French duo drawn to Detroit for auto history

Student-athletes aren’t the only group that comes to the University of Detroit Mercy from abroad.

Two second-year international exchange students, Louis-Clement Viaud and Thibaud Groot, have moved on campus and will be continuing the pursuit of their degrees in mechanical engineering this winter semester. In partnership with Detroit Mercy and their university in France, Institut Catholique d’Arts et Métiers, or ICAM, Viaud and Groot had the opportunity to study abroad. With six locations across France, ICAM educates many aspiring engineers from all across the country.

Originally from Nantes, an industrial city in the northwest of France, Viaud attends and lives at ICAM located in Paris. Back home, Viaud is a part of his school’s newspaper, enjoys going out with friends, and plays tennis and soccer in his free time.

“I wanted to come to Detroit because it is known for its cars and I thought that would help me while I am studying mechanical engineering,” Viaud said.

Hailing from Toulouse, the fourth-largest city in France and located in the south of the country, Groot attends ICAM in his hometown. When he is not studying, he finds time to play handball and go skiing with his friends while at home.

“I was excited to travel somewhere new and experience new things while continuing my education,” Groot said.

Although different compared to their usual ways of life in France, the pair have found their early days in the U.S. both enjoyable and informative. Living on campus, the transition has been made simpler as it is very similar to their living situations at ICAM.

Despite classes being online for the first three weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, Viaud and Groot made use of the university’s fitness center to work out. They also made frequent visits to the library and have enjoyed their dinners at the Titan Dining Room eating with new friends.

While Viaud and Groot are focused on studies, both intend to spend time exploring Detroit and its history while they are here.

“We could be anywhere for school, but we chose to come to Detroit,” Viaud said. “It is important that we learn as much as we can.”

Since their arrival, Viaud and Groot have gone to their first NBA basketball game, explored Mexicantown, and visited Campus Martius. In the coming months, they hope to go to the DIA, the Henry Ford Museum, and continue to try new, local cuisine.

In May, Viaud and Groot will be returning home to ICAM and France to continue their studies in mechanical engineering. Both hope to work in the automotive industry and believe their experience in Detroit will help make that a reality.