CMU Portugal Program: A Model for How International Partnerships Can Work

By Ed Schlesinger*

 Ed Schlesinger 

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program (also known as Information and Communication Technologies Institute - ICTI) was and continues to be a grand international partnership. It has brought together students, faculty, and staff across multiple disciplines at Carnegie Mellon University with their counterparts across Portugal in both academia and industry. This partnership, supported and encouraged by the Government of Portugal through the Fundação para Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), has, I believe, succeeded in achieving all the goals that were originally part of the vision that was articulated when the CMU Portugal Program was founded. Moreover, it is my expectation that in the coming years as the bulk of the students begin to graduate from this program and enter the workforce in academia, industry and government and as spin off companies grow and prosper we will witness an impact exceeding even those ambitious early goals.

Since the founding of the CMU Portugal Program, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon has been a central participant in the Program. My own belief is that partnerships of this sort, in various forms, that bring together academia, government and industry whether local, regional, or as in this case international are essential for both the advancement of research and education in an engineering context and are equally essential for economic growth and development in society in the twenty-first century. It is for this reason that I have personally worked to contribute as much as I could to making this partnership a success.

It is not always easy for a partnership such as this to achieve success. Attention must be focused on challenges and issues on all fronts; the education of students, the development of joint research projects, the translation of these efforts into an impact in society through spin off companies; partnerships with existing companies and more. A vision such as this can be easier to describe broadly than to implement in detail in terms of day-to-day operations. One cannot underestimate the challenges associated with creating an academic process that allows universities with very different academic cultures or industry and academia in multiple settings to work together. Addressing policy issues associated with everything from admissions, to conflicts of interest, to academic policy, intellectual property, and more required and continues to require constant attention and stewardship. The long term commitment of the faculty, the academic leadership, the industrial and government participants has been essential and is a key element that has allowed us to work through these and other challenges and that ultimately resulted in the working structure and success we see today.

I believe that in many ways the CMU Portugal Program serves as a model for how international partnerships can work and demonstrates the benefit of such partnerships. I have no doubt that with the continued commitment of all involved CMU Portugal Program will continue to advance all the institutions and societies participating in this partnership and I look forward to seeing this in the coming years.

*Benjamin T. Rome Dean
Whiting School of Engineering
Johns Hopkins University
Formerly Head of ECE at Carnegie Mellon University

February 2014



The Op-Ed is an essay written by a member of the CMU Portugal Program Community. It is a new area/section of the CMU Portugal Program Newsletter.