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AHMED ATAHRAN - Ph.D. in Information Science

What is your professional / educational background and what is your Ph.D. Topic?
My university studies:
2001 – 2003 High school diploma, math and science, the high school Abdelkarim El Khattabi, Nador, Morocco;
2001 – 2003 Two year degree in Math and Physics, University Abdelmalek Essaadi, in Tangiers, Morocco;
2004 – 2006 Bachelor's degree in Statistics and Information Science, University Abdelmalek Essaadi, in Tangiers, Morocco;
2006 – 2008 Master's in Computer Engineering, ENSIAS, Rabat, Morocco;
2008 – 2009 Master's in Banking and Financial Econometrics, University of the Mediterranean, Aix-Marseille, France;
2009 – 2012 Ph.D. in Information Science, University François Rabelais of Tours

My dissertation topic is entitled, “Study and Resolution of a Transportation Problem with Multi- criterial Requests”. It deals with the routes of vehicles dedicated to transportation by request. The context has many criteria because several criteria need to be taken into account simultaneously: the first is to minimize the cost of transportation; the second is to minimize passenger dissatisfaction; and finally the last criteria is to minimize the amount of CO2 emitted by the vehicles. Multi- objective optimization methods were developed in order to solve this problem.

How has the Ph.D. process been for you?
My dissertation was divided into 50% of my time in industry and 50% of my time in a Computer Science laboratory. In general, the three years of my dissertation went quickly, and in good conditions, but with some difficult periods as well; mostly due to the fact that at the company where I worked I did not work on my dissertation, which increased the pressure from both sides (the company where I worked and the pressure of writing my dissertation). But I was fortunate to have my dissertation advisers who supported my efforts through the three years.

What have you learned from this experience?
My Ph.D. allowed me to deepen my understanding in different areas related to Information Technology, as well as to participate in national and international conferences, to learn how to write scientific articles. On a professional level, I learned a lot about the working environment in industry, notably teamwork and project management.

What advice would you give to a student who was considering a Ph.D.?
Before engaging in a 50% industry, 50% dissertation Ph.D. (CIFRE), notably if you work for a smaller company, make sure that the company is interested in your dissertation topic and that it does not simply want to hire a highly-qualified worker to perform tasks unrelated to the dissertation. For the student who wants to do a Ph.D., first choose a good research topic and be sure the adviser is well-known in the area of the dissertation; it is also very important to be patient.