! » recalls Josiane Sacadura, who was Raymond Hamelin’s one and only secretary.

Fire in Hall B

At lunchtime on Saturday, May 8, 1976, a fire broke out on the 5th floor of Hall B, on the ring road side of the building. A student in a bedroom overlooking the cemetery apparently fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. The engineering students who were stuck in their rooms had to be evacuated by the fire brigade’s long ladder. The others, who had gone to eat in the Large Refectory, could do nothing more but observe the destruction of their rooms. Nobody was injured.

The HP 21 calculator

In 1975, the HP-21 calculator came into being: a second-generation version of the HP-35 (named after the number of keys) that used reverse Polish notation. From the time of its launch, this device with its four basic operations and its memory, was authorized for written tests at INSA Lyon. But to prevent fraud and stop students from passing on information between them, the digital data of the questions was not the same for all students. !

1985: Miners’ wives

« In 1984, the UK experienced one of its longest ever strikes under Margaret Thatcher’s government. The British miners strongly objected to the closure of almost 20 pits, putting 20,000 people out of work. I had been at INSA for a year, working for the GEN and GCU departments. Together with another teacher, we decided to bring in some miners’ wives so that they could tell our students their stories. Beforehand, I had shown my students TV images and played them tapes about this major moment in UK history. But it wasn’t until the miners’ wives came in that they really became aware of their day-to-day lives and what this workers’ fight really stood for. That’s my greatest memory at INSA.»
Albert Karl, English teacher at INSA from 1983 to 2015  

February 13, 1986: 1er INSA Lyon gala Lyon

In January 1986, the 7th edition of the student magazine L’Insatiable was published. On the ‘Major events’ page, there was an article on ‘INSA’s 1st gala’. The opening lines explained that the Student Union wished to organize a prestigious evening event at which current engineering students could meet their elder counterparts. It appeared that the Graduation Ball (BAPSO), which had since become the ‘INSA Night’, no longer met the students’ expectations. This great initiative was held one month later at Eurexpo, which was Lyon’s most beautiful show venue at the time. The entrance fee was 50 francs for INSA students, so that the majority of them could afford to attend. The guest stars included Lennox & Lion Dread and Cookie Dingler.

Click on the image below and go to page 6 to read the full article (in French).

1st INSA Lyon gala at Eurexpo
                           Extract from L’Insatiable – 7th edition, January 1986 


















« Raymond Hamelin and I knew each other well. I was a elected to INSA’s Board of Directors as a trade union representative, specializing in budgetary affairs. In the middle of the 1980s, Raymond Hamelin announced that he was considering the links between research labs and businesses. Everyone used to complain a great deal about the excessive bureaucracy, especially the researchers, so things needed to be simplified to allow greater flexibility with the world of industry. But first of all, Raymond Hamelin had the idea of setting up an association to manage the contracts. Together with Michelle Stuckens – who at the time worked for the continuing education service and to whom he had entrusted the matter – we prompted him to consider the idea of creating a technologies transfer and valorization subsidiary. INSAVALOR was established in 1988, once the subsidiary’s statutes had been unanimously adopted by the Board of Directors » proudly recalls Christian Pillot, INSAVALOR director. 


« Alain Navarro set up the Applied Physics/Chemistry and Environment Laboratory (LCPAE) in 1973 together with some other chemistry colleagues. A few years later, this lab had to refocus within the academic field and even opened up a doctoral program (which became the Master of Science in Industrial and Urban Environment, or master SEIU). As it was no longer able to ensure certain services, I was asked to build a bridge between this lab and the industrial partners, so I set up the POLDEN structure with some young people from the laboratory. This was possible from 1988 thanks to INSAVALOR, which provided an administrative and financial structure for transferring academic skills to the world of industry. »
Jacques Méhu 

Creation of the Double Mixte exhibition

« Within the scope of CAST, the alumni association organized a four-day exhibition to showcase the equipment associated with the field of internships. This exhibition for trainees and industrial partners was held during the third week in September in the Jules Verne and Léonard de Vinci buildings. Initially, 50 firms agreed to take part, but numbers grew and we ran out of space. Large temporary tents popped up, as did a list of the exhibitors’ logistical requirements. We had a telephone switchboard just for the exhibition, a power supply on each stand... Very soon the exhibition had grown into the top event of its kind outside of Paris. In its heyday, in 1987, there were 600 exhibitors, 5,000 represented firms and 15,000 visitors from all over France. We took up almost 20,000 m2 of the campus! To make it easier for the exhibitors to organize working lunches, we even brought ‘La Tassée’ (a famous bouchon serving typical Lyon cuisine located on rue de la Charité) to our campus, and the chef himself, Jean-Paul Bergeot, came to prepare 200 to 300 meals per day! 
EThe 1987 even was also marked by a heatwave, with temperatures in the tents soaring to 30 or even 35°C. The exhibitors organized a petition to find a solution, and it was thanks to Bernard Sonnier, CEO of Maïa-Sonnier, a major construction firm, that the Double Mixte venue was built to accommodate the exhibition.»

Michel Magnin

Ouverture et diversité - INSA 5717
            One of the exhibition halls ©INSALyon
Ouverture et diversité - INSA 5717
             The inauguration by Charles Hernu  ©INSALyon 
Ouverture et diversité - INSA 5717
             Throngs in the exhibition tents  ©INSALyon
Ouverture et diversité - INSA 5717
 From left to right: Raymond Terracher, Charles Hernu and Michel Magnin, exhibition inauguration ©INSALyon















The 1st industrial sponsorships  

« We launched our first industrial sponsorships at INSA in 1989, thanks to the Civil Construction option of the GCU department. It was also possible thanks to Noël Mongereau, the director of the departments at the time. I actually replaced him in this position in February 1990, until Joël Rochat arrived and appointed me as director of the GCU department. We subsequently signed 10 sponsorship agreements with all the major industrial groups of the time, including Bouygues, Eiffage and Vinci.» 
Jean-Marie Reynouard

1990: Foundation of the Chap’s Angels


Trombinoscope - Promo 1976
                                       - Who’s who? – 1976 year group ©INSALyon



Elèves de la promo 1976 - INSA
                                             Students of the 1976 year group©INSALyon









coopérative scolaire
                  Letter from the school cooperative ©INSALyon



Economisez l'energie
                 Save energy: note on saving energy dated November 17, 1976