Polytechnique-Berkeley Research Fellowship program
École Polytechnique and UC Berkeley signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2023, providing an institutional framework to reinforce their cooperation and take further various academic and scientific projects the two institutions have initiated due to their steady ties.
The Polytechnique-Berkeley Fellowship program is one of the initiatives École Polytechnique, and Berkeley School of Engineering aim to deploy further. Open to students of both institutions, the program enables participants to discover the research environment on the other side of the Atlantic during a five-month research internship. Initiated in 2022, the fellowship program has since enabled three École Polytechnique students to do their research internship in the EECS laboratory at UC Berkeley as part of their 3rd year of studies in the Ingénieur Polytechnicien program.
“This research fellowship program allows students who specialize in computer sciences at École Polytechnique and UC Berkeley to work alongside top researchers at the partner institution and gain hands-on experience in cutting-edge research projects in the United States or France. An immersive research experience, which allows students to develop additional skills and enhances their career prospects”, stresses Dominique Rossin, Provost at École Polytechnique.
An invaluable experience
The curriculum of École Polytechnique's Ingénieur Polytechnicien program comprises a five-month research internship during the third year to introduce students to scientific research methods and their application in a laboratory or R&D center in France or abroad. Each student is to work on a specific research subject linked to their specialization and learn to put their knowledge into practice while integrating a research team.
Keen to pursue a research career, Victor Morand (X20) is one of the three students who have benefitted from the new research fellowship program. He explains that in addition to discovering academic research in an international context, he was also eager to improve his fluency in English, which he considers essential for any researcher. "When I saw the internship offer within the EECS department at UC Berkeley, I didn't hesitate to take a chance and apply. The institution is world-renowned for the excellence of its research."
The suggested research subject – studying the physics of road traffic using neural networks - also proved perfect, as it looked into the practical application of deep learning methods, a field in which Victor strives to pursue his career as a researcher. "I felt fortunate to be given a real research job: after exposing the subject to me, my supervisor gave me much leeway regarding the research approach and the directions I wanted to explore while offering me valuable advice during our regular meetings", he says. This approach bore fruit, as Victor Morand's supervisor considered the outcome of his research likely to get published. He encouraged Victor to take his work further and write a research article in collaboration with two German researchers and an Italian researcher based in the United States. They then submitted the article to the Journal of Computational Physics.
"It was a very enriching experience. I discovered the different stages in research, from the initial exploration of a problem to the description of the results in an article submitted to a scientific journal. I am very proud of the work accomplished with the other researchers and look forward to our article's publication! The research internship at Berkeley reinforced my desire to work as a researcher. Besides, I also enjoyed the extremely international research environment, not to mention the exceptional setting of San Francisco Bay and California."
Victor Morand during his visit of the Redwood National Park, Northern California, home to the tallest trees
Linked to the Polytechnique-Berkeley Fellowship program, the two institutions are currently working on a sponsorship project to support future students from École Polytechnique and UC Berkeley to do a research fellowship at the partner university. The sponsorship aims to help cover the critical costs arising for École Polytechnique’s students if their applications to do their internship at Berkeley are accepted. Berkeley and École Polytechnique's Computer Sciences department graciously covered the costs for the first three students.
The X-Berkeley research fellowship program allows participants to conduct cutting-edge research projects in Artificial Intelligence, Game Theory, Machine Learning, Optimisation, Distributed Systems, Security, and Programming Languages, with various applications that extend to transport problems and beyond.
Alexandre Bayen (X95), Provost for Moffett Field Program Development at UC Berkeley and the Liao-Cho Professor of Engineering at UC Berkeley, Natacha Crooks, Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley, Éric Goubault (X84), Professor at École Polytechnique, Computer Sciences department, and Daniel Cedeno, Development Manager Americas at l'X, have been instrumental in elaborating the program.
Daniel Cedeno, International Development Manager - Americas at École Polytechnique: daniel.cedeno[@]polytechnique.edu
Natacha Crooks, Assistant Professor UC Berkeley, EECS department: ncrooks[@]berkeley.edu