Close this search box.

CMU Portugal “Building bridges across the Atlantic” at Encontro Ciência 2023

The Encontro Ciência 2023 Summit took place July 5th to 7th, 2023, featuring the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, and the Minister of Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato. The event is the central Science Conference in Portugal promoted by the Ministry of Science Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) along with Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). 

During the Opening Ceremony on July 5th, the Prime Minister bestowed Medals of Scientific Merit upon both national and foreign individuals who have made remarkable contributions to the advancement of science and the fostering of scientific culture in Portugal. One of the esteemed recipients was Manuela Veloso, a distinguished computer scientist and AI researcher, who has been an integral part of the CMU Portugal faculty since the partnership’s inception in 2006. 

Manuela Veloso speech at Opening Session: 1.21.30 

In the afternoon, the CMU Portugal Program hosted the “FCT International Partnerships: Building bridges across the Atlantic” session in collaboration with the MIT Portugal Program (MPP) and UT Austin PortugalThis year, the three international partnerships joined forces to promote a discussion on the far-reaching impact of the FCT GO Portugal collaborations with US institutions.

To showcase the remarkable accomplishments spanning nearly two decades of existence, these partnerships have collaborated on creating an overview video that offers a glimpse into their key outcomes. These include promoting the internationalization of Portuguese scientific and higher education institutions to boost the competitiveness of Portuguese companies and facilitating the mobility and development of highly skilled individuals.

The first panel began with an open discussion involving stakeholders from the three Programs. Each discussion was moderated by a director from the respective partnerships, ensuring a well-rounded exploration of the Program’s impact.

Nuno Nunes, CMU Portugal Program Director, opened the discussion starting by inviting Petia Georgieva, an Associate Professor with Habilitation of Machine Learning at the University of Aveiro, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Electronics Engineering and Telematics of Aveiro (IEETA), as a distinguished guest. Georgieva was a CMU Portugal visiting faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, having spent time at both the Silicon Valley and Pittsburgh campuses. During her testimony, she referred to her time at CMU as a “game-changing experience”. During her mobility visit, she was hosted by Tom Mitchell, a well-renowned computer scientist and the Founders University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and former Chair of the Machine Learning Department at CMU.

“It was a transformative moment in my life. Thanks to my experience at CMU and under the guidance of Tom Mitchell, I acquired the necessary knowledge to pioneer the launch of Machine Learning and AI courses at Universidade de Aveiro. To this day, I am recognized within my university for this significant contribution.” Petia Georgieva

Pedro Arezes, MIT Portugal Director, and MPP Ph.D. alum Eunice Costa represented the MPP. Eunice currently holds a prominent role as the leader of the Research & Development area of Inhalation and Advanced Drug Delivery at Hovione. During her intervention, she emphasized the significant impact of her MPP Ph.D. and her experience at MIT, highlighting how her company highly regarded these achievements and was instrumental in her professional growth. From UT Austin Portugal, the program’s Co-Director, Rui Oliveira, joined forces with Jorge Sá Silva, Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (DEEC) of FCTUC and a Researcher at INESC Coimbra.  Jorge shared his experience and insights gained through their involvement with the UT Austin Portugal Program, highlighting its profound impact on his professional pathways.

Transitioning to the project presentations, the second panel brought together representatives from research consortia funded through international partnerships.

Inês Lynce, the National Co-Director of CMU Portugal, Doug Hart, the Co-Director of the MIT Portugal Program at MIT, and Rui Oliveira, the National Co-Director of UT Austin Portugal, showcased the projects and initiatives undertaken by their respective programs. Their presentations encapsulated the essence of the partnerships, demonstrating their commitment to driving innovation and fostering collaboration between Portuguese and US institutions.

The round of presentations started with Carlos Viegas,  one of the researchers that led the CMU Portugal Project Safeforest. Carlos Viegas holds the position of Invited Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Coimbra, where he also serves as the head of the Field Tech Laboratory of ADAI.   His research focuses on developing cutting-edge technological solutions in autonomous robots, remote sensing, mechatronics, and fire engineering. In addition to his academic achievements, Carlos Viegas is also the Co-Founder and Manager of three technology-based spinoff companies: Bold Robotics, Lda., Hazred Lda., and Sim4Safety Lda.

During his presentation, Carlos Viegas highlighted the work accomplished under the Safeforest, a CMU Portugal Large Scale Collaborative Project. This initiative was led by the company Ingeniarius, in partnership with SILVAPOR, ADAI, ISR from Universidade de Coimbra, and CMU. Its primary objective is to revolutionize forest wildfire prevention by developing an advanced robotic system to prevent wildland and wildland-urban interface fires.

Leveraging on the opportunities for interaction and research advancement, Carlos Viegas highlighted the strengths of this partnership to drive innovation: 

“It has been a highly collaborative endeavor, combining efforts from both academia and industry in a multidisciplinary project. The full commitment of all teams involved in Portugal and CMU, led by George Kantor, the Project PI in the US, enabled us to achieve the project’s ambitious goals. Through more than 11 research visits spanning Portugal and CMU, we have had abundant opportunities to foster meaningful interactions and propel our research to new heights. This partnership has enabled us to harness the very best from both sides, unlocking the full potential of our collective expertise and presenting state-of-the-art technical solutions to address the global problem of wildfires.” – Carlos Viegas

The session featured two other project presentations: Eduardo Pereira (University of Minho) presented the MPP flagship project K2D – Knowledge and Data from the Deep to Space, which is developing a system for monitoring the oceans on a global scale. And Tiago Hormigo from the company Spin.Works, introduced the UT Austin Portugal project uPGRADE, which focused on how the water moves on the Earth’s near-surface at a regional scale.

After the presentations, the Co-Directors of the international partnerships moderated a brief discussion on the impact and contribution of the US partner institutions to the projects. The discussion focused on the results of the projects and offered a look into the future of these collaborations.

Additionally, CMU Portugal had three posters exhibited at the Poster Session with great examples of the research work being led by its candidates under their Ph.D.:

More about Encontro Ciência 2023.

The overview video of the FCT International Partnerships is available on CMU Portugal Youtube.