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46: The UTC MS2T Labex* A recognised dynamic ‘excellence’ lab., to be fostered, long-term

UTC is host to and supports one of the 171 so-called Labex (see below) entities certified in the French Government’s Investments for the Future incentive Programme (2010). These sites are designated as bridgeheads for “excellence’ in French scientific and technological research, HE and valorisation activities, aimed at generally enhancing their international visibility and repute. This issue’s Dossier zooms in on the underlying challenges and main positive results and fallout.

46: The UTC MS2T Labex* A recognised dynamic ‘excellence’ lab., to be fostered, long-term

Two guest professors … two Best Paper Awards!

Prof. Michal Pioro, University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland and University of Lund, Sweden and Dritan Nace, senior lecturer and research scientist at the UTC-Heudiasyc Lab. started collaborating on the theme “optimizing communication networks” in 2003, with a very rapid acceleration when MS2T was created.

As Prof. Pioro recalls: “In 2013 I spent 3 months as a guest professor at the MS2T Labex. With Dritan Nace and two other Heudiasyc researcher scientists, we developed a solution to make FSO (Free Space Optics) optical networks more resilient when ambient weather conditions became degraded. We called the approach Flow Thinning”. FSO is a recent technology enabling optical communications in free space, i.e., light beams can carry large amounts of data over long distances. Naturally, rain, snow and even fog lead to sharp deterioration of transmission quality. Thus the concept presented, ‘Flow Thinning’ was immediately welcomed by peers. It was presented at a Conference in 2013, the International Workshop on Reliable Networks Design and Modelling (RNDM), where the team received a Best Paper Award, following which it was published as an article in Operations Research, a front line scientific journal with a strong editorial focus on optimization issues.

Since then, Michal Pioro and Dritan Nace have continued to analyse in depth their concept and today they are co-supervising a PhD thesis financially supported by the Labex. Its objective is to design more robust, less expensive, hybrid solutions, in a combination of FSO techniques and other technologies, such as terrestrial optical fibres. In 2017, Prof. Pioro spent a month at the Labex, and the local team made the most of his stay, studying realistic, hybrid networks, one of which is operational in the Ile-de-France Region (round Paris). And yet again, this work was rewarded by a Best Paper Award, at the International Workshop RNDM 2017 (9th International Workshop on Resilient Networks Design and Modelling September 4-6, 2017 Alghero, Sardinia, Italy.

 “As I see it”, notes Prof Pioro, “it is certainly important to receive funding from the Labex for network optimization research. But more importantly, it allows for a truly exceptional working milieu where experienced and junior research scientists can exchange. The Labex upholds a philosophy that brings science and technologies closer and this bears fruit: when, for instance, you apply a basic science such as optimization theory to today’s new technologies, FSO, for example, you can identify the strong points before the systems are implemented and deployed. The vision Labex has of telecommunications networks is also rich in its implications: dealing with all the layers of a network as a system of systems - and not as an addition of separate networks- leads us to discovering more efficient concepts, in terms of costs, quality and resilience”.