Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program Projects Receive Excellent First Year Reviews

May 19-20, 2010

[full report in pdf]

project review 2010

Summary

"The panel reviewed 10 projects that broadly fall within the scope of ICT. The projects are generally in the area of systems (CS), and they are conducive to being accomplished in reasonable time.

The projects seem timely with respect to the current state of research in Portugal, in two critical aspects. The research within Portugal in the areas of the projects is very strong. The review committee was very impressed by the strength of the Portuguese researchers in the projects that were reviewed. Indeed, the strength of the Portuguese teams has ensured that the projects have been genuinely collaborative.

Carnegie Mellon is generally world-class in the areas covered by the projects, and so they allow Portuguese researchers to experience best practices in systems development as it is done at Carnegie Mellon University. In particular, due to the strengths across both sides of the Atlantic, the projects are ripe for collaboration that is sensitively tuned to the subtleties that distinguish world-class research. There is indeed strong evidence of collaboration between Portuguese institutions and Carnegie Mellon University.

In many projects, the Portuguese teams have access to Portuguese data (hospital data, employment tables, datasets of mobile operators) of the sort that is not easily available elsewhere. This data is tailored to Portuguese conditions and it is therefore expected that the ensuing results of the research will be ultimately most beneficial to Portugal. The availability of such data is also an attraction to Carnegie Mellon researchers.

The industrial partners in the projects, mostly from Portugal, are more strongly involved in the projects than one would have expected be expected, since such industrial interactions are hard to foster in a short timeframe. This speaks to the strength of the already existing Portuguese research. Several projects also found new industrial partners after they started. The industrial partners are both contributing to the projects and benefitting from them. Out systems, for example, is at exactly the right stage of their development for the INTERFACES project. Novabase is very committed to the AEMINIUM project. Portuguese hospitals are interested in the VitalResponder technologies. LOGICA is investing in a new research lab in Madeira connected to the SINAIS project. BioDevices is developing their next product using technology developed under the VitalResponder project. In other instances, even non-Portugal based companies have contributed Portuguese data to the project, e.g., Vodafone.

A unique aspect of the Portugal–Carnegie Mellon collaboration is the role of the dual-degree Ph.D. programs. This is a great strength of the program, since it ensures that post-graduate students are primed with the best practices. It furthermore induces deeper collaboration between post-graduate students and Carnegie Mellon faculty. The students experience the world-class environment at Carnegie Mellon, while being solidly grounded in Portuguese institutions. About 2/3 of the overall Carnegie Mellon | Portugal project funding is allocated for the development of human resources (MS and Ph.D. students), which seems well designed and appropriate. This includes a significant number of PhD students that are not enrolled in the dual-degree Ph.D. programs, yet are deeply involved in the projects. While this review was not specifically aimed at the dual-degree program, the imprint of this was clearly visible in all the projects reviewed.

Another original aspect is the faculty exchange program, which enables deepening of the ties across the Atlantic. Carnegie Mellon faculty have visited Portuguese universities on a regular basis for periods of various durations.

There is clear evidence of genuine collaboration across projects. Most projects have very regular audio-conference meetings, which speaks to the strength of the collaboration.

The projects appear to have been carefully chosen in the call for proposals.

The review committee evaluated each project’s progress using several criteria, including the following:
   (i) The quality of the scientific research.
   (ii) The extent of the collaboration between institutions in Portugal in the project.
   (iii) The collaboration with the industrial partner or partners in Portugal. (Within this category, the review committee also included non-academic institutions such as hospitals, etc..).
   (iv) The collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and Portuguese institutions in the project.
   (v) The potential of the project to bring about lasting impact in Portugal.

For each project the review committee also sought to provide feedback that could potentially improve the project.

We note that project participants were recused from participating in the reviews of their own projects."

Review Team:
Professor P. R. Kumar (University of Illinois), Chair
Prof. Gilles Barthe (Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies (IMDEA))

Directors:
Prof. João Barros, Director of ICTI@Portugal
Prof. José Moura, Director of ICTI@Carnegie Mellon

10 Research Projects:

     - Aeminium - Freeing Programmers from the Shackles of Sequentiality
     - DRIVE-IN – Distributed Routing and Infotainment through Vehicular Inter-Networking
     - Human Capital, Knowledge Based Firms, and the Entrepreneurial Life-Cycle
     - INTERFACES - Certified Interfaces for Integrity and Security in Extensible Web-based Applications
     - PT-STAR - Speech Translation Advanced Research to and from Portuguese
     - REAP.PT - Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) Reading Practice (REAP.PT)
     - SINAIS – Sustainable Interaction with social Networks, context Awareness and Innovative Services
     - Technology, Management and Policy for the Telecommunications Industry
     - Vital Responder - Monitoring Stress among First Responder Professionals
     - WESP: Weaving Together Technology Innovation with Human and Policy Considerations