"When I got my degree from the Ecole des Mines, I didn't know how to do anything with my hands. But there was nothing surprising about that: I was an unalloyed product of French teaching methods. I realised that it would be useful to teach students not to be afraid to get their hands dirty: to educate future engineers by first of all inculcating in them an experimental approach to science. The idea was to send them out into the field, dressed in workers' overalls; to make them share in the concerns of the technicians, as well as in management's problems: in short, to make them ingenious engineers." Georges Charak Robert Germinet, who holds a doctorate in physics, is the director of the Ecoles des Mines, Nantes, and regional director for industry, research and the environment for the Pays de la Loire.