Prof. Dr. Abdelhadi Soudi

Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, Morocco

Host at the University of Siegen:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kristof Van Laerhoven
Research Group for Ubiquitous Computing

Current professional background:

I am a full professor in Morocco, at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines. I am here at Siegen University as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow.

Field of research:

My research is focused on natural language processing, a branch of Artificial Intelligence, that tries to create tools for processing human languages for diverse applications, such as Machine Translation, Question Answering and Information Retrieval systems, to name but a few. What we try to do is to get computers use human languages in the same way (or better than how) humans use them.

Purpose of your last research visit:

During my so far two research stays at Siegen University’s Ubiquitous Computing Lab, I have been collaborating with Professor Van Laerhoven Kristof to build a technology that enables the deaf community to document their Sign Languages. Together, we have been trying to harness the power of science and technology to improve the lives of an underserved segment of society, namely deaf and hard of hearing people. Our research will (i) result in tools and resources that will improve deaf people’s access to STEM education, in particular, and (ii) help create a barrier-free society.

Relation to the University of Siegen and/or to the local host:

I got to know Kristof’s work when I read one of his publications which examined the possibility of using sensors in sign language recognition. While reading it I saw that we are actually trying to accomplish very similar things from different perspectives. I strongly believe that interdisciplinary research is key to future scientific breakthroughs.

Future projects / Activities:

My research collaboration with Professor Van Laerhoven has been very exciting and fruitful. Professor Van Laerhoven and I have recently been awarded the BMBF German-African Innovation Incentive Prize for our joint work “Africa-Sign: A crowd-sourcing platform for the Documentation of STEM terms in African Languages”. This will allow us to use the funding to expand the horizons of our new project. We will, of course, sustain this collaboration, not only between our institutions, but also with other institutions in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and four other African institutions based in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Impressions of Siegen:

Before I came to Siegen, I had been at universities in much bigger cities in Germany and the United States. At first, it did not seem like Siegen had as much to offer. But then I discovered that behind the trees here, there is a paradise. I started discovering the beauty of Siegen. At weekends, we would take the train to visit the surrounding landscape and really have the chance to enjoy the Siegerland’s incredible landscapes. The city itself and the University of Siegen are also rapidly developing. There is also a lot of industry here, with many giant companies manufacturing heavy machinery and other technologies for several international clients.