Communication is essential for every society. Language, drawing, then writing have always enabled people to evolve and to transmit their knowledge and values.
Video: student's project (in French)
Program presentation and study plan
The training for communication systems engineers is founded on mathematics, computer science, electricity, and telecommunications. EPFL’s Syscom department promotes opportunities to spend a year in a foreign university which you can choose from the large number of institutions with which it has frequent student exchanges.
Video: Introduction to Communication Systems
Once you have successfully completed the BSc then the MSc program, you will be ready to enter the professional world. The possibilities which are open to you strongly depend on how open-minded you are and on how you are able to deal with new situations.
TEO STOCCO – student in second year of the Bachelor’s program.
At baccalaureate school, I was able to study these subjects on my own until I finally had to decide which section to study in: communication systems or computer science? I took part in two open day events for baccalaureate pupils (the first oriented more towards communication systems and the other more towards computer science). I carefully read through the course catalogue and eventually decided that communications systems was right for me. The compulsory subjects are more oriented towards mathematics and information science.
In my first year of studies, I discovered two subjects that I found truly interesting: discrete structures and information science. These two branches stand out from the other courses because the subjects studied are rather atypical and very vast. Although they involve a lot of work, the notions covered and the knowledge gained open your eyes to the world of mathematics and make your studies all the more fascinating. Two other aspects that also give me great pleasure are the impressive array of options to choose from (all tempting, from the second year onwards) and the opportunities to apply your knowledge in small- to large-sized projects. These projects are mainly centered on real problems (calculating public transport routes, simulating epidemics, etc.), which makes them very motivating.
Are the studies difficult? Maybe. What is really important is to have a certain degree of commitment. However, all of the time and energy pays off! Former students whom you will meet before and during your studies have all sorts of incredible stories to tell. Whether it be about a project that they spent time on or about companies that are trying to hire them or how they created their own successful start-up company, etc. The most amazing thing is the wide range of really good opportunities that open up after you finish your studies.
One day, a friend whom I met in my first year of studies, asked me if I wanted to go with him and another student to do an internship in the USA. The previous year he had worked with a professor from the well known National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and he planned to return there. And that’s how I suddenly found myself applying my knowledge in a global earthquake monitoring project, which keeps track of various terrestrial indicators to assess the risk of earthquakes and issue alerts days in advance. My role was to compile data recorded by satellites so that they could be processed, analyzed and saved in a data center. Apart from the technical aspect, it was a golden opportunity to discover Silicon Valley and the atmosphere surrounding the place. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
CELINE DUPUIS – student in first year of the Master’s program.
So, you don’t necessarily have to be someone who loves taking computers apart in his/her free time in order to study at the IC School. However, I have to admit that you come across a lot of computer geeks in these studies…and it’s actually pretty cool!
What I really liked right off the bat was to discover what really happens each time you launch a search query in Google, whenever you send an e-mail message or compress a file into mp3 format. Thanks to the mathematical formulas and theories taught to us, we gradually lift the veil of mystery surrounding computer networks. My third year for me was confirmation of the fact that I had made the right choice to take courses such as Digital Photography, Computer Graphics or Signal Processing. I had always appreciated the world of arts and music and I was delighted to be able to combine scientific discipline with creativity. Not only that, there was a project to simulate the Casino of Montreux that had burned down in 1971: “Smoke on the Water, Fire in the Sky”. Who has never heard this famous refrain from Deep Purple, which actually tells the story of the Casino of Montreux that caught fire during a concert in 1971?
When I saw that the EPFL’s Audiovisual Communications Laboratory had offered to create a virtual reconstruction of this concert hall, I jumped at the opportunity. The first step was to gather as many documents as possible so that we could create a precise model of the Casino. This involved conducting interviews with people who had attended the first Montreux Jazz Festival, reading newspaper articles from the town archives, analyzing dozens of photos, examining blueprints, etc. On top of that, we had old audio and video recordings thanks to the work done by the Metamedia Center, which digitized over 5,000 hours of concerts at the Montreux Jazz Festival. What could be more stimulating than plunging into a past so full of stories and anecdotes and to be given access to such a rich artistic heritage?
As soon as the concert hall had been modeled in the computer, we applied acoustic algorithms to reconstruct sound in 3D. The project was presented at the Montreux Jazz Festival over a two-week period last summer: during the two hundred or so demos that we presented, the spectators found themselves back in 1970s, surrounded by 16 loudspeakers and watching a virtual tour of the casino projected on a giant screen. In this fully immersed state, it was possible to relive a concert from the 1970s as if we’d actually been there!
Bachelor and Master degrees in Communication Systems (2009)
Yannick Do works for a consulting firm in technology.
… Since 2011, I’ve been working for one of the biggest consulting firm for technology. I’m a specialist for technical architecture and installation of IT infrastructures and processes, but I also work on many different projects. This is the advantage of the consulting field: every day is different and gives you new challenges and opportunities.
After my graduation in 2009, I did a six-month internship for the Swiss embassy in Japan. I worked for the Sciences and Technology office. I organized events for innovation or to promote Swiss start-ups and small companies in the Japanese business milieu. I not only discovered a new culture, but I also learned a lot about international collaboration and scientific intelligence. When I came back to Switzerland, I spent 6 months at EPFL as a software developer, in the topometry lab, for my civil service. Then I started my current job.
In my day-to-day routine, it’s not really the high-level technical skills learned at university that are important. What’s important is that after the high quality and intense studies at EPFL, I’m definitely very well prepared to learn quickly and take new challenges every day. As a consultant, I particularly liked the idea of travelling, working on big projects and the possibility to have a career. Even as a junior, I’ve had responsibilities from the beginning and I could prove my capacities.
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