The digital revolution is transforming all aspects of our society, including education – with ramifications on both what is being taught and how it’s being taught. While a publicly funded school like EPFL has a duty to give students the skills they need to succeed in the workforce, we are also called upon to play a pioneering role in research and innovation. Our task is to not only teach but also to develop and leverage new technology so that it benefits our entire society.
To keep up with the rapid pace of technological change, today’s young graduates will have to continue acquiring new skills throughout their careers. We therefore aim to give them a solid foundation of technical knowledge to prepare them for lifelong learning. That’s the idea behind our CORE initiative, which helps students build up this foundation and teaches them the basic principles of computational thinking. We have also set up an innovation-in-teaching fund to help instructors develop new teaching methods. And our Extension School has the core mission of enabling everyone to learn the digital skills that will be vital to success in this new era.
In addition to creating challenges, the digital revolution is also providing opportunities. This is especially true in the field of education, where teachers can use new technology to personalize their lessons and bridge the gap between their teaching materials and their students. At our LEARN center, teachers and educational scientists work together to develop and promote innovative teaching methods, taking a translational approach to research.
At EPFL, we also have a responsibility to prepare students for a world where many tasks will one day be done by algorithms and robots. To stay ahead in the job market, our students will need to have capabilities – like creative thinking and innovation skills – that set them apart from machines. The best way to develop these capabilities is through projects, particularly cross-disciplinary ones, that are focused on contextual learning. Our MAKE initiative gives students an opportunity to work on such projects by providing them with the necessary people and equipment.
Pierre Vandergheynst received the M.S. degree in physics and the Ph.D. degree in mathematical physics from the Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, in 1995 and 1998, respectively. From 1998 to 2001, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Signal Processing Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland. He was Assistant Professor at EPFL (2002-2007), where he is now a Full Professor of Electrical Engineering and, by courtesy, of Computer and Communication Sciences. As of 2015, Prof. Vandergheynst serves as EPFL’s Vice-Provost for Education.
His research focuses on harmonic analysis, sparse approximations and mathematical data processing in general with applications covering signal, image and high dimensional data processing, computer vision, machine learning, data science and graph-based data processing.
He was co-Editor-in-Chief of Signal Processing (2002-2006), Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing (2007-2011), the flagship journal of the signal processing community and currently serves as Associate Editor of Computer Vision and Image Understanding and SIAM Imaging Sciences. He has been on the Technical Committee of various conferences, serves on the steering committee of the SPARS workshop and was co-General Chairman of the EUSIPCO 2008 conference.
Pierre Vandergheynst is the author or co-author of more than 70 journal papers, one monograph and several book chapters. He has received two IEEE best paper awards. Professor Vandergheynst is a laureate of the Apple 2007 ARTS award and of the 2009-2010 De Boelpaepe prize of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium.