Inria Awards 2011
Julien Wintz : Support for Research and Innovation Inria Award
© Inria / G. destombes
Julien Wintz, research engineer in the department of development and experimentation (SED) at the Inria Sophia Antipolis-Méditerranée Centre has just received the Award for Research and Innovation Support for his contribution to the realisation of a software meta-platform. The platform is used by researchers to develop their own software, which speeds up the development of their work, and is also a collaborative tool for research and knowledge transfer actions.
Julien Wintz has a classic university background having obtained a Master’s in IT and mathematics from the Pasteur University in Strasbourg, after which he began work at the university’s research unit, the Image Science, Computer Science and Remote Sensing Laboratory. ‘That is where I discovered the world of research within the Geometric and Graphic IT team, working on the symbolic resolution of geometric constraint systems under the direction of Pascal Mathis and Pascal Schreck’ explains Julien Wintz. ‘In 2005, I joined the Inria Sophia Antipolis Centre to prepare my thesis on algebraic methods for geometric modelling with Bernard Mourrain GALAAD team. I have always been really interested in graphic geometric IT and it was while working on my thesis that I realised just how much this discipline is closely linked to the other thematic of IT research, in the sense that it allows us to visually materialize mathematical concepts and other physical phenomena which can seem abstract at first glance’. It is a materialisation approach that Julien Wintz considers as a ‘virtuous circle’ which indefinitely links up theoretical answers (mathematical modelling) and practical answers (development of a software tool), each benefiting each other to open new questions and to reiterate the process.
Driven by this observation, in 2008 the young research engineer decided to join the department of experimentation and development at the Inria Sophia Antipolis Centre, under the direction of David Rey. His idea was to confront this experimental approach with the other thematics being developed at the Centre. His sphere of expertise would be scientific calculation and visualisation.
Multidisciplinary and cross-cutting experimentation
« An immersive and interactive video wall: gestural manipulation for medical imagery"
‘Joining the team was undoubtedly one of the most important moments in my career. When I met my colleagues and spent time in the different research teams working in fields as varied as medical imagery and digital simulation, I discovered a team and a context that was ideal for defining and then implementing my experimentation idea and giving it a new multidisciplinary and cross-cutting dimension. Within the team, as a research engineer, I am surrounded by research teams who are keen to help researchers to give a formal structure to their development projects to conduct software experiments based on their research work. Based on the observation that many aspects of the development cycle are recurrent, even if the spheres of application are different, our approach was to pool and share this skill using our position as a support function. This allows the research teams to focus on their business logic codes and methods.»
From a technical standpoint, this pooling has taken the form of a development meta-platform for scientific calculation. This was the goal of the work done by Julien Wintz’s over the past three years. The meta-platform is capable of being adapted into different software platforms dedicated to a potentially multidisciplinary sphere of application and relies on a modular architecture based on the abstraction of data, algorithm and visualisation concepts. As well as the approach (a modular meta-platform), the award attributed to Julien Wintz also pays tribute to the method. ‘From a human perspective, pooling is about reinforcing the community of researchers and engineers who will be using the platform. Thanks to the innovative collaboration methods that it offers, teams working on a same project and even on different development projects are encouraged to work together and share their knowledge. Hence ‘software development support is a real way to forge ties’ emphasises Julien Wintz. If such an opening represents a real cultural revolution, that is not all. The role of support is also vital for innovation. ‘It is a way of underlining the value of research in the eyes of the outside world. Therefore it is an important vector of new technologies’. Thus, the Inria Award for Research and Innovation Support salutes the experimentation approach and the method implemented by Julien Wintz. It is an award that could completely change the status quo by creating closer ties between researchers working on varied projects and generating partnerships with industrialists.
Régis DUVIGNEAU, Inria OPALE, project-team - Inria Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée Research Centre
« With its expertise in software architecture, the SED acts as a catalyst for our research by offering top level software equipment that complements our scientific skills. The projects that the department develops encourage research teams to work more closely together and promote actions of transfer towards industry. Julien has a key role in this process, thanks to the original organisational method that he proposed, both from a human and technological standpoint..»
Thibaud KLOCZKO, specialist engineer, Inria OPALE project-team, Inria Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée Research Centre
« I think that Julien and I were on the same wavelength straight away. We both couldn’t wait to start working together and that is what happened via the ‘Num3sis’ Technological Development Action specialised in multi-physical digital simulation. What fascinates me the most about him is his ability to abstract the problems that are presented to him in order to pinpoint what is important: ‘little is beautiful!’ as he likes to say. I love working with him and the qualities that I really appreciate are his high standards and discernment!»
David REY, head of the experimentation and development department, Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée Research Centre
« Julien has excellent intuition and an exceptional capacity for abstraction and conceptualisation. These qualities, combined with a very good culture of software development, have enabled him to design a pooling tool that makes the specific formal structure of business logic codes and methods much more transparent. It is a real technical breakthrough. »
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