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From Classic Lectures to Student-Driven Classes

Faculty Exchange Program
From Classic Lectures to Student-Driven Classes

Ricardo Lopes Pereira When Ricardo Lopes Pereira, faculty member at Instituto Superior Técnico of Universidade de Lisboa (IST/UL) and a researcher at INESC-ID, decided to embark on a journey and go to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), he saw it as an opportunity “to learn new teaching methodologies, to be exposed to new research practices, and to develop contacts for future collaborations.”

Between February and June 2014, Ricardo Lopes Pereira was hosted at the Robotics Institute by Fernando de la Torre, a faculty member and researcher at CMU, who is deeply involved in the CMU Portugal Program, by leading an Entrepreneurial Research Initiative (ERI), by co-advising dual degree Ph.D. students, and by hosting faculty members from Portuguese universities.

“When I arrived at CMU, in late February, classes had already started for over a month, and so I decided that the best way to become acquainted with CMU’s teaching practices would be to attend some courses,” Ricardo Lopes Pereira states. The faculty member then selected three courses, which are similar to the ones he teaches in Portugal – “Wireless Sensor Networks,” taught by Raj Rajkumar, “Computer Networks” and “Internet Services,” taught by David R. O’Hallaron. “While attending these classes, I had the opportunity to see for myself a great variety of teaching techniques, ranging from classic lectures to student-driven classes with group discussion,” he explains.

According to Ricardo Lopes Pereira, projects were an important part of these courses, “which is consistent with what we do at IST-UL.” During his stay, he met Mario Bergés and Anthony Rowe, faculty members and researchers at CMU, who have a project on Building Automation Systems, called, which uses Wireless Sensor Networks. “I was given the opportunity to participate in this project, for which I developed a FUSE File System interface for reading sensor values and activating actuators,” he explains. This work was then presented as a non-refereed poster at the OpenBAS workshop. As a result of this work, Ricardo Lopes Pereira was invited to participate in a demo abstract titled “ A Concrete Building Automation System,” presented at the 2014 BuildSys conference.

“My collaboration with Prof. Anthony Rowe and his group led me to propose a novel ultrasound localization technique using beam-forming. Patrick Lazik, a Ph.D. student under professor Anthony supervision, is now continuing the experimental work I started,” he says.

While in Pittsburg, Ricardo Lopes Pereira became aware that “teaching assistants also play an important role, as they are not only beneficial for students because they gain experience, but also for professors, who are relieved of some workload,” he explains.

Now that Ricardo Lopes Pereira is back in Portugal, the expectation is that the “collaboration with faculty at CMU continues.” Given the common areas of interest with CMU, “an MSc student of mine Artur Balanuta applied and was awarded with a student mobility scholarship [Undergraduate Internships Program] offered by the CMU Portugal Program to go to CMU in order to further explore the collaboration opportunities identified during my stay.”

Ricardo Lopes Pereira’s research interests include Wireless Sensor Networks, Building Automation, QoS management, routing, load balancing and Peer-to-Peer, with an emphasis on reducing the path stretch of overlay networks and reducing the impact of P2P File Sharing applications on the Internet.

December 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.