Faculty Exchange Program   

A First Step Towards Strong and Continuous Cooperation

/uploadedImages/people/faculty_exchange/Vera Miguéis.jpg  Between June and September 2014, Vera Miguéis, faculty member at Faculdade de Engenharia of the Universidade do Porto (FEUP), was at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) as part of the Faculty Exchange Program offered by the CMU Portugal Program. Her objective was two-fold, focusing both on research and education. According to Vera Miguéis, this visit constitutes a first step for identifying similar research interests and for strengthening the cooperation with CMU faculty. 

Hosted by Alan Montgomery, associate professor at Tepper School of Business, Vera Miguéis started off by working on a research project where the goal was to develop a model to estimate the frequency and the quantity of each product category found in customers' shopping carts. “For that, we analyzed data provided by a company that was used as case study. The model developed should encompass the effect of e-mail communications by considering the association between the categories included in the communications and the products available in the online shop,” Vera Miguéis explains. A topic model should be used to identify a small set of dimensions that summarizes the information contained in the full corpus of terms created through the Internet search of the products included in the e-mail communications. “Afterwards we studied the econometric models and techniques used to address this type of problem, and used text mining techniques to extract the topics underlying sets of unstructured data. The next stage consisted of defining the model to estimate the quantities purchased,” she adds.  

According to Vera Miguéis, the results revealed that despite the potential of the model specified, the data available do not make it possible to prove that the model was effective. In fact, “the data represent only one month of transactions, and that was a poor sample to support the study. For that reason, the researchers are now trying to collect further data that can be used to empirically validate the approach,” Vera Miguéis explains.  

While at CMU, this faculty member from FEUP worked with Robert Blattberg, the Timothy W. McGuire Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing at Tepper School of Business. Robert Blattberg also runs the Center for Marketing Information and Technology (CMTI), which works to bring together marketers to discuss new innovations in the marketing technology field and to predict their impact in the future marketplace. “Because we have similar research interests, we decided to develop a project where the goal is to use text mining in a marketing context. More specifically, the idea is to identify and distinguish customer feelings and attitudes towards different stores belonging to a chain of supermarkets using social media,” she describes. At this stage, the researchers are establishing contacts in order to collect relevant social media data to be used in the empirical validation of the methodology.     Vera 
During the four-month stay, Vera Miguéis also attended several seminars and was allowed to visit different schools and experience their environment. “This allowed me to get some insights about the pedagogical practices and methods used at CMU. For me, this was a very good experience both in terms of research and education, and I think that in the future I will revise some elements of my teaching method based on that particular experience,” she stresses. And what does the future hold? “I hope that in the future I can go back to CMU for short term visits to conduct some research.”  
 November 2014 


The Faculty Exchange Program is offered by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program and it allows academics from Portuguese universities to spend at least one term working in research and education at Carnegie Mellon, experiencing the culture of a top university in the United States. Carnegie Mellon professors are also given the opportunity to spend time in Portugal to engage in teaching and research activities with local higher education institutions and research labs.