“We are helping to Change the Academia in Portugal”
Novabase is one of the industry partners of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program and it is “100 per cent engaged with the partnership since its beginning,” said Manuel Beja, head of corporate development for Novabase. In the last five years, Beja feels that the results of this partnership are deeper than the ones they were expecting in the beginning, and he really feels that “Novabase is modestly helping to bring change to the Academia in Portugal.”
“Education is one of the biggest concerns of Novabase,” said Manuel Beja explaining that this was one of the main reasons that led Novabase to become an industry partner of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program. Manuel Beja highlighted the Universidade de Coimbra and the Universidade da Madeira as good examples of Portuguese institutions of higher education, which modernized themselves and are currently attracting top talented professors and students from all over the world.
The Universidade de Coimbra, for example, launched a dual degree professional master in software engineering (MSE) within the partnership; an initiative very well accepted by the business community, including Novabase. The same happened with the Universidade da Madeira that launched two professional masters, one in Human Computer Interaction and another in Entertainment Technology. These two innovative areas merge design, entertainment, technology, and business. Novabase already had 14 employees trained and this year 2011/2012 will support the training of five in software engineering and three employees, for the first time, in the area of Human Computer Interaction, taught by the Universidade da Madeira and Carnegie Mellon University. “We make life simpler and happier for people and businesses. This is the vision of Novabase,” said Manuel Beja, clearing that “design thinking is a key tool to bring the vision to life and so the goal is to give to these employees the opportunity to learn from the best.”
Through the partnership, Novabase gave the opportunity to a MSE student to become a dual degree doctoral student. Paulo Casanova started his Ph.D. last year, with an FCT scholarship and he is currently at CMU. For Manuel Beja this is an excellent opportunity for the company and employee, but he feels that the partnership should invest more in the professional masters, because “a doctoral program is a very long run for the companies.” Therefore, he sees professional masters as very powerful instruments to the company in terms of training employees with the best of the best, as well as in hiring the best graduates from the universities.
Besides training, Novabase is involved in several research, capstone and studio projects. Innovative projects which are creating value to the company are carried out with faculty and students rom Portuguese universities, and from Carnegie Mellon University. Aeminium – Freeing Programmers from the Shackles of Sequentiality and Affidavit – Automating the Proof of Quality Attributes for Large Scale Software Architectures are good examples of research projects funded by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, through the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). These two projects are carried out by Novabase, Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade da Madeira, and Carnegie Mellon University. The Aeminium is a project approved for three years of funding in the CMU|Portugal call of 2008, which seeks to create a platform that builds in concurrency by default: instead of sequencing code, programmers express dependency information, which are used by a compile time checker to verify correctness conditions, and by the libraries and runtime system to enable concurrent execution. On the other hand, the Affidavit project, approved in the call 2009, aims to make the current state of knowledge about software architecture design accessible to mainstream system developers by building a framework that will allow architects to investigate the properties of their architectures through architectural simulation and to ensure their correct implementation through architectural transformation.
Enlarging the Link with Academia
This partnership, in Beja’s opinion, is also important because it allowed enlarging the R&D network of Novabase. “Through this partnership, we were able to meet several Portuguese and non-Portuguese players in academia, and to build a network that will work beyond the partnership”, said Beja. Nowadays it is usual for Novabase to invite professors to give seminars and lectures to their employees.
Novabase is a Portuguese company leader in the ICT solutions area in Portugal. Novabase has specialized products and services for the Telecoms & Media, Financial Services, Government & Healthcare, Energy & Utilities, Aerospace & Transportation and Manufacturing & Services sectors. Its current business lines are Business Solutions, Infrastructures & Managed Services, Digital TV and Venture Capital. Currently, there are two alumni of the CMU|Portugal Program supporting international activities of NOVABASE: António Alvim in Angola and Miguel Oliveira in Kenya.