Jean-Yves Dréan: Fibers passion

At the beginning of the 70s, against the backdrop of the oil crisis, his teachers dissuaded him from thinking about a career in the car engine business, which seemed uncertain at the time. If this had not been the case, the current director of the CNRS laboratory of textile physics and mechanics, in the Engineering School of the University of Haute-Alsace (ensisa) in Mulhouse, might never have known about fibrous material. This would have been a great pity because Jean-Yves Dréan openly confesses that fibers are currently a “real passion” for him.

However, it was by complete chance that, at the end of his two years of study at the IUT (University Institute of Technology) of Mechanical Engineering, the young technician did his end-of-year internship in a company that built textile machines. He then continued his studies at the École nationale supérieure des arts et des industries textiles (Ensait), in Mulhouse. The die is cast. After three years of study, followed by a PhD carrying out physical measures on fibrous material, the young man, besotted with car engines was transformed into a young textile fiber researcher. “My passion for fibers first began after my PhD, he admits. Up to then, fibers interested me only as material that was a little exotic. Then I really began loving them.

Jean-Yves Dréan then went on to devoting his whole career to them. As he explains, “ever since I entered the laboratory of textile physics and mechanics, in the 80s, I have worked on transforming fibers for spinning. Then I went on to work on how the microstructure of a fiber has an effect on its mechanical properties. At the same time, I have developed instruments that measure the properties of the fibers, something that is more linked to my original study. In the future, I would like to devote more time to studying exotic fibers, such as the agave*, whose of elastic mechanical properties are surprising!

At the end of the day, the subject doesn’t matter. Apart from the pleasure of discovery, the researcher places great emphasis on the human context in which he carried out his work. The three long trips he has had abroad during his career are proof of this; two to Portugal and one to Canada, spent in research laboratories. These scientific collaborations were built around friendships made years earlier between young PhD students. “Successful projects never come from institutions, but come about due to good relationships between people. Without rich human relationship, it is impossible to develop good research”, he explains. This need to work with other people is also obvious when he explains that his biggest source of happiness in his work is “seeing my students becoming better than me!

In fact, the real driving force behind Jean-Yves Dréan, is humanism. "I am sure that science, even though it has made mistakes, is a great vehicle of progress”. Scientific progress … as well as human progress, of course!

* The agave is a plant originating from Mexico. It is highly decorative with large thick fleshy leaves.

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