Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program welcomes students to the new academic year with the 2017 Orientation Day

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The CMU Portugal Program held its annual Orientation Day event on September 30, to welcome the new students and to allow the community to share experiences and network, while having fun. Almost 20 guests participated in the day-long activities that began close to the Douro river, included a tram car and a 5D Movie experiences and ended at INESC TEC.

The day started, as is the format of the Orientation Day, with a recreational activity, that this year took place at the Museu do Carro Eléctrico, a museum dedicated to Porto’s public electric trams, detailing their history and evolution to the present day. It started with an introduction to the participants, followed by a visit with a knowledgeable museum’s tour guide that ended with a tram ride along the scenic river-side.

Yet another activity was planned, one to give students the “birds’ eye view” of the city: a 5D movie experience, featuring a sightseeing tour of Porto from a bird’s perspective, with dynamic motion seats and sensations like water spray, wind and aromas, accompanying a 10-minute 3D film.

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The day continued at INESC TEC, located in the campus of the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP), where lunch was served in a casual buffet-style, so that all could network before the afternoon sessions.

Starting the second part of the day, a brief welcoming session by Professor João Claro and Sara Brandão took place with an overview of its history and its instruments, and ended with a presentation on student matters, dedicated to the new members of the community. The session also had a brief introduction of Professor Rodrigo Rodrigues, from Instituto Superior Técnico, as one of those responsible for the Program’s next phase.

To address the experience of the dual degree doctoral students, a panel of two current Ph. D. students, Luís Pinto (ECE) and Manuel Loureiro (EPP), and alumna Carla Costa (TCE) held an interactive session with all participants. They shared their dual program experiences, to give the new students an idea of what a doctoral degree spanning two continents can be like. First, Luís and Manuel talked about their experience so far, and Carla talked about the memories of her doctorate, from a personal point of view. Then, they opened the floor to questions from the audience, where the group talked about their concerns and challenges, in what was an opportunity for sharing and connecting over a common journey.

The last session of the day focused on the Alumni Chapter of the Ph. D. students and the Master students’ programs and was presented by their representatives, Ricardo Marques and Miguel Duarte, respectively. They shared the stories of the communities, groups that offer support in many ways to students and graduates, and keeps the bond among all that have participated in the educational programs.

The achieved goal of the event was to give the opportunity to the students to learn more about the partnership, its education programs, and also about the Alumni Chapter.

The orientation day event has become a tradition of the CMU Portugal Program, perhaps the most informal of the Program’s event calendar but also one of the most valued. The balance of the day with, on one hand, experiencing the recreational activities and sharing moments and on the other hand, being briefed on the program in a light way and in a relaxed environment, is appreciated by all involved.

This day is often the kick-off of activities for dual degree Ph.D. students, that typically spend two years in CMU and three years in Portugal, during their doctorate. This a demanding time for students, with a tight academic schedule and many professional challenges, designed to stimulate growth in all areas. With this welcome, the leadership and staff try to adjust expectations and direct students to the Program’s assets in supporting them in this phase, such as the alumni, both directly and through their chapters.

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October 2017