by Janice Hamilton
When Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Rachida Dssouli came
to Concordia last June from the Université de Montréal,
she didnt come alone. Three PhD students and a masters student
made the move with her, and five more graduate students plan to come in
the near future.
Dssouli modestly suggests that the attraction may not lie in her teaching
abilities and quiet charm. Students are attracted by the research
domain, she said in an interview.
The subject matter of her research is conformance testing, or testing
of software systems in order to improve quality. Our focus is automation:
how to derive tests automatically, how to apply tests to the end product,
and how to analyze test results and declare that the end product is conforming
to its standard.
She is involved in industrial research projects with France Telecom and
Bell Universities Laboratory. Both contracts are currently up for renewal,
and she hopes to hear good news about them soon. The France Telecom project
focuses on protocol design and validation, while the Bell project looks
at e-commerce applications and performance testing.
If the Bell contract is approved, it will be worth $142,000 a year, plus
matching funds from NSERC for two more years. Dssouli will coordinate
the Bell project, while associate professor Ferhat Khendek will be in
charge of the France Telecom project. It brings a $100,000 grant per year
for pure research, but Dssouli says its main significance is that the
Concordia team is seen as a key partner in research and development by
Bridging research and practice
Dssouli likes working with industry, and says one of Concordias
great strengths is its ability to bridge the gap between research theory
and practical applications.
We need people who can do research from a theoretical point of view
and apply this research to practical problems that face industry every
day, she said. If we understand the problems, we can bring
them to the theoretical field and try to find solutions, rather
than just patching them up.
She is also an experienced conference organizer and hopes to raise Concordias
visibility by holding workshops and conferences. She and Khendek organized
a conference in September. The Concordia Prestigious Workshop on Communication
Software Engineering brought together well-known academic and industry
researchers from Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Communication software combines
telecommunication networks and software engineering, both fields at the
heart of information technology and the Internet.
The pair are currently editing a special issue of the journal Information
and Technology Software that will describe the university and feature
about 10 reviewed papers from the conference.
Asked about her background, Dssouli said, I grew up in Morocco,
on the Mediterranean Sea, and I did my studies in France. In 1981
she received a Doctorat dUniversité from Université
Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, where her group was the second in the world
(after the Japanese) to build a computer network connected by fiber optic
She and her husband then came to Canada, and she got a PhD in computer
science from the Université de Montreal in 1987, studying protocol
networks with Dr. Gregor von Bochmann. Over the years she has taught in
Morocco and at the Université de Sherbrooke, and she spent a sabbatical
year with Nortel.
Recently she realized it was time for a change and decided to move to
Concordia where she will have new opportunities to collaborate and build
a new research group. People working in electrical engineering and
computing should work together to face challenges in telecommunication,