Faculty Exchange Program has Empowered 43 Researchers Since its Inception

Since its beginning, about six years ago, the Faculty Exchange Program launched by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, has given researchers from Portuguese universities the opportunity to cross the ocean and carry out research and education activities at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Overall, these experiences have been very positive and enriching. Soon, six more faculty members will embrace this opportunity: three in Fall 2013, and three in Spring 2014.

More than its figures, what stands out in this program is a unique set of experiences that have deeply influenced researchers in their paths. The program, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, aims at accelerating the adoption of best practices in education, research and innovation, through immersion in the academic environment of a top university. The statements of the researchers that have benefited from this experience confirm how the program is accomplishing its mission.

“This visit was a very fruitful and enriching experience, both at the personal and at the professional levels,” stated João Costa Seco, faculty member of the Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT/UNL), and researcher at the Center of Informatics and Information Technology (CITI). From August to December 2012, João Costa Seco was at the Computer Science Department at CMU, to strengthen an active research collaboration between Frank Pfenning, from CMU, and members of the CITI research team, initiated with project Interfaces, carried out in the scope of the CMU Portugal Program.

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 Petia Georgieva, faculty member of the Universidade de Aveiro (UA), stayed at the Computer Science and Machine Learning departments at CMU, from September to December 2012. In addition to a teaching collaboration with Tom Mitchell, from CMU, Petia Georgieva advanced research that led to two papers that were recently presented at two international conferences held in Portugal.

During her stay at CMU, Marta Castilho Gomes, faculty member at Instituto Superior Técnico of the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (IST/UTL), interacted with the Process Systems Engineering (PSE) group of the Chemical Engineering Department’s Center for Advanced Process Decision-making (CAPD), the largest research group in the United States in PSE. From March 1 to May 31, 2012, Marta Castilho Gomes was able to meet with Ignacio Grossmann, faculty member at CMU, on a “weekly basis to address a research topic on scheduling of multistage batch scheduling processes.” As has happened with other participants in the Faculty Exchange Program, Marta Castilho Gomes was invited to give a seminar for Ph.D. students of the ECE Department at CMU on “How to get a Ph.D.: A Reflection and Discussion of the Ph.D. Process.” 

 
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 “My visit to Carnegie Mellon allowed me to develop my research, refine my teaching and meaningfully participate in academic service,” highlighted Ian Oakley, assistant professor at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute of the Universidade da Madeira (M-ITI/UMa), who visited the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) from August to December 2012. “The experience was inspiring, practically and culturally speaking, and I strongly recommend it to other faculty members,” he concluded.

João Costa Seco, Petia Georgieva, Marta Castilho Gomes and Ian Oakley are four of the 12 researchers that benefited from the Faculty Exchange Program in 2012. In 2011 and 2010, 14 and 11 other researchers, respectively, participated in the program.

The researchers that embrace this opportunity can spend at least one semester at a CMU department, hosted by a faculty member, and carrying out a myriad of academic activities, according to the workplan submitted to the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program leadership, as part of their application for the Faculty Exchange Program.

The activities are diverse and the results have been very concrete, including: improvements to the scientific writing process; changes in teaching methods, toward a higher focus on student learning and involvement; introduction of new and dynamic ideas to improve organization within their own departments; higher interaction with other research groups in Portugal, enabled by the relations with other participants in the program; the jump-starting of ongoing research collaborations with their peers at CMU.

The Faculty Exchange Program increased significantly the number of extended visits to CMU by Portuguese faculty members, who in the past six years have come from many different Portuguese institutions, namely: Instituto Superior Técnico of the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (IST/UTL), Universidade de Aveiro (UA), Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL), Universidade da Madeira (UMa), Universidade do Algarve (UAlg), Universidade do Porto (U.Porto), Universidade de Coimbra (UC), Universidade de Lisboa (UL), Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP), and Universidade do Minho (UMinho).

Who will be at CMU in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014?

 This Fall, Mónica Cameirão, postdoc at M-ITI, Fernando Morgado Dias, faculty member of UMa, and Vasco Miguel Nunes Manquinho, from IST/UTL, will be hosted at different departments at CMU. Mónica Cameirão will be hosted by Daniel P. Siewiorek, director of the Quality of Life Technology Center, and Buhl University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science, from August to December 2013. Fernando Morgado Dias and Vasco Miguel Nunes Manquinho, will stay at CMU between September and December 2013. Fernando Morgado Dias will be hosted by Mario Bergés from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Vasco Miguel Nunes Manquinho will be hosted by Edmund M. Clarke from the Computer Science Department.

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In Spring 2014, three more Portuguese faculty members will go to Carnegie Mellon University. Jorge Miguel Sá Silva, from the Universidade de Coimbra, will be hosted at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley by Pei Zhang from CyLab and the Information Networking Institute (INI), between January and May 2014. Pedro Sanches Amorim, faculty member of the Universidade do Porto, will be hosted by Ignacio E. Grossmann, Rudolph R. and Florence Dean University Professor of Chemical Engineering, during his stay between February and June, 2014. From March to May 2014, Joel Arrais, from the Universidade de Coimbra, will be hosted by Ziv Bar-Joseph from the Computer Science Department.

This program is a two-way experience that helps to strengthen the ties between researchers from Portugal and CMU. The Faculty Exchange Program will continue throughout Phase II of the CMU Portugal Program, as a fundamental contribution to accomplish its mission of establishing Portugal at the forefront of Science and Innovation in Information and Communication Technologies. A second call for the Faculty Exchange Program is open until September 15 2013, for stays in Spring 2014 and Fall 2014 (link to http://www.cmuportugal.org/tiercontent.aspx?id=1970).

July 2013