Faculty Exchange Gives an Intellectual and Cultural Enriching Experience

Vítor Grade 

Vitor Grade Tavares, professor at the Faculdade de Engenharia from Universidade do Porto (FEUP) and senior researcher at INESC Porto, spent the 2010 Fall Semester at the Carnegie Mellon University, participating in the Faculty Exchange Program, launched by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program. He has called the experience “enlightening.”

During his stay, Tavares had the opportunity to teach a few lectures of 18-623, a graduate course on Analog Integrated Circuit Design. The class is regularlarly taught by Larry Pileggi, Tanoto Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “From the teaching experience it was possible to understand the common practices and course organization at this level,” says Tavares. Tavares is the Portuguese principal investigator of the new research project called SELF-PVP: Self-organizing power management for photo-voltaic power plants. This project presents a line of research that aims to achieve at least 15% increase in power efficiency in a photovoltaic (PV) power plant, using a novel, distributed, real time and on-line, adaptive network controller of sensors/actuators to bring optimality to the overall power output of the panels’ array. His stay at the Carnegie Mellon University coincided with the project kickOff, so he had “several meetings to redefine the strategy and to start the preliminary studies.” This project also involves two faculty members from Carnegie Mellon, Shawn Blanton and Peter Steenkiste.

Tavares also worked closely with a dual degree Ph.D. student in developing his doctoral thesis. To this end he had regular weekly meetings with the student and his advisors Miguel Coimbra, from the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (FCUP), and Xin Li from Carnegie Mellon in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. With this experience Tavares hopes to strengthen his current level of cooperation with Carnegie Mellon University as well as apply new practices upon his return to Portugal." He says that the exchange is “difficult to handle from a family perspective, but it is a highly intellectual and cultural enriching experience.”

February, 2011