Welcome to ISPA

Alençon Institute of Plastics and Composites

Alençon Institute of Plastics and Composites

“Made by businesses for businesses “

Your partner for Education, Training, Research and Innovation in Plastics and Composites
ISPA is a highly specialized Institute whose unique area of expertise is Plastics and Composites.  
Our 3 main focus areas are:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Research and Innovation 

Founded over 30 years ago by the French Plastics Federation and the Alençon Chamber of Commerce, ISPA’s vocation is to supply highly skilled Plastics and Composites Engineers and Technicians to the French Plastics Industry.
Our Corporate Training courses provide cutting edge training to Industry, and our Research and Innovation department works side-by-side with industry and academia both in France and Europe.  

Close links with industry

Our close links with Industry through our Governing Board, Scientific Advisory Committee and our network of partners in France and worldwide, help us to provide the French Plastics industry with the input and knowledge for the implementation of new technologies.  

Our apprentice Plastics and Composites engineering and technology students are employed from tier-one automotive industries to medical, packaging, cosmetics, aerospace businesses and top-ranking research centres.  Their areas of expertise can be in production, design, industrialization, methods, R+D, quality, continuous improvement….


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What makes ISPA unique?

Over 30 years experience in delivering Degree Apprenticeship


  • ISPA is the only organization in France entirely dedicated to training in Plastics, Composites, offering 100% Degree Apprentices up to Master’s Degree Level.


  • ISPA also provides diverse qualification courses to help upskill employees in the Plastics Industry in their knowledge and training. 

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School Projects

Student projects are all part of team-building and bringing a sense of belonging to the School.  As well as for fund-raising purposes, they also develop a wide range of interpersonal skills: communication, organisation, planning…

Our students are proud to take part in : the EDHEC Sailing Cup, the 4L Trophy Raid, the Téléthon, plus Inter-school composite projects.

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Alumni ISPA

ISPA is lucky to have a dynamic and lively Alumni network, over 2000 are working abroad.  

Our Alumni Relations Officer organizes regular reunions, posts job opportunities and updates details on the website.


ISPAvenir fund

ISPA is a registered charity (non-profit organisation) and is therefore able to receive donations from corporate or individual sources, alumni and partners through the ISPAvenir fund.  



Located in the heart of Normandy, ISPA is situated close to the A28 motorway, high-speed rail links with Paris and Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (Le Mans TGV station), and is just over one hour’s drive from the Caen-Portsmouth ferry harbour.  

ISPA is located on an award-winning campus recognized for its attractive landscaping, architecture and convenient facilities, including a number of Higher Education Institutes, a student canteen, library, sports facilities and student accommodation.  

Frequent bus services link the campus to Alençon centre and the railway station, free bike-hire is also provided by Alençon town council.  

Places of interest near Alençon include the Mont Saint Michel, the Normandy Landing beaches, Paris, and the Loire Valley Castles.

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International Traineeships, Partnerships and Projects

What does “International” mean for ISPA?

ISPA has a long history of strong international links with industry and research laboratories for projects and traineeships. Our engineering students are highly appreciated for their practical and pragmatic mindset.  As apprentices, they already have broad industrial experience and a strong business culture.

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Outgoing Mobility at ISPA in 2016

Diploma Destinations Participation Duration
BTS (EQF level 5) England, Ireland, Romania, Belgium 100% of the class 6 weeks
BASF Exchange Programme Germany 12 volunteer Engineering students take part in this Exchange Programme with the industrial giant BASF 3 weeks in the BASF plant, Lüdwigshafen, Germany 3 weeks at ISPA
Master’s Engineering Apprenticeship Degree 17 different countries including Europe, North America, Asia, Australia 100% of the 2nd year students (50 students)

8 weeks

K2016 Germany 100 students in total , (100% of 2nd and 3rd year students ) 3 days of discovery at the international Kunststoff Convention in Dusseldorf


Incoming Mobility for Research Projects:

At ISPA we are eager to host Phd or Engineering students from international partner laboratories to develop collaborative research projects.  

We take every opportunity for visiting partners to present their organizations to our students, give talks on hot topics in the field of Polymers or just have a chat with our students about internship and employment opportunities.


International Relations

Our International Relations department is there to assist students and host companies with all their questions regarding student mobility, funding, administrative aspects, sending and replying to applications. 


What our students say about their international experience

“Going to India is like discovering a whole new world.
This experience enabled me to learn more about myself and changed my vision of the world.”  

Sarah D  Valeo India
Project Bulk Moulding Compound


“Detroit is my yard! I also travelled to famous cities like New York, Chicago & Vancouver. I experienced many U.S. activities like driving a Mustang and a Harley, hitting baseballs, attending events like the Rally race won by Ken Block or a music festival headed by Snoop Dogg”.

Guillaume L  Faurecia Detroit
Project: Dashboard R+D



“The Hungarian people are friendly, helpful.  Living in a students’ residence meant that I made lots of new friends from all over the world.  My professional project was a great success”.

Ahmed S, Wolf Plastics Hungary
Project: Reducing cycle time on 4 injection presses.  




ISPA Degrees and Diploma courses

ISPA Degrees and Diploma courses

Master’s Engineering Apprenticeship Degree in Plastics, Polymers and Composites (EQF level 7)

Before starting the 3-year Master’s Apprenticeship Degree in Plastics, Polymers and Composites, our students will have already completed either a 2-year technical diploma in subjects such as plastics, materials or mechanical engineering or will have done a 2-year highly intensive preparatory course in maths, physics and engineering sciences.     

Their average age on entering ISPA is about 20 years old.

All ISPA students are employed as apprentices in French host companies throughout their training alternating one month in their host company  and one month in school (“on-the-job/off-the-job”).

The Institut Mines Télécom and French “Grandes Ecoles”    

The ISPA Master’s Engineering Apprenticeship Degree is delivered by the highly prestigious group of Engineering Schools “Institut Mines Télécom”, itself a member of the “French Grandes Ecoles” association.  

Degrees delivered by the “French Grandes Ecoles” are highly regarded in the industrial employment market for their selective admission process, their close links with industry and their top-level research activities.



The French Engineering Degree Accreditation Commission

ISPA is accredited by the French Engineering Degree Accreditation Commission (Commission des Titres d’Ingénieurs), an independent body established by French law in 1934 and whose missions are the evaluation and accreditation of Higher Education Engineering Institutions.  The ISPA degree has been awarded the EUR-ACE Label (European Accreditation for Engineering) which recognizes high quality engineering degree programmes in Europe and abroad.




What do our Engineering students study?  

The Engineering Syllabus is divided into 7 modules :

  • Engineering sciences :  physics, maths, mechanics, hydraulics...
  • Materials : polymers, formulation, rheology...
  • Plastic and composites processing :  Injection, Extrusion, Thermoforming, Blown-film, Blow-moulding, Thermoplastic Composites
  • Product design : CAD, tooling, 3D printing, Eco-Design, Composite Mechanics and Finite Element calculation 
  • Industrial organisation : production, project and quality management, logistics, lean-manufacturing, Continuous improvement
  • Business Skills and International Studies : English, communication, HR management, intercultural skills
  • Sustainable development and Environment : European regulations, environmental risks, energy and climate change…


Additionally, our students have weekly full-day training sessions in our industrial scale workshop with more than 30 machines at their disposal

  • Injection presses (20 presses from 50T-250 T, SUMITOMO DEMAG,FANUC, Negri Bossi, KM…)
  • extrusion lines
  • blow-moulding or blown-film machines
  • 3D printing
  • Robotics
  • They also carry out extensive practical sessions in the R+D Laboratory working on the characterization and formulation of materials ( tensile and impact testing,  D.S.C., FT-IR) .  

Throughout their Apprenticeship Degree our students carry out complex industrial and organizational projects within their host companies, such as :

  • Implementing sensors in injection tooling
  • Validating of injection moulds for transfer to other production sites
  • Reorganizing a production workshop
  • Continuous Improvement in a workshop (5S, SMED…)
  • Formulating and characterizing new polymer materials for specific applications


They also have a mandatory 2-month internship abroad as part of their degree. They remain under the responsibility of their French host company during this period (salary and insurance).  

Examples of international projects are : 

  • Process improvement in an injection moulding workshop
  • Characterization of PLA for processing 
  • Surface engineering for the fire protection of thermoplastics 
  • Robust process optimization

The Master’s Engineering Apprenticeship Degree in Plastics, Polymers and Composites carries 180 ECTS (60 ECTS/ year).

Employment opportunities and pay

  • Even before graduating 72% of our students have already found employment  and 95% are in employment 3 months after graduating.
  • The average starting salary is 35 000 K€/pa.

BTS Europlastic and Composites Technologist Diploma (EQF level 5)

This 2-year diploma (Level 5 European Qualification Framework or Associate Degree) is taken straight after leaving high-school.  The students are employed as apprentices by French host companies, alternating 2 weeks in school and 2 weeks in their company over the 2 years.    

They learn a broad range of skills to prepare them for working in the plastics industry.  On finishing the Diploma they can be employed as Injection Moulding Fitters and Setters,   Tool Trial Technicians, Design Office or Methods Technicians.

During the 2nd year of training the students have an optional opportunity to do a 6-week placement in a European country.  They remain under the responsibility of their French host company during this period (salary and insurance).  


Why I chose ISPA – what our students say

“I chose ISPA for the opportunity to be an apprentice and because of its close links to industry.  I am working in Valeo, Angers, at Tier-1 automotive supplier.  ISPA gave me the necessary advice and help to find my host company”

Loïc F.


“After doing a BTS Europlastic Diploma I joined ISPA because of its well-known reputation in the French plastics industry.  Earning a salary and having financial independence was an important motivation for me.  I am an apprentice with Decathlon sports equipment which is a really great experience."

Eva L.

Corporate training and Research & Innovation

Corporate Training

ISPA’s corporate training department offers a wide range of standard and tailor-made training courses to be implemented either in your company or at ISPA.  Beginning with a detailed audit of the skills within your workforce, we will then build and design a bespoke course focusing on upgrading Human, Organizational and Technological skills.

This can include:  

  • Processing skills (injection, extrusion, decoration…)
  • Management
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Project Management

We also run a number of standard courses on understanding polymer materials, injection moulding (beginner to advanced level), maintenance, robotics. ISPA also designs tailor-made training courses for the European and international subsidiaries of French industries, providing on-site training in English or with the assistance of a local interpreter.

Research and Innovation

ISPA’s Research and Innovation team focus on 3 main themes:

  • Thermoplastic Composite materials
  • Bio-sourced materials
  • Recycled materials

A Scientific Advisory Committee reviews these themes on a regular basis to ensure that ISPA’s focus areas are relevant to future needs and challenges facing the Plastics Industry.  

“Material Perfection in any Form”

ISPA key strength lies in its capacity to bridge the gap between formulating polymer materials and their final processing and end-product.  The optimal blend for the optimal application.

  • Formulating
  • Characterizing
  • Processing

Examples of current research projects :

  • MEET project :  Performance and Lightweight thermoplastic materials for Automotive Applications using
  • Hollow Micro-spheres  (Interreg European Project).
  • Substitution of Virgin Material with Recycled material from End-of Life Vehicles  (LIFE project in collaboration with Renault Technocentre Guyancourt).