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Category: Graduate Studies (Page 1 of 2)

Meet Remi Gourdon: New Grad Student with New Ideas

I met with Remi right outside his robotics class. Sidestepping a moving robot as another student navigated it through the hall, we sat on the couches to talk. Remi was friendly and helpful, clearly a hard-working person. At GTL for only four months, he has been here as long as we have. He was able to give me some insight in the differences between U.S. and French education. Here are his responses to some of the questions that I asked him.
What made you want to come to GTL?
I spent a summer as a U.S. university for professional development in Ohio in a small town. I had the opportunity to come to Georgia Tech from my school, and I took it. I wanted to experience more U.S.-style education.
What is your favorite part about GTL?
I like the way the courses are taught. It is very different from French engineering school. There are a lot of projects and practical work, as opposed to lots of lectures and tests. It gives time to read books and learn material and is more interesting when you can apply the theory you learn right away.
Are you working on any research right now?
I am working on a special problem in the robotics lab. It is not what you think of when you think of a traditional robot. Its function is the detection of faults in metal plates using ultrasonics. I am in charge of the processing of the signal, but we have lots of people who work on other aspects like mechanical and electrical.
What do you like to do for fun?
The amount of work here is different from what we are used to. This limits what I can do outside of school. This last weekend though, I visited Metz in daylight for the first time. It was very beautiful and I enjoyed to walk there.
Do you have any advice for new GTL students?
Be prepared for some cold. Be prepared [for] a much smaller campus. I spent a summer at a large campus and it is much different than here. At the same time it is good to have a small group that you can get to know. Make friends with the people, because they can help you in school and in travels.

Meet Brandon Carroll: Soon-to-be-Doctor and Excellent ECE Professor

Walking into Brandon Carroll’s office hours, I could tell that he had a lot on his plate. Answering a student’s question, his laptop screen filled with graphs and his notebook annotated in detail, it was easy to tell that this is a man of multitasking. I was thrilled that he had time for a few questions for the blog. He is one of my favorite professors, and has a knack for knowing exactly what the students mean when they ask questions, which is a rare gift. Here are some of the questions I asked him.

What classes do you teach right now?

I teach ECE 3710, which is a circuits class. It is definitely less stressful than my other class, which is ECE 3048. It’s a junior level Electrical Engineering class about signals and systems. It is a LOT of math, with Fourier and Laplace transforms. It has a lot of things that I haven’t done in a while. But you certainly learn the material better if you have to teach it.

What are you working on right now besides teaching?

I am working on my PhD with Dr. Anderson at the moment. So I have to work a lot on writing and defending my thesis. My research is about using machine learning algorithms to study chicken behavior based on sound. We put a microphone in the chicken house and analyze the sounds they make to determine how they are feeling. People are really interested in animal welfare, and if perfected, this system could replace the method of taking cortisol samples, which stress the animals out. This would be a way to measure the system without disturbing it, and would really benefit animal welfare.

What is your favorite part about being a professor?

Someone came up to me the other day and said, “This is the first time I ever fully understood convolution.” You can tell they are understanding something they didn’t before. Seeing that light come on is really rewarding.

What is your favorite part about GTL?

I haven’t thought about it a whole lot. This is my first year at GTL. It has been a lot of fun trying to learn a new language, although finding the time for that is hard. I love experiencing the culture around here. The food and baguettes are really amazing. The scenery around Metz is really pretty too. I took a 3.5 hour walk yesterday, and passed all these picturesque fields. It was amazing.

What are some of your hobbies outside of school?

I love playing tennis, and camping and hiking. I especially love reading. Picking a favorite book is hard, but I would have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. I also really liked The Book Thief, and The Name of the Wind is really cool too.

Graduate Student Interview: Sarah Malak

This week, I was able to catch up with one of Georgia Tech Lorraine’s graduate students, who are part of our institution that we undergrads don’t really see much of. Meet Sarah Malak, a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering and one of the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with. Sarah was born in Atlanta and grew up a huge fan of Georgia Tech, even attending Tech home games when she was younger. However, Sarah decided to move out-of-state for college and only just recently reconnected with the university from her home town.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Akron in Ohio, Sarah received a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Polymers and Applied Mathematics, while also minoring in Arabic – talk about ambitious! She then moved all the way to the Middle East on a program with Middlebury College where she continued her Arabic studies in Jordan. She lived there for 6 months, also stopping by in Israel where she studied in Tel Aviv for around 3 months. Sarah told me that she traveled all over the country while she lived there and said that Israel was the most beautiful place she had ever been.

After finishing school there, Sarah decided to move to Paris where she attended an engineering school, Le Mont, for 1 year. Around this time, she met who the man that would become her husband in Brussels and moved with him to live in Nice. Following this, Sarah decided to get her PhD, and when she learned about Georgia Tech Lorraine, and the fact that she could actually attend the university she had loved in her childhood, it became clear to her it was a perfect opportunity.

Outside of her quite impressive academic history, Sarah also actively pursues many hobbies and interests in her free time. Among these are a number of musical instruments including piano, flute, Balalaika (a triangular Russian guitar), and the Darbuka (a type of Arabic drum). Another very interesting hobby of hers is belly dancing, which is in fact more than a hobby, as she is actually a professional in the art.

Outside of her PhD work, Sarah also acts as a TA for the undergraduate dynamics class here at GTL, which is where I first met her. As someone who has enjoyed getting to travel all over Europe and see lots of amazing things so far at GTL, it was really cool to hear about all places Sarah had gone for school, work, and just for fun. She told me that out of everywhere she’d been, Tel Aviv and Brussels actually stuck out to her the most. Israel for the incredible beauty and history of the country and Brussels for being one of the most interesting places to be. Since Brussels is home to the European Union parliament and is a center for much EU related activity, there always tend to be people from all over the world staying in the city at any given time, this combined with the fact that, in Sarah’s words, “[t]hings just don’t close there,” it makes it an amazing place to meet interesting people and do fun things.

Maybe I should give Brussels a visit myself, it sounds like a great place and it’s just as close to Metz as Paris is. Anyway, I really enjoyed talking to Sarah and if you happen to be taking dynamics here (which seems to be a lot of us) don’t hesitate to come visit her for help during her office hours, she really is a very kind and helpful person.

Thinking in Two Tongues: Graduate Student Christian Caracci

Name: Christian Caracci

Major/Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering

Year in Grad School: 1st

Undergraduate Institution: Florida Atlantic University

Interests/Hobbies: Skeet, sailing, tennis

One piece of advice for students: “Don’t procrastinate!”

Baguette or Croissant? Baguette

(“I want sandwich for lunch today, ”a mix of Italian and English) – could be something that pops through graduate student Christian Caracci’s head. Don’t understand? I’ll translate it into two different languages 1) English – I want a sandwich for lunch today. 2) Italian – “akslfjlas.” A most interesting fact about our fellow GTL-er is that he thinks in two tongues. He was born in Italy, but has spent time there and in America growing up. It’s been a mix of both countries in his collegiate career as he attended Florida Atlantic University in the United States as an undergraduate and doing the dual degree program that Georgia Tech Lorraine has with Las Sapienzia – University of Rome.

After completing his dual degree program, he hopes to go into the workforce. Specifically, operational excellence on the manufacturing side as in engineering management. In his spare time, you could catch him doing any of the hobbies above, in addition to traveling or playing pool with his graduate school buddies in the GTL lounge.

A quick FYI, we have a pool table that’s behind these board separators in the GTL lounge! It was like finding treasure when Christian and his friends found it and has been incorporated into their daily schedules.

Good luck with your studies Christain, and best of luck in the future!

Home-Country-er: Graduate Student Djegui Dembele

Posted by Harry

Photo Courtesy of Djegui Djembe.

Name: Djegui Dembele

Major/Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering

Year in Grad School: 1st year

Undergraduate Institution: Lycée Chaptal (Paris)

Interests/Hobbies: Playing tennis, solving a Rubik’s cube (11 seconds is his quickest), learning about science and relativity.

One piece of advice for students: “Pay lots of attention to the professor and ask lots of questions in class. If you do, it will save time down the line. Be an active member in class, or otherwise the amount of work doubles if you’re passive. Also, have an active lifestyle, too. And keep your body strong.”

Baguette or Croissant? Both, but baguette is much more flexible as it can be used at any meal. The croissant is only a morning thing.

Meet graduate student Djegui Dembele, who (surprisingly) is the first French Graduate Student I have met. This is also the reason for the title “Home-Country-er”, which is a slang word I made up to describe someone who is a native person to the country. Talking with Djegui was interesting, since we got to discuss some of the differences between French and American education styles. The biggest thing he points out is how much more independence-driven the English education style is. In America, we usually get assigned homework that we must do by ourselves. In France, it is usually done in groups with a teacher guiding them along the way. “It’s much less autonomous, we never work by ourselves,” Djegui describes. In addition, he mentions that in lectures, the professors go over the basics of a topic and leave the rest of the “figuring out” as homework.

Although different from what he’s regularly used to, Djegui is making the most of the opportunity he has with the graduate program and can’t wait to head to Atlanta next year! Best wishes Djegui!

Dr. Puybaret & GTL: Two Peas in a Pod

After a bit of running around, I was able to finally track down a fun candidate for interviewing this week. Originally I was all set for an interview with my Differential Equations professor, Dr. Jordan. However, Harry, being the master interviewer, had already snatched him up. Fortunately for me, this led to the interview of one brilliant Dr. Renaud Puybaret.

Upon entering Dr. Puybaret’s office, it was clear he was a step ahead of the rest. His entire door was covered in papers. Entering his office was much the same, as his desk was crowded with more papers and as he turned to greet me, his face seemed like one in thought. On his computer were two open windows, almost identical, showing black backgrounds with slightly lighter dark circles in a pattern across the screen. These were apparently simulations of some Nano-sized photovoltaic cells he was designing.
As you may have guessed Dr. Puybaret is not American, but born and raised in France, earning his degrees in Toulouse. He attended the French University, ENSEEiHT, earning his Masters of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering degree. Our wonderful advertising people here at GTL sold Dr. Puybaret on Georgia Tech’s graduate program. Dr. Puybaret originally had a full job lined up with Airbus following his graduation. He attended a presentation given by Professor Bertrand Boussert about Georgia Tech. “We were college students and they were giving out free food, so of course we attended. Yet, after hearing about all the great things they were doing, my friend and I looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s do it’!”

That day, he received his contract from Airbus in the mail. His then professor Dr. Ougazzaden, and now current boss, called him just in time. “Had professor Ougazzaden called me an hour later, the contracts would have be signed and there would be no going back. But instead I decided to be poor and do science.” Despite already having a job already lined up, Dr. Puybaret always felt that having an American degree would be a great thing. Most companies have American offices, and he’d always wanted to go to America. The decision proved both intelligent and fruitful. He began his doctorate in 2009 and officially received his PhD in June 2015. Dr. Puybaret described, with a smile on his face, all the great times he had. “Half the time I spent in America, which was a very good experience. Half my time was in the School of Physics in Atlanta.”
Upon completion of his doctorate, he went through Georgia Tech’s Innovation Corporation, where his thesis for his PhD became the ground for his own Nanotech Company. Dr. Puybaret focuses on fabrication of devices of size 50 to 100nm. There are two categories in Nano Physics: which utilizes graphene, and Inorganic Photovoltaic, using indium gallium nitride. Working under Dr. Ougazzaden, Dr. Renaud Puybaret is a Post-doc creating a company to make LEDs out of the Nanotech developed in his Thesis. However, the brilliance doesn’t stop there — on top of running his own company, Dr. Puybaret is also a professor here at GTL. He teaches ECE 3040 (Microelectronics) teaching the basics of creating transistors and photovoltaic cells.
With amazing researchers and professors such as Dr. Puybaret, it is clear to see why the GTL campus is growing so much.

From One Hemisphere to the Other: Graduate Student Claire Hardgrove

harry-w12-p1-p1Name: Claire Hardgrove

Major/Field of Study: Computer Science

Year in Grad School: 1st year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Sydney

Interests/Hobbies: Playing the trumpet and learning more about computer science.

One piece of advice for students: “Set up your environment well so you can focus on studying. Eliminate all secondary distractions so you can focus on the task at hand.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant.

‘Ello, mate! I introduce to you to graduate student Claire Hardgrove, a woman who has traveled pretty far from Sydney, Australia to be here at Georgia Tech Lorraine. Once again, GTL strikes with its diversity as a global institution. Claire is currently studying computer science here, with an interesting background that may surprise some.

Before coming to GTL, Claire studied geoscience as an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney. You’re probably wondering the same thing I am (namely, how did you go from geoscience to computer science?). Well, it’s really very neat: she’s actually studying the robotics side of computer science and using computer vision and perception to tackle environmental science problems. It’s not the first time I’ve met someone combining computer science with another discipline to solve issues today (go check out the post on Shane Griffith).
Another thing Claire noted was that even with the language barrier, it’s been nice to be in a little “bubble” of English speakers to help her adjust. After her time here, she plans on hopping to another continent, and maybe even going to San Francisco! Best wishes to your studies Claire!

The “Real” Behind Artificial Intelligence: Graduate Student Shane Griffith

Posted by Harry

harry-w9-p3-p1Name: Shane Griffith

Major/Field of Study: Computer Science

Year in Grad School: 8th year

Undergraduate Institution: Iowa State

Interests/Hobbies: Weightlifting

One piece of advice for students: “Find something you’re passionate about, and stick with it.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant

Are you a fan of the movie The Matrix or iRobot? Have you ever thought about how artificial intelligence could possibly take over the world? Go no further because we have a current graduate resident at Georgia Tech-Lorraine who studies up on that next-level science fiction stuff! His name is Shane Griffith.
Out of all the graduate students I’ve interviewed so far, Shane has by far been in school the longest. After graduating with a BS in Computer Engineering from Iowa State in 2008, he went to grad school there for three and a half years before enrolling in the Georgia Tech/GTL dual degree program. He was in Atlanta for two years, and has been at GTL ever since 2013. The research he does, which is looking at algorithms to help integrate robotics and artificial intelligence, is beyond your typical run-of-the-mill computer science. In fact, Shane makes it an interdisciplinary study by looking at these AI problems using not only CS, but psychology and biology as well. Looking at these problems using knowledge from different fields has brought success to Shane, as he recently had a paper that was published and orally presented at a conference.
Outside of class, you can find Shane lifting at Fitness Park in Metz or just doing more research because as his advice says, we should all look for something we’re passionate about and stick with it. Best of luck to you Shane as you wrap up your graduate studies and move us towards an artificially intelligent future!

The Italian Man…: Graduate Student Giuseppe Mariconda

Posted by Harry

Name: Giuseppe Mariconda

Major/Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering

Year in Grad School: 2nd year

Undergraduate Institution: Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan)

Interests/Hobbies: Outdoorsy and sporty. Loves basketball and soccer.

One piece of advice for graduate students: “Not having regrets” ⇐ YOLO?!

Baguette or Croissant? “Baguette. Salty food over sweets any day.”

Disclaimer: The full title of this blog post (which was much too long and why I put “The Italian Man” and then an ellipsis) is: The Italian Man that I Didn’t Think was Italian at First since He had No Accent and It was Really Surprised Me that He was Italian. And that’s why the ellipsis was there. This “skill” is something that he practiced and something he can turn on and off at will, because when asking him to speak with an Italian accent he easily could as well.

When we’re talking about Georgia Tech Lorraine as a “worldwide institution,” I really began to see it with Giuseppe. The first week, I was able to interview graduate student Taha, who was Tunisian. Giuseppe is full Italian, and midway through this interview, he introduced me to his friend, Claire, who was Australian. Pair that up with the French graduate students around, and you’ve got yourself a pretty diverse set of people. Being an undergrad here, which is made up of three American institutions doesn’t really give us that global perspective that GTL actually is.

So, a little bit more on Giuseppe. He’s currently studying Mechanical Engineering, with a focus in acoustics and materials science. He’s full Italian, and is actually here on a sort of “2 year triple-school” program that I found really interesting. He spends a year at an Italian university, the Sapienza Università di Roma, 6 months at GTL, and then 6 months at the Georgia Tech-Atlanta campus. He’s into the latter half of the degree is looking forward to spending time in America! That’s something that all the graduate students I’ve talked to are the most excited about in their respective programs. I can definitely see where it comes from, as I was extremely excited to come to GTL from the other side!

The coolest thing about Giuseppe is his attitude on life. As you can see from his life advice, he’s not afraid of taking risks and making the most of any situation that he’s in. After he graduated from college, he moved to Rome, having no idea what he was going to do. He didn’t know if he was going to work, keep doing school, or anything in between before he just stumbled upon this program. He took a shot in the dark and applied, and soon enough, he was on the train to go to GTL! It’s a very fresh outlook that we can all take away, as sometimes, we should just take leaps of faith and have a positive attitude that it’ll all work out. This attitude carries over as after he completes his degree program he still has no clue what he’s going to do, but he figures that he’ll be alright no matter where he is.

Good luck Giuseppe! I’m sure you’ll be doing great things!

Working Towards a More Energy Efficient Tomorrow: Graduate Student Matt Jordan

Posted by Harry.

Photo courtesy of Matt Jordan.

Name: Matt Jordan

Major/Field of Study: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Year in Graduate School: Starting 4th year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Richmond in Virginia

Interests/Hobbies: Playing the trumpet and tour cycling

One piece of advice for graduate students: “It’s not just about being in the right place. It’s about being there at the right time too.”

Baguette or Croissant? Croissant. It gets even better with chocolate.

Meet Matt Jordan, a man from the southern part of the USA. After obtaining his Master’s Degree at Alabama, he chose Georgia Tech Lorraine as his next destination in his studies. During his time here, he has had his hand in many different research topics around the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Currently, his focus is on making solar energy more energy efficient by maximizing the amount of electricity generated for the least amount of cost.

Matt had some really nice options on the table when picking a school after his Master’s. Alongside GTL, he also had an offer from Stanford (wow!). GTL was the enticing option for him because of the opportunity to work with people across the globe and live in Europe. It’s definitely worked out, as he has gotten to work on a variety of projects and integrated himself into the graduate student “family” here. Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to take his research skills to the next level at a US national lab.

Outside of class, you can call Matt a renaissance man. He can play the trumpet, cycle for kilometers on end, and is a passionate skier too. His one recommendation to undergrads who like skiing is to go to the Alps. I’m not much of a skier so I probably won’t take that advice, but I will pass it on to those who do!

If you’re ever looking for some advice from an established graduate student in the ECE field or just looking for someone chill to hang out with, don’t be afraid to drop by the PhD students’ office and say hi to Matt!

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