Development Research Technology

Hi! PARIS Engineering Team – Interview

The Engineering Team, an accelerator for Hi! PARIS research projects 

The Hi! PARIS Engineering Team is made up of engineers specializing in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) headed by Stephan Clémençon, a Full Professor and Head of Research Team at Télécom Paris. Launched in January 2021, the team’s mission is to offer support in the fields of machine learning and data analytics to researchers from the Hi! PARIS member institutes: HEC Paris, IP PARIS and Inria (équipe IP PARIS). Gaëtan Brison a research engineer from Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Pierre Blanchard, a delivery officer, and Antonio Merida, who is in charge of setting up the Engineering Team, are pleased to present this new initiative. The team includes two more research engineers: Pierre-Antoine Amiand-Leroy and Awais Sani. 

What is the role of the Engineering Team within Hi! PARIS?

Gaëtan Brison. The primary goal of the Hi! PARIS Engineering Team is to support the development of research projects in the field of AI and data science, which in turn helps to internationally promote the scientific activities of the Hi! PARIS member institutions.

By providing the necessary technical resources and expertise on specific projects, we move projects forward and researchers can produce and publish results faster while achieving high quality coding standards 

In addition, we increase the visibility of research, for example by publishing in opensource code hosting platforms such as GitHub. To that end, the Engineering Team helps researchers to produce high-quality and user-friendly packages and make them publicly available, so that the whole AI community can benefit from this work. 

What technical support can you offer and on what types of projects?

Pierre Blanchard. The Hi! PARIS Engineering Team supports the development of projects in machine learning at every stage of the research process. We carry out all sorts of tasks. For instance, we can help researchers to collect data and prepare databases, to train, test and deploy predictive models or design software packages in various fields such as computer vision or natural language processing. We favor open-source activities, so that they may be used by the Python community.

We have currently delivered eight projects and eight more are underway. You can find out more on our website https://engineeringteam.hi-paris.fr/

How many people are you in the Engineering Team? What are your professional profiles?

Antonio Merida. There are currently seven engineers and one intern working in the team. One of our shortterm objectives is to hire more interns and to invite students from the Hi! PARIS schools’ academic network to participate in the team’s activities. 

PB. Technically speaking, we have data engineers, machine learning-engineers, data infrastructure engineers. In addition to this broad range of skills, our members come from different backgrounds. Our engineers have worked for tech companies, the defense sector, business consulting firms or the field of telecommunications, among others. This diversity is what makes the Hi! PARIS Engineering Team capable of understanding the different issues of researchers and why we are able to come up with innovative and efficient solutions in a very short time.

GB.. There is an incredible cohesion in the Hi! PARIS Engineering Team but also with the researchers. The Engineering Team’s purpose is also to foster collaboration between students, as well as member institutions, to work together in symbiosis.  

How do you work with researchers?

PB. A contact form is available on our website. To request technical assistance, the researcher can fill this form and describe his/her project, the field of machine learning, encountered issues, and urgency. We then contact the researcher to rapidly set a meeting to identify their needs and expectations. After a feasibility analysis, we plan our response and set a project roadmap. The whole process only takes about a month.

GB. We assign two engineers to each project, according to their affinity and technical skills. We hold a weekly meeting with researchers until the project is completed and their expectations are met. We work closely with them to build a trustworthy and stimulating work environment.   

GB. To communicate about our projects and to make the newly created Engineering Team known to all the partner schools of the Hi! PARIS network, we have recently begun to organize events.

What type of events do you organize?

GB. To reach out to other researchers, we organize a breakfast in a partner school every three months. The first breakfast took place in May at HEC Paris and the feedback was extremely positive. This convivial moment allowed us to present the support activities of the Engineering Team and to showcase two projects. 

PB. During this event, the researchers who we worked with presented their research to their colleagues. We concluded with a Q&A session and less formal exchanges over coffee and croissants during which we discussed research ideas and future possible projects.

What’s next for the Engineering Team?
AM. Starting September, our objective is to open the Hi! PARIS Engineering Team to graduate and doctoral students. By supporting our research projects, they can acquire new skills and gain a rewarding professional work experience. In the near future, the Center would like the Engineering Team to provide help to all applicants by offering the services of the Engineering Team to the educational departments of Hi! PARIS member shools, and to researchers and students outside the Hi! PARIS network as well. We could become a training center on specific subjects and carry out knowledge transfer activities to increase the technical expertise of students or staff of corporate donors. GB. I would also add that one of our objectives is to connect and federate scientists and students from different fields and institutions from the Hi! PARIS research community. In the long term, the Engineering Team will help Hi! PARIS to create a multidisciplinary research hub in Palaiseau which will favor innovation in the field of AI and machine learning at a national and international scale.
In June 2022, six months after its creation, the Hi! PARIS Engineering Team has delivered eight projects.
  • Meta Learning (Gael Guibon, IP PARIS – Télécom Paris)
  • Data Depth (Pavlo Mozharovsky, IP PARIS – Télécom Paris)
  • Structured Predictions (Florence d’Alché Buc, IP PARIS – Télécom Paris)
  • Cookies DataVisualisation (Klaus Miller, Hi! PARIS chair holder at HEC Paris)
  • GitHub Knowledge Spillover (Aluna Wang, Hi! PARIS chair holder at HEC Paris)
  • Newspaper and GDP Predictions (Anna Simoni, Hi! PARIS Followship holder at IP PARIS – ENSAE Paris)
  • Deepdespeckling Satellite Imagery (Emanuele Dalsasso, IP PARIS – Télécom Paris)

More info about the projects supported by the Hi! PARIS Engineering Team on  https://engineeringteam.hi-paris.fr/about-us/

To ask our help, get in touch with our team: https://engineeringteam.hi-paris.fr/request-for-technical-support/ 

Want to take part in one of our AI projects? Apply here: https://engineeringteam.hi-paris.fr/call-for-participation/