“We are impressed especially by the way the program has secured strong engagement from industry in Portugal.”
More than 100 people attended the External Review Meetings of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program this year. The event was held in Lisbon, at Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau, between January 9 and 10, 2012. Sir John O’Oreilly, Vice-Chancellor of the Cranfield University, United Kingdom, the chairman of the External Review Committee (ERC), expressed that the Committee “have been impressed with the way this partnership program has developed,” adding that “the quality of researchers and students attracted to the programme is very high.”
Every year the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program is evaluated by the External Review Committee whose role is to analyze a report by the Directors, hold several meetings with researchers, students, alumni and entrepreneurs, and report on the progress of the partnership towards achieving its goals in terms of cutting edge research, advanced training, internationalization and collaboration among the various players, in particular Portuguese universities, Carnegie Mellon, and industry in Portugal.
The External Review Committee is formed by Sir John O'Reilly, Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University United Kingdom, Chairman, Luigia Aiello, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Rome, Italy, and Tariq Durrani, University of Strathclyde Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. During two days, the Committee saw presentations on research highlights of projects with companies and end users, spoke with more than 70 faculty, students and alumni, and had the opportunity to listen to entrepreneurs that are engaged in the Program. (agenda available here)
The Chairman of the External Review Committee considers that “the program has broken new ground in terms of international interactions and engagement. The 'architecture' established for the program allowed sufficient scope for adjustment and improvement, and this has been exercised beneficially.” Sir John O’Reilly believes that “there have been gains in terms of standard and standing of research and educational programs but a very major benefit is the level of industrial engagement the partnership has stimulated and enabled.”
| ||Interview with Sir John O’Reilly |
Question (Q): How do you assess the work carried out within the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program so far?
Answer (A): We have been impressed with the way this partnership program has developed. The quality of researchers and students attracted to the programme is very high. Research and research outputs of high quality are resulting in publications in leading research journals. We are impressed especially by the way the program has secured strong engagement from industry in Portugal. In our meetings the value that this is delivering to the companies was confirmed by the industrial participants we met with. I would say that world class research is taking place and the nature and depth of the 3-way collaboration (universities and industry in Portugal with Carnegie Melon University) can be described as world leading.
Q: What kind of impact do you consider that this program has had on the Portuguese economy and on the higher education community?
A: The program has led to the development of the 'essential infrastructure' for collaboration in research and education which has been of clear benefit to participating faculty members/departments in Portugal. The scale of industrial participation and the 'real world' character of the research projects have been of great benefit to the companies. The program has also already generated a number of spin outs with potential to develop to the benefit of the economy in Portugal.
Q: What can be expected from this program in the near future?
A: The program has produced a number of cohorts from the professional masters dual degrees which are in industry in Portugal and have been described by company representatives as both contributing directly to company projects and also acting as 'change agents'. We are about to see the first of the Ph.D. cohorts completing. We can expect these to make a similarly distinctive contribution both to industry and academia in Portugal.
Q: Why is this partnership important?
A: It has been and is valuable/important in a number of ways: raising the standing and profile of Portuguese faculty internationally, further advancing ICT research and related education against the highest level internationally; enabling young researchers in Portugal to 'self calibrate' against the highest international standards and enhance their expectations of themselves. And it has led to a far greater and more productive engagement between universities and industry than was achieved previously.
Q: What is the role of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program External Review Committee?
A: Our role has been to review against our experience of international class research and PG education and provide suggestions and feedback to stimulate further development within the program. The leadership has responded well to this. For participant faculty and departments this has been 'game changing' we feel. Departments and individual faculty have raised their sights and are achieving against these raised expectations/aspirations. It is a journey started with good progress made but not yet completed.
Q: From your experience in reviewing committees, and as a consultant for the UK government and CE, what do you think about this partnership for a country like Portugal?
A: The progress made is impressive. I see this as a result of the Nature of the program, the intimacy of the engagement - and the degree of commitment that has come from Carnegie Mellon University faculty has been crucial. Precisely because Portugal is a relatively small country/economy the coupling to a leading university in a major world economy has been all the more valuable.
Q: How important is it that the Portuguese government renews the partnership?
A: An excellent start has been made and much has been achieved but to realize the benefits of the investment made to date there needs to be a second phase, in which plotting and progressing along a path towards sustainability must feature strongly.
The Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program was launched at the end of 2006 as a five year partnership between 9 Portuguese universities (Aveiro, Católica Portuguesa, Coimbra, Madeira, Minho, Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, Porto, Técnica de Lisboa) and research institutions, Portuguese companies, and Carnegie Mellon University under the support of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). The program targets basic research and educational activities in focused areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), including fundamental technologies methodologies, applications and support sciences, as well as associated issues of managing technological change and development of related public policies. Its mission is to create new knowledge in key focused areas of information and communications technologies by means of cutting-edge research, world-class graduate education, and a close connection with Portuguese Industry, thus placing Portugal at the forefront of Science and Innovation.
At the end of five years the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program can claim success in many of its initial ambitious goals:
· Strong educational and research relations have been established with nine Portuguese Universities and associated Research Institutions;
· Eighty-two companies participate actively in different research activities and graduate education programs (more information available here );
· Over 30 collaborative research projects producing science and technology of the highest international standards have been or are carried out, each led by a consortium of research groups of at least two different Portuguese institutions, one or more research groups at CMU, and one or more companies, providing innovative solutions for relevant research and societal challenges. In most cases, these projects leveraged research endeavors at Portuguese Institutions and at CMU leading to a multiplicative effect in terms of research activity and impact in significant areas of ICT (more information available here );
· Approximately 270 students have been recruited internationally and are enrolled in the dual degree educational programs. These students will strengthen the Portuguese labor force with highly trained experts and the faculty of Portuguese Universities and Research Institutions with pools of new talent;
· Ten dual degree Ph.D. Programs targeting areas of primary relevance to ICT in Portugal were established between 15 Portuguese university departments and 11 CMU Departments, offering technical, policy, and business breadth, while promoting and training future leaders in ICT. These dynamic programs replicate the best practices of graduate programs in top American Universities.
· Five dual degree Professional Masters Programs were launched in partnership between four CMU Departments and four Universities in Portugal, serving multiple purposes: educating and training high quality professionals in highly technological areas and reinforcing the work force in ICT related areas, while providing an essential building block for Portuguese partner universities to extend their offer of first-rate quality programs and enhance their connections to the private sector;
· Over 200 Portugal faculty and senior researchers have been intimately involved in activities of the Program with up to 31 Portugal faculty members having participated in faculty exchange stays of at least one term at CMU. They are in their own ways agents promoting change and adopting many of the best practices they experienced as part of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program (more information available here );
· 61 new faculty members in the ICT areas have been recruited and have been working in partner universities in Portugal (more information available here );
· The Program promoted a new generation of technology-based companies in the telecom, software, and related areas with five companies started by faculty or students as a direct result of their activities in the Program (more information available here ).