Académie des technologies

Julie Cholet

  • Materials R&D Engineer
  • Thales
  • 30 years old
  • Sponsored by Marko Erman in 2023

Why a career in Tech?

Certainly for the experimentation and innovation aspect. When I was a kid, I loved making things, but I never thought I would become a technologist and make micrometer-scale components! Technology is also about looking to the future by proposing innovative solutions for tomorrow, and it is for me a way of contributing to society.

Your professional experience?

I followed a traditional university path. After a scientific baccalaureate, I decided to go into the field of chemistry, obtaining a DUT and then a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. I then went on to do a Master's degree in Materials Science and Engineering: Thin Films and Industrial Management at Paris Saclay University, which I completed as an apprentice at the Thales research center in Palaiseau. At the end of my studies, I was hired in the laboratory where I was already working, and I am still there today.

Your first experience with technology?

I really discovered the world of technology during my Master's apprenticeship, which involved making nanostructures with a specific profile in order to obtain multifunctional optical surfaces. The resulting innovative material, inspired by nature, is capable of repelling water like the lotus leaf does, thanks to its microscopic surface roughness. It also enhances optical performance, as seen on the textured transparent wings of the Greta Oto butterfly from Central America. This first two-year experience in cleanrooms was very enriching, and gave me the confidence not only to enter the world of work, but also to continue working on the subject.

What do you do today and why?

I am currently a Materials R&D Engineer at Thales Research & Technology in Palaiseau. I develop technological processes for micro- and nano-fabrication in clean rooms. Part of my work is a continuation of my apprenticeship, and we have made great advances in improving the maturity level of this technology. We are now addressing different wavelength ranges by structuring different materials, and the surfaces we have manufactured are currently being tested in operational environment. The idea is to be able to integrate the innovative and self-cleaning material into systems such as cameras, to replace wipers and other current cleaning methods. The cross-disciplinary aspect of my job also enables me to contribute to a number of laboratory topics, always as part of a team, while developing my technical expertise on the microelectronics equipment for which I am responsible, in particular nanoimprint lithography.

Your strengths in this role?

I am methodical and rigorous, which I think is important for developing technological processes. I am also persistent, which helps me to think of the best technical alternatives when trials do not produce the expected results. Development times are sometimes long and require a good dose of patience.

Past challenges, failures, and disappointments?

My rather discreet temperament earned me a few moments of solitude, particularly during my first auditorium presentations. Since then, I have gained confidence in myself and no longer dread the exercise. From the point of view of technological achievements, there are plenty of failures in the research field, but they are all experiences that make success possible.

Best moments, successes you are proud of?

From a professional point of view, every conclusive result in micro and nano-fabrication is a small success! Perhaps I would say my hiring in 2017 after my apprenticeship with the feeling of having found my path by joining the field of research and innovation. Since then, the years have been punctuated by some great technological successes. Getting a finished component after developing a process and whose performance is in line with specifications is something very gratifying. On a personal level, I am proud of the family I have with my partner and daughter.

People who helped influenced or made your life difficult?

First, my parents, who helped me to find my way by encouraging and supporting me without restricting me. I was also lucky enough to be mentored and trained by Gaëlle Lehoucq during my Master's apprenticeship. I was discovering the world of cleanrooms and microelectronics, and she taught me a lot, always in a caring way. My current manager, Patrick Garabédian, also helps me to progress by giving me autonomy and encouraging me in my decision-making. My colleagues have helped me to develop in my work and to gain self-confidence. Teamwork in the lab means that everyone can contribute their expertise and help in their own way.

Your hopes and future challenges?

I would like to take part in new projects and discover new subjects so that I can continue to develop my skills. A bit like the technologies and components we are bringing to maturity at TRT before transferring them to units when they reach TRL5, the idea is to develop my technical expertise before perhaps being able to join one of the Group’s units in a few year’s time, still in a technical position.

What do you do when you don’t work?

I enjoy my family and friends. I like to create some beautiful memories during walks and getaways, and watch my daughter grow up. I also started taking sculpture and pottery classes a few months ago, where everyone can create whatever they like, allowing me to express my creativity. We use different techniques to transform the material into a finished object, so it is a bit of an extension of what I do in the laboratory.

Your heroes from history or fiction ?

A scientific heroin who recently made an impression on me is Katie Bouman, a specialist in computational imaging. She has made a major contribution to obtaining the first photo of a black hole in 2019, and then of our own galaxy's black hole, called Sagittarius A* in 2022, by developing an algorithm to reconstruct a photograph from information obtained with telescopes around the world. This wonderful discovery is the result of an international collaboration involving over two hundred scientists, and shows that behind every hero or heroin is a whole team.

A saying or proverb you like in particular?

Live the moment.

A book to take with you on a desert island?

I would probably take "The Jaw of Cain" by Edward Powys Mathers. This detective story with a hundred pages witch have been placed out of order. The reader has to find the six victims and murderers, and the exact order of the plot pages. To date, only a few people have succeeded. I have recently started investigating, and the desert island setting could be ideal for solving the complex enigma.

A message to young female professionals ?

I was not initially predestined to do science but here I am in R&D. I would advise you not to close any doors and to find out as much as you can to choose the path that is right for you... And why not Tech?


The questionnaire answered by the Women of Tech is a variant of the Proust questionnaire, named not because Marcel Proust got lost in the Paris metro, but in memory of Emilie du Chatelet, a woman of letters, mathematician and physicist, renowned for her translation of Newton's Principia Mathematica and the dissemination of Leibniz's physics work. She was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Bologna Institute. Emilie du Chatelet led a free and fulfilled life during the era of the Enlightenment and published a speech on happiness.

Emilie Du Chatelet

Woman of letters, mathematician and physicist

1706 - 1749