Overview

The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) seeks an experienced researcher with a background in speech technology engineering, network systems, information systems, software engineering, data science, or similar to assume a key role in helping to help fulfil the objectives of the innovation and expansion component of the Horizon 2020 GrassrootsWavelengths project (nº780890), funded by the European Commission.

Brief description of the work plan:
The successful candidate will work under the supervision of European Research Area Chair Prof. Chris Csikszentmihályi and Prof. Dr. Simone Ashby. S/he will be responsible for: using web extraction, database building, and grapheme-to-phoneme conversion techniques to develop linguistic resources for European Portuguese, Irish, and Romanian; scraping and consolidating texts and doing linguistic analysis from the internet; developing new ICT resources in cooperation with the project’s community action/participatory design effort; and integrating TTS technologies and ICT components into the existing RootIO (rootio.org) architecture. While the emphasis of this work is in speech technology, a candidate with strong general technical skills would be able to learn many of the domain-specific approaches on the job.
The position is suited to candidates with strong programming abilities, a public history of contributing to free/open software projects, and an interest in developing audio and voice user interfaces. The candidate must be comfortable working on complex projects with evolving objectives and will be expected to be a proactive, independent problem solver and innovator, and facilitate collaboration within a broad network of colleagues across disciplines and for engagement with the wider international Grassroot Wavelengths community. S/he will have the opportunity to produce original collaborative research and joint publications with other members of the network, as well as generous funding for travel to partner sites, and for attending conferences and workshops.

Project description:
The Grassroot Wavelengths project will create a game-changing network of inclusive digital platforms for citizen engagement, community deliberation, and the free flow of information within, into, and out of discrete geographic communities by piloting solutions for connected, inexpensive, community owned and operated radio across Europe. Our approach Civic Media, born and developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and now based in Madeira, includes community-based participatory design methods for setting up stations and services and understanding the processes in which they will be used and appropriated, along with an emphasis on synthetic speech to support the curation of audio content, thus turning data into media. Building on the success of the existing RootIO platform – with its proven commons-oriented technology and catalytic capacities for promoting/enabling collective awareness and action, participatory innovation, community resilience, and media pluralism – we will: deploy and test a network of low-power community radio stations in Ireland, Portugal, and Romania; work with community groups, journalists, and public good experts to develop a robust platform for expansion across Europe; enhance use and accessibility of networked community radio through text-to-speech, community oriented programming applications, and other community-supported modes for contributing and managing content); and work within the EU framework to establish a public support infrastructure for local ownership and revenue generation. Together, these four actions combine to form a robust and tested platform with a clear path to scaling and exploitation in Europe and beyond.

Notes:
• The selection process will be based on the principle of non-discrimination in respect of gender, age, nationality, religion, racial group, or any other possible discriminatory issue. Selection will be made only based on merit and following the European Charter for Researchers, the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Commission Recommendation, Brussels, 11.3.2005, 2005/251/EC) and the recommendations from the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).
• M-ITI is a recognized “refugee welcoming organization” by the European Commission, follows the European Charter for Researchers and welcomes applications from all qualified individuals.

About Madeira-ITI:
Madeira-ITI is an innovation institute and non-profit R&D organization that operates in the interdisciplinary domain of human-computer interaction (HCI) for addressing and engaging in important scientific and technological challenges that have societal relevance and impact. Madeira-ITI is one of the top HCI centers in Europe, recently evaluated as “Excellent” by Portugal’s national science foundation (FCT). Madeira itself is a small semi-autonomous island, located off the coast of Morocco with a quarter of a million people, an awe-inspiring landscape, and an average year-round temperature of 21º degrees.

Person specification:Candidates for this position should fill in the following requirements:

  • MSc or PhD in in network/electrical engineering, computer science, data/communications science, or a related field;
  • Minimum 3 years of software development experience;
  • Deep knowledge of a programming language (Python, C++) in a Linux environment;
  • Strong understanding of data structures, algorithms and communication protocol;
  • Ability to write quality, production level code;
  • Good knowledge of popular version control tools (git, mercurial) and history of contribution to free/open projects;
  • Data preparation and databases;
  • Experience with web data extraction (i.e. scraping);
  • Knowledge of client/server architectures and Web development;
  • Excellent communication skills (including proficient written and spoken English);
  • Passion for analyzing data to solve problems and improve systems;
  • Willingness to relocate to Madeira, with ability to travel within Europe;
  • Technological self-starter

Preferred

  • Experience in speech synthesis or signal processing;
  • Experience with statistical parametric speech synthesis;
  • Experience with IDLAK, Kaldi, Festival;
  • Experience developing interactive voice response systems;
  • Experience with machine learning;
  • Published research in a relevant field;
  • Familiarity with Irish Gaelic, Portuguese, or Romanian is a plus;
  • Interest in audio interfaces, languages, podcasts, or radio

Work plan:
The candidate will have the following main specific responsibilities:

  • Delivering of high quality audio interface platform solutions in close collaboration with a mixed-discipline research team;
  • Transform research objectives into working solutions;
  • Developing and running experiments to identify effective solutions;
  • Communication and reporting

Legislation and regulations: The scholarships are directed to applicants under the law nº40/2004 of August 18th (Research Grant Holder Statute) and the current conditions established on the FCT regulations http://www.fct.pt/apoios/bolsas/docs/RegulamentoBolsasFCT.pdf.

Work place: The work will be conducted at Madeira­ITI (Funchal, Portugal) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Simone Ashby in collaboration with Prof. Chris Csikszentmihályi

Scholarship length: The successful candidate is expected to join M-ITI by March 2018 (or as soon thereafter as possible). The contract will be for a period of 12 months, possibly renewable up to a maximum of 36 months or till the end of the project if the deadline is less than 36 months.

Monthly stipend: The monthly stipend will be 980€ /month, tax free (Master degree) and 1495€/month, tax free (PhD degree). Stipends are according to the amounts established by FCT- Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (http://www.fct.pt/apoios/bolsas/valores.phtml.en). The social security is paid by the hiring entity.
How to apply: Candidacy term and applications form: Applications will be open from January 19 to February 18.

Applications should send by email to hr@m-iti.org with the reference “GW/780890/2018-1”:
Interested candidates should send a CV and letter of motivation (both in English), along with the names of two professional references (e-mail addresses and phone numbers) to hr@m-iti.org.

If you have any queries regarding the vacancy or the application process, please contact Cátia Jardim at catia.jardim@m-iti.org. Informal inquiries about suitability for the position are welcome and should be directed to Dr. Simone Ashby at simone.ashby@m-iti.org. The selection committee will begin reviewing applicants on 19 February 2018.

Evaluation & Selection:Candidates will be evaluated and ranked based on:
Curriculum Vitae (maximum 15 points);
Scientific/technological trajectory (maximum 15 points)
Letter of motivation (maximum 15 points)
Professional recommendations (maximum 15 points)
The five best-ranked candidates will be invited for an interview (phone/online) (maximum 40 points).

Selection committee: Prof. Dr. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, Prof. Dr. Simone Ashby, and Dr. Matthew Aylett.

Notification of results: The final results will be published through an ordered list by final note that will be posted in a visible and public place at the Madeira-ITI, being all candidates notified by email.

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