30 June 2022
Today we are back to our business interviews and I am pleased to welcome Alexandre and Corentin who are our young PhD students and who work in the everteam research and development laboratory.
My name is Corentin Blanc, I am currently a PhD student at EverTeam Software. To summarize my background, I first trained as an engineer specialized in applied mathematics and modeling. Then I continued my training by specializing in biostatistics, which allows me to focus more on the medical field.
My name is Alexandre Bailly and I have exactly the same education as Corentin, i.e. an engineering school and a double master.
How did you get to Everteam?
It all started with the last internship of the master, at the end of the year. My internship tutor at that time was setting up a project called A.I 4Heart .
This one includes several People, the University of Lyon, a company and a cardiology startup, IzyCardio, based in Lyon, which was looking for two PhD students to participate in this project.
My internship tutor at the time suggested us and that’s how we ended up at Everteam.
Was working for a software company a criterion of choice?
No, it was not necessarily a criterion of choice. What really attracted us here was the subject of the thesis, which revolves around two major issues that are really very current: Artificial Intelligence and NLP.
– AI is very trendy. I think everyone has heard of it and it’s all the methodologies that will try to simulate human thinking or intelligence.
– NLP is the automatic processing of language, whether spoken or written by a machine.
How do you come up with a thesis topic from that?
The thesis topics were mainly born out of the A.I for Heart project, which was set up in partnership with the cardiology startup.
Thesis topic: this is about predicting coronary heart disease from textual and clinical variables that are collected by the cardiology practice.
Thesis topic: my topic is to design a chatbot which is a tool that will be used to interact with humans. It will be used to collect information directly from the patient, in the field of cardiology, via the partner IZIcardio.
Can you tell us a little more about the status of a doctoral student?
Today, it is all about choosing to do long studies. A doctorate is a degree that takes 8 years to complete. It starts with a few years of study
“The doctorate is a mix between the world of work and learning. In particular, we are in a Cifre thesis (Industrial Convention for Training through Research) in partnership with both a laboratory and the company.”
We have tasks that are really focused on work, on the company, but we are also still in this learning phase, so training
– through the doctoral school,
– but also through our research.
“The doctorate also means having a foot in the world of research. There are a lot of theories to grasp, to try to develop.”
And the Cifre aspect also allows us to have the application of this theory in the company.
– Whether it is through the project with industrial partners, in the AI for heart project, but also through the company’s tools.
– Or our thesis work to advance while maintaining a technology watch to know what is done in the field today.
– Once our work is advanced enough with enough results, we can publish. So to share our discoveries, either by writing articles for scientific journals, or by participating in conferences, in two ways, either by making presentations at the conference, or by creating posters to be presented at these conferences.
You recently spoke at workshops with the Hospices civils de Lyon. Is this part of your projects, your work?
Yes, exactly. It was within the framework of the CIA. So, it’s the Artificial Intelligence commission of HCL. And so, whether it was me or Alexandre, we were both able to present our first thesis work to this commission.
You work in Everteam’s R&D laboratory, what does this bring you?
This dimension in a company laboratory brings another vision of what the world of work is and what our thesis subjects are. In our thesis, what we try to do is to demonstrate theorized things and to try to enrich them with errors, failures, etc., to be able to publish articles and then explain them in conferences.
On the other hand, on the company side, we have a constraint which is not the least important with the customer, with his Functional Requirements, Technical Specifications that we do not have at all in our thesis. This means that if we use our work to create tools for the company, we will have to address issues such as performance that is as efficient as possible, that fits of course in the Functional Requirements / Technical Specifications of the customer, and that is fast because the customer can not afford to wait hours and hours for a treatment, a tool, etc., while we, in our thesis, we can afford it.
It also means adapting your work to the needs of the company. It is not always easy to go from a great pure theory to an application like a company.
Finding the right balance to complete the thesis at the same time, while meeting the expectations of the company, it must be a balance that is not easy on a daily basis. How do you divide your time?
There is no typical day at all. I think that the balance is very close to a sandwich course because on paper, half of the time is spent in the company and the other half of the time is spent in the laboratory. This already allows us to be much more open and to meet a lot of people through the laboratory and the company.
Afterwards, there is a big difficulty in terms of organization because we often juggle between the thesis and the company. Sometimes the subjects are different, sometimes they overlap but most of the time they are different. And so you have to adapt, to organize yourself as the weeks go by, even days, because if you are in a company, you will not necessarily have the same things as if you were in the LBBE laboratory (Laboratory of Biometry and Evolutionary Biology)
And vice versa. It is indeed a lot, a lot of organization.
What are your drivers or goals for moving forward with these constraints and with your projects at the same time?
Personally, my main motivation is to take up challenges, so to break a little bit the head to overcome the obstacles. Whether or not they come with my thesis, succeeding in demonstrating what we are, what we want to demonstrate, publishing what we want to publish, but also in the tasks entrusted to us by the company.
Sometimes we go outside our field of expertise and it is quite stimulating. Another motivation for me is, on another scale, to advance research, especially medical research.
And of course to participate in putting a brick in the tools of the company for everything that is the development and growth of the company.
How do you see the future?
The future is still very open. We are now a little less than a year old and there are still many possibilities. We have one foot in the public sector through the laboratory and the HCL in Lyon, but we also have one foot in the private sector, Everteam, with what we have learned, published and developed within the company
It’s the same for both of us.
This is what shows the richness of these tests in companies.
We have so many possibilities and we have a little less than a year left. So it’s both very long and very short at the same time. It depends on your point of view, but it’s true that we have a lot of possibilities and I think that it will be decided at the very end of the thesis depending on how it will end.
The last word
Don’t be afraid of the thesis because sometimes it’s hard, it can be scary, but I think the outcome is worth it in the end.