The Partnership Brings Researchers Closer to Industry

Mário Alberto Zenha Rela

Since its inception in 2006, the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program has increased the connection between academic and industrial communities in key focused areas of information and communication technologies. One of the results of this partnership is DognÆdis, a start-up founded by Mário Zenha-Rela, faculty, and Francisco Rente, a Ph.D. student at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra (FCTUC).

"The most fundamental role of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program was the mindset change, as this partnership brought us much closer to industry," says Mário Zenha-Rela adding that "before this program much of the faculty activities were centered on research and kept inside the University, and this partnership was designed to break that vicious circle." Zenha-Rela spent the fall 2007 at Carnegie Mellon and felt it was a stimulating experience in regards to science, technical, management and pragmatic approaches. Zenha-Rela says his "experience of working with some of the world's top experts," combined "with the Portuguese easiness with different cultures and practices made this jump into industry almost natural."

On the other hand, Zenha-Rela is one of the professors involved in the dual degree professional master in Software Engineering (MSE), taught at FCTUC and Carnegie Mellon University. The creation of this professional master, within the partnership, encouraged faculty to look for industry support. Zenha-Rela indicated that by participating as a faculty member in the MSE program made him aware of multiple industrial practices.

DognÆdis, a portmanteau of "Dognitas," meaning "quality," and "dis," meaning place, space or temple in Latin, is a start-up focused on security audit and consultancy, software assurance, and business continuity support. In the beginning of 2011, this start-up launched a security expert review software that is a code verifier of potencial security flaws at the source code level. The DognÆdis team designed "the tool to be integrated into a standard software development cycle." Zenha-Rela says "when a potential security breach is detected, a 'trouble-ticket' is sent to the quality or project manager with specific suggestions on how to fix it." Even inexperienced programmers can develop secure code, especially for web applications. Part of this technology will be deployed under a "freemium" model, which means that a free version will be available on the web.

DognÆdis’ second product is a security appliance, a monitoring agent that is deployed inside local networks triggering alarms when suspicious activity (both from internal and external threats) is detected. "While there are already several identical systems, we think that our innovations will make a difference," says Zenha-Rela.

Currently, DognÆdis is working in two directions: to create partnerships abroad (Brazil, Angola, Dubai), and to develop other products using state-of-art technology. Zenha-Rela says that "since we have a very strong research background, the point is selecting wisely the ideas to pursue further, not lack of them."

March 2011