Data Research Engineer in Digital Humanities

WorkplaceLausanne, Lake Geneva region, Switzerland

EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, is one of the most dynamic university campuses in Europe and ranks among the top 20 universities worldwide. The EPFL employs more than 6,500 people supporting the three main missions of the institution: education, research and innovation. The EPFL campus offers an exceptional working environment at the heart of a community of more than 17,000 people, including over 12,500 students and 4,000 researchers from more than 120 different countries.

The Data Research Engineer will work at the CDH-DHI, for the Lausanne Time Machine Project. This initiative is organized into parallel projects that focus on different aspects of the territory, sharing common methodologies, technologies, and standards. It also includes projects for the redocumentation of spatial databases, which are currently incompatible with contemporary information systems.
The projects aim to reconstruct data structures on historical maps and population. To do this, projects on historical cartography and demographic sources such as censuses and civil status are being developed primarily. Iconographic sources are also of considerable interest. Historical documents are being analyzed by applying specific and novel computational extraction methods.
The Lausanne Time Machine initiative also aims to encourage young researchers to propose research topics and to enhance the value of studies carried out during their thesis or postdoctoral projects. Ongoing research and results already obtained can be the subject of training courses and seminars. In the context of a joint EPFL-Unil course entitled Digital Urban History: The Lausanne Time Machine, running since 2020, student project works are published online and some datasets can be reused for your own research.
The Time Machine Unit is an interdisciplinary group involved in extracting, aggregating, publishing, and analysing historical data. We deploy digital methodologies and heuristics to shape big data approaches to historical research. The goals of the project include facilitating access to historical information through simulation and modelling of the past.

Your mission :

The Time Machine Unit possesses various datasets and documentary collections intended for online accessibility by both the research and public communities. These datasets encompass not only Lausanne but also extend to other cities such as Venice and Paris. Our primary objective involves establishing a web-based platform facilitating access to data sourced from these projects. Additionally, our ongoing efforts are focused on completing the development and launching of a cartographic annotation software. Another key mission entails the creation of a geographic metadata aggregator derived from our collaboration with the Europeana portal. These endeavors, including finalizing the annotation software and consolidating Europeana data, will be conducted in close collaboration with fellow team members: a web developer, a computer science engineer, and a historian.

Main duties and responsibilities include :

  • Design and implement scalable data pipelines to convert, cleanse, integrate, and consolidate data extracted for display in a platform and for sharing.
  • This includes defining appropriate data structures, models and formats for source documents and enrichments, as well as developing large-scale processing workflows.
  • Manage, document, and release code modules and datasets.
  • Engage in participative interface and API design with project team and partners.
  • Contribute to the organisation of annotation and evaluation campaigns
  • Contribute to the organisation of project workshops on the development and adoption of standards for the representation and dissemination of historical data (raw material and annotations).
  • Initiate and/or contribute to scientific publications on data releases, processing, and standards (and more topics if interested).

Your profile :
  • An experienced research data engineer (2-4 years) or programmer with an interest in history and cultural heritage
  • A degree in computer science, data science, software engineering, digital humanities, or a related field (master or PhD), or equivalent professional experience.
  • Proficiency in: Python; JavaScript/HTML/CSS; PhP; geocoding and "Leaflet-; IIIF framework; Unix-based operating systems; database development and use
  • Good understanding of the principles of machine learning.
  • Willingness to write good documentation.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Strong collaborative and team spirit.
  • Autonomous and accountable with a proactive approach.
  • Efficient, committed to deadlines and concerned with production readiness.
  • Knowledge of French (mandatory), English (preferred)
  • Comfortable in an international and multi-cultural context.

We offer :
  • Opportunity to join an experienced and highly motivated interdisciplinary team conducting innovative and relevant research at the intersection of computer science and humanities research.
  • Applied research framework: what you will develop will be deployed in production and directly used by the community of researchers.
  • Work in an interdisciplinary team at the intersection of History, Computer Sciences, Urban History, Digital Humanities
  • Publishing with top international teams and journals
  • Flexible working hours and teleworking.
  • Located in Lausanne, Switzerland, EPFL has a highly international environment, state-of-the-art research facilities, and is consistently ranked among the world’s leading institutions in scientific research. Lausanne is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city center in a unique natural environment with great outdoor activities (Jura, Alps, Lake Leman). Salaries and benefits are internationally competitive.

Start date :
February 2024

Term of employment :
Fixed-term (CDD)

Work rate :

Duration :
1-year contract potentially renewable

Remark : Only candidates who applied through EPFL website or our partner Jobup-s website will be considered. Files sent by agencies without a mandate will not be taken into account.

Reference :
Job Nb 3197

In your application, please refer to and reference JobID 63094.

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