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New Academic Year Brings New Dual Degree Doctoral Students

Academic Year 2015/2016 New Academic Year Brings New Dual Degree Doctoral Students
One of the shifts from Phase I to Phase II of the CMU Portugal Program was related to the way education activities would be seen. It was defined that the support would be mostly integrated in the Entrepreneurial Research Initiatives (ERIs), carried out in the auspices of the CMU Portugal Program. This year, the new dual degree Ph.D. students João Falcão (FEUP/CMU), Min Hun Lee (IST/CMU) and Rui Teixeira da Silva (IST/CMU) are linked with the VR2MARKET, AHA and INSIDE initiatives, respectively. Throughout FCT funding, Maria Joana Correia was also admitted as a doctoral student at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).


João Falcão, dual degree doctoral student in ECE
Aligning Ph.D. Research in Computer Vision with the ERI VR2Market
João Falcão was already a Ph.D. student at the Silicon Valley campus at CMU, when he got to know the VR2Market initiative. His first contact was when he attended a talk given by João Paulo Cunha, the principal investigator of the VR2MARKET on the Portuguese side. João Falcão explains: “This immediately got my attention, and it was through João Paulo that I got information about the dual degrees opportunities.” João Falcão applied to the dual degree doctoral program in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and was admitted.

2015_Joao_Falcao “My role within the VR2Market will be to bridge the work that has been done in Portugal and in Pittsburgh with the work done in wireless communication (with CROSSMobile) at Silicon Valley,” the student states. “I will align my research in computer vision with the project’s needs to merge vital signals with image recognition,” he adds. During his Ph.D., João Falcão is advised by João Paulo Cunha (FEUP/INESC TEC) and Robert Iannucci (CMU).

João Falcão has a master’s degree in Engineering from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s degree by Instituto Superior Técnico (IST). His research interests are in the area of computer vision, mobile computing, embedded connected devices and cyber-physical systems.

Min Hun Lee, dual degree doctoral student in ECE
Solving Challenging Problems and Enhance Quality of Living in the World
Min Hun Lee is a dual degree doctoral student in ECE who is very enthusiastic about his link with the AHA (Augment Human Assistance) initiative, and his participation on the development of a virtual coach system. Min Hun Lee was already involved in a graduate research project at CMU, when his advisor spoke with him about the possibility of applying to a dual degree Ph.D..

/uploadedImages/people/students/Min Hun Lee.png “Virtual coaches monitor the users’ activity performance and provide feedback and encouragement based on situational awareness including cognitive state and circumstances,” Min Hun Lee says. “The virtual coach module for the AHA initiative will incorporate knowledge on the user’s state from an extended set of sensors and will personalize the therapeutic game exercise,” the student explains. Alexandre Bernardino (IST), Sergi Bermúdez i Badia (UMa), Daniel P. Siwiorek (CMU), and Asim Smailagic (CMU) are his advisors.

Min Hun Lee is South Korean, has a master’s degree in ECE from CMU, and has worked as a research engineer at LG Electronics – South Korea. When asked about the future, Min Hun Lee says he wants to pursue his research interests “while collaborating with others to solve challenging problems and enhance quality of living in the world.”


Rui Teixeira Silva, dual degree doctoral student in CS
Making a Positive Contribution to the World
Rui Teixeira Silva became involved in the CMU Portugal Program in two different ways: as an Undergraduate Internship Member (UIP) and now as a dual degree Ph.D. student in Computer Science (CS). While he was at CMU as an Undergraduate he had an amazing time, since he had the opportunity “to do research at the highest level, in one of the best universities in the world.”

/uploadedImages/people/students/RuiSilva.jpg Now that he is a dual degree Ph.D. student he will be involved on the INSIDE initiative. “I plan to contribute to this project by developing machine learning algorithms applied to robotics, with the goal of allowing robots to interact with humans, and assist them in a multitude of tasks,” Rui states. His advisors are Francisco Melo (IST/INESC ID) and Manuela Veloso (CMU). For Rui Silva to be involved on this ERI is very challenging, because it has an ambitious and honorable goal: “the deployment of the research developed in a real-world scenario with children with impaired development, for therapeutical purposes.”

Rui Teixeira da Silva finished a master’s degree in Information Systems and Computer Engineering in 2014, at IST. He’s also a Member of the Executive Board of the Pedagogical Council of IST.


Maria Joana Correia, dual degree doctoral student in LTI
Contribute to the Development of New Speech and Language Technologies

“ While I was finishing my master’s degree I decided I wanted to continue to study, in particular, in a research area similar to the one on my thesis (speech processing),” states Maria Joana Correia, who is starting a dual degree Ph.D. program at IST and CMU. “So I approached my advisor, Prof. Isabel Trancoso and expressed my desire. Prof. Isabel Trancoso told me about the CMU Portugal Program and how INESC ID, the laboratory where I was at that moment, was involved in the program. It immediately got my attention, since all the involved institutions have exceptional research teams. I applied in the following round,” explains Joana.

For the time being, Joana Correia will not be involved on an ERI, however, she already had the opportunity to collaborate with the team working on the INSIDE initiative. Joana explains: “We developed and tested new techniques aiming to enhance the quality of a noisy speech signal to make it more intelligible. Hopefully, this small contribution will help them to achieve their ultimate goal of having robots interacting seamlessly with children in an unsupervised hospital environment.” This experience makes her feel that “in the future, I hope to have the opportunity to work along side the INSIDE team again, as well as to establish new collaborations with other research groups.”

Joana Correia’s priority for the near future is “to develop a strong theoretical background, so that, further in the degree, I can apply it in my own research and be successful in contributing to the development of new speech and language technologies.”

October 2015

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