Back in late October, Mark Townsley and I had a conversation which went something like this:
Mark: “I can’t believe it’s only November, given how much has already happened since the summer vacation…”
Me: “And I can’t believe its already November, given how much remains to be done before years-end.”
I am not sure how the conversation ended, but in all likelihood it was by concluding that 2016 had been a fantastic (& fantastically intense) year. Now that 2016 has come to an end, that has at least been confirmed: wow, what an intense year!
New ColleaguesOne of the major events was, of course, that Juan Antonio Cordero Fuertes joined my research group at Polytechnique, in September. Actually, his official start date was September 1 – but apparently set on preempting any prejudices (not that we have any… ?) about “Spanish being late”, he started coming in to the office a good week before then. During the few months of 2016 he was with us, he managed all the same to co-author and massively contribute to 3 journal submissions with the rest of the team. And this, in three very different domains spanning from the IoT to the data center. If things go well, they should emerge as good news during the spring. Yoann Desmouceaux joined me as a PhD student in the spring. I knew him as a (brilliant) student from my classes at X, and an overall great guy – and was thrilled that he came back from a stint at Imperial College, London, to continue with a PhD in my team, in collaboration with Cisco PIRL. Marceau Coupechoux joined Ecole Polytechnique as an adjunct professor. Marceau is one of the leading academic personalities in advanced cellular networking – 3G/4G/5G and beyond – and his joining us allows Ecole Polytechnique to really strengthen what we teach in that area.
Major ProjectsAnother major event was that SO-GRID, a large, national, project building a demonstrator of the “Smart Grid” which uses PLC IPv6 end-to-end, completed – successfully. This was one of Jiazi Yi’s significant undertakings – he is the guy from my research group who has seen this through from beginning to end. All in all, about a dozen or so publications came out of this, and some very good relationships built with other members of the SO-GRID consortium: from ST Microsystems over Nexans and Sagemcom, to Landis+Gyr and Trialog, and without forgetting Grenoble-INP, Cap Gemini, ENEDIS, EDF R&D, LANpark … and of course ADEME, the French agency for renewable energy and energy management, which funded the project.
Somewhat related, with Cedric Lavenu from EDF R&D, I co-organized WSPLC2016 at Ecole Polytechnique. A “workshop” on power-line communications in the true sense of the word: workshop. None of those long tedious papers and people droning on while the audience reads email, followed by 2 polite questions (sounds sadly familiar? That’s pretty much every other workshop out there) – and enter two full days of intense discussions. Sure there were presentations – which kicked off the discussions and exchanges. A huge hat-tip to Evelyne Rayssac (Ecole Polytechnique) for dealing with all the logistics so that the ~80 participants could concentrate on science and technology. Sure there were presentations – which kicked off the discussions and exchanges. A huge hat-tip to Evelyne Rayssac (Ecole Polytechnique) for dealing with all the logistics so that the ~80 participants could concentrate on science and technology.
Cisco France, which has endowed my chaire, was another major activity, and source of inspiration. In March, we co-organized the X-Cisco symposium, which drew in 100 or so of experts from many different companies, organisations, from all over the world, for two days, to talk and discuss innovative avant-garde computer networking. It is always hugely entertaining to meet with passionate and brilliant people – and intellectually challenging, in as much as that every conversation, every talk, every coffee break, was rich with ideas, thoughts, and interrogations. It was a great event – special call-out to Evelyne Rayssac (Ecole Polytechnique) and Carole Reynaud (Cisco France) for all their work on organization and logistics and a million other things. What better way to sum it up than by this video of….Of course, tons of other things happened at Ecole Polytechnique and in relationship with Cisco. The iconic former CEO and now executive chairman of Cisco Systems, John Chambers came to visit, brought with him the French minister of defense, and made buddies with Jacques Biot (president of Ecole Polytechnique). John inspired a packed amphi theater of students and staff – oh, and challenged everybody in the process, as he is wont to do.
We took possession of a Cisco-sponsored (& produced) data center – well, two “mini data centers” for supporting the accelerator/incubator/entrepreneurship activities at X, and to support the research and training activities of my team, respectively.
Guillaune Ladhuie and Christian Kakanou from Cisco came out, set up, and configured, everything. And Maëlan Bouazouzi From the Ecole Polytechnique IT staff worked tirelessly with Guillaume and Christian on integration into our pre-existing infrastructure.
And we co-produced science. I am a great believer in “collaborative research” before “contract research”, and always seek the former whenever possible. Thus with Cisco Systems, we readied 3 journal submissions and one conference submission – the latter didn’t involve me, but did involve Jiazi YI and Pierre Pfister, in collaboration with Keiwen Jin, a student in the ACN Masters program (& Keiwen went expertly present the paper at ICC2016).
With Hitachi Yokohama Research Laboratory, we made one journal submission, loosely related to the SmartGrid.
With EDF R&D and ENEDIS, we made another journal submission. We did a few “just us” publications too. The list could go on. And we primed the pipeline for next year, of course.
Despite Ecole Polytechnique being an institution with a 200+ year long history, our core values include to be nimble and agile and move society forward. So, again this year, saw a lot of new things happening regarding teaching. I launched a very hands-on course in Cybersecurity at Ecole Polytechnique…the “fun side” of it…the “hacker experience” – gotta do something to keep our IT staff on their toes 😉 and it was a hugely interesting experience. I also launched our Executive Education program in “IoT” – which in 18 days aims at offering industry professionals access to skills, necessary for building connected objects, and which especially covers safety and security of such – important given the recent IoT DDoS fiasco. I also taught a new version of my traditional course, now called “Introduction to Concurrent and Communicating Systems”, and finished the draft of two textbooks, which hopefully will get through the editorial grinding machine before spring comes.
Also in 2016…
Le collectif NanoSaclay wanted to know about IoT and SmartCities, so my colleague Berengere Lebental and I went to Orsay and gave a seminar and did Q&A with them.
ARCEP, the French telecom regulator, wanted to know “what to regulate in the IoT”
With Cedric Lavenu I tutorialized G3-PLC at the European Utility Week in Vienna – which also was a great occasion to see what industry is up to in the “Smart Utilities” space.
We also published a couple of IETF RFCS: on security, on management, etc.
And, I am certain that I am forgetting something here…this was an intense year.
And how about 2017…?
First, happy new year – of course.
- The X-Cisco symposium will have a 2017-edition: we’re aiming for more exciting, more innovative, more …
- As I mentioned, we have primed the pipeline for 2017…and if all goes well, we’ll be pushing out a bit over a dozen major publications in 2017. This includes, of course, exploring some new scientific directions. No, no spoilers here and now ?
- Two IETF Internet Drafts are also in the pipeline, readying to be published as RFCs by the IETF during 2017.
- The plan is also that I’ll take two new PhD students in 2017, also, some really exhilarating topics. Again, no spoilers ? as to on what topics (and, interested candidates: please do watch this space for an announcement).
- With dr. Jiazi Yi and dr. Philippe Chassignet, we’re brewing on introducing an innovative educational module on “the IoT” for students at Ecole Polytechnique. But shhhhh, that’s so secret that we’ve not even spoken about it to the department head yet.
- I’ll also contribute to the Ecole Polytechnique Executive Masters program, which is opening in 2017 (and, which is an exceptionally interesting mixture of technology and business acumen: MBA’s watch out, this program is going to kick some serious a**).
And then, all those things that I can’t write about before officially announced, such as research projects being lined up with external (academic, industrial – and, international) partners, and some new and exciting international training programs, and new recruits, and …
As my good colleague Yvan Bonnassieux said recently:
“Each year is exactly like last year – more intense and interesting than the previous year”
So, to each and all: fasten your seatbelt, 2017 is coming.