Close this search box.

Portuguese Delegation headed by Minister Elvira Fortunato visited Carnegie Mellon

Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, recently made her first official visit to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh alongside the Portuguese Ambassador in the United States, Francisco Duarte Lopes, and Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) President Madalena Alves. The three-day CMU Portugal Summit brought together the Portuguese and CMU communities for a series of discussions and an overview of the CMU Portugal Program. 

The CMU Portugal partnership is based on a close interaction between all its stakeholders, from Academic & Research institutions to Industry. The working visit counted on high-level participation of  Carnegie Mellon University Leadership, including the President of the University, Farnam Jahanian; CMU Provost and Chief Academic Officer, James H. Garrett, Jr.; the Dean of the College of Engineering, Bill Sanders, and the Dean of the School of Computer Science, Martial Hebert

The event allowed partners from both sides of the Atlantic to network, develop new connections, and establish the ground for future collaborations bringing together a mixture of Portuguese and CMU representatives.

In attendance were CMU Portugal Directors José M. F. Moura, Inês Lynce, and Nuno Nunes as well as scientific directors Lia Patrício, Paulo Marques, and Rui Maranhão. Portugal was also represented by research institutions, including FEUP, INESC TEC, INESC ID, Instituto Superior Técnico, and FCTUC and representatives from partner companies Outsystems, Farfetch, Feedzai, Nexar, and Unbabel. In addition, 26 CMU faculty members and researchers and 29 CMU Portugal Ph.D. students participated in the action-packed activities.

The impressive turnout for this visit confirms the commitment of all involved in fostering a dynamic innovation ecosystem between Portugal and CMU, which has been the fruitful outcome of the ongoing efforts under the CMU Portugal Program since its inception in 2006.

But let’s take a closer look at the work conducted during the three days of the 2023 CMU Portugal Summit . 

Day 1 

Bill Sanders, Dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and the Portuguese Ambassador to the United States Francisco Duarte Lopes opened the event to a room full of Portuguese and CMU researchers, entrepreneurs and CMU Portugal Ph.D. students.

The first morning was dedicated to the students.

Afonso Amaral kicked off the CMU Portugal Student Presentations Session, presenting a study from Portugal and Spain on how to leverage domestic industry to enter the strategic markets carried out under his Dual Degree in Engineering and Public Policy at Instituto Superior Técnico and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. 


Margarida Ferreira, a Dual Degree Ph.D. student in Computer Science at Instituto Superior Técnico and at CMU Computer Science Department, presented her work on Program synthesis for reverse engineering congestion control algorithms that she has been developing at CMU School of Computer Science, INESC ID, and Técnico.  


Next, Manuel Reis Carneiro spoke on his work on biostickers for digital health that can be stretchable and comfortable. A work  being developed at FCTUC and CMU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. 



Sofia Martins, Dual Degree Ph.D. student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at FEUP and at CMU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, introduced how she is developing an experimental testbed energy model for virtualized RANS under CMU Portugal Large Scale project FLOYD.



CMU Portugal student in Language Technologies at Técnico and CMU LTI Institute, Gabriel Moreira, spoke about his collaboration with the iFetch team, a Large Scale Project promoted by the Portuguese ICT Unicorn Farfetch on “Multimodal conversational agents for the online fashion marketplace”. 


Catarina Fidalgo is doing her CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. on Enhancing Remote Collaboration in Mixed Reality by Manipulating Perception at Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.and Tecnico. Her preliminary thesis title is “Enhancing Remote Collaboration in Mixed Reality by Manipulating Perception”. 


Luis Borges also had the opportunity to share his Ph.D. work toward optimizing the time to find relevant documents. Luis is a CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. candidate at the LTI Institute and Técnico.



During her presentation, Maria Casimiro highlighted the work developed under her internship last year at  Feedzai and the collaboration with CMU Portugal visiting students. Maria is a CMU Portugal Software Engineering Dual Degree Ph.D. student at the Distributed Systems Group of INESC-ID/Instituto Superior Técnico, and at CMU  Software and Societal Systems Department.


To close the CMU Portugal Student Presentations Session Tamás Karácsony, CMU Portugal  Affiliated Ph.D. student at FEUP currently spending his research period at CMU Robotics Institute, guided us through his work on innovative AI solutions to classify epileptic seizures.


The session was followed by a network lunch offering a great opportunity for students and Minister Fortunato, Ambassador Lopes and President Alves,  to interact and learn more about the research being carried out under CMU Portugal Program’s flagship’s Educational initiatives. In the 2023 spring semester, 28 students are at CMU under the CMU Portugal Program and 17 are hosted at different Universities in Portugal. 

The afternoon of the first day was dedicated to the Research Initiatives being developed under CMU Portugal Exploratory (ERP) and Large Scale Collaborative Research Projects (LSCRP).

Six Projects were presented. Starting with the ERP SyNAPSE – Synthesizing Network Accelerators using Programmable Switching Equipment – by Justine Sherry from the Computer Science Department from the School of Computer Science in collaboration with Luís Pedrosa and Fernando Ramos from INESC ID. According to Justine, Exploratory projects are “a great opportunity to create other projects that will keep the collaboration between researchers in Portugal and CMU growing.”

David Garlan, from the School of Computer Science,  discussed the results of CAMELOT, a project led by Feedzai in collaboration with the Software and Societal Systems Department at CMU, FCUL and Técnico and the work of the three CMU Portugal Ph.D. students that he is currently co-advising. 

Limin Jia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department presented the Exploratory project DIVINA – Detecting Injection Vulnerabilities In Node.js Applications developed in collaboration with José Santos, Nuno Santos INESC ID, and Pedro Adão from Instituto de Telecomunicações. 

The Exploratory project PROMETHEUS – PocketQube Framework Designed for Research and Educational Access to Space – is being developed in collaboration with Alexandre Silva at Universidade do Minho and Rodrigo Ventura at Técnico. The presentation was led by the project’s researcher at CMU Zachary Manchester . The audience, including Portuguese Minister Elvira Fortunato, had the chance to hold the microsatellite prototype developed under the project. 

David Wettergreen from CMU Robotics Institute presented SAFEFOREST, a Semi-Autonomous Robotic System for Forest Cleaning and Fire Prevention led by Ingeniarius with the Association Development Industrial Aerodynamics (ADAI LAETA),  ISR Coimbra /FCTUC and Silvapor. The final demonstration of the project, with the robot and the drone developed under this project, is planned for next June. 

Finally, to close the session Nicholas Christin, jointly appointed in the School of Computer Science (Software and Societal Systems Department) and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, from CMU’s College of Engineering gave a look into the exploratory project DAnon – Supervised Deanonymization of Dark Web Traffic for Cybercrime Investigation, which is the third ERP that he leads. The project is a collaboration with Portuguese researchers at INESC-ID, INESC TEC, and FCT NOVA. 

Day 2

On the second day, CMU President Farnam Jahanian, welcomed  and had a working meeting with Minister Elvira Fortunato, Ambassador Francisco Duarte Lopes, and FCT President Madalena Alves to Carnegie Mellon. 

The meeting was followed by the Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) workshop led by CMU Portugal Scientific Director Lia Patrício (FEUP), former CMU Portugal National Director João Claro (INESC TEC), and Peter Adams Head of the CMU EPP Department. The workshop included presentations from Afonso Amaral, CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. in EPP; and, via Zoom, CMU Portugal EPP alum Miguel Godinho de Matos, Full Professor of Information Systems and Management at Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics. Professors Pedro Ferreira, Baruch FischhoffErica FuchsValerie KarplusGranger MorganJay Whitacre, and Kate Whitefoot, all from CMU,  presented some of the projects being developed in a wide range of areas. 

The afternoon of the first day was dedicated to the presentation of LSCRP GOLEM led by OutSystems. It was represented by Nuno Carneiro,  AI Strategy Lead at Outsystems, and Ruben Martins, PI of the project at CMU Computer Science Department. The project is setting a new benchmark for easy-to-use enterprise application development platforms and revolutionize the low-code and no-code development market

Next was iFETCH, an LSCRP that is developing a new generation of conversational agents for the fashion market led by the leading retailer company  Farfetch. Ricardo Sousa, the project PI and Principal Data Scientist at Farfetch presented the main achievements of the project and highlighted the importance of having 3 CMU Portugal Ph.D. students working on the project. iFetch was also represented by  João Magalhães (FCT NOVA) and João Paulo Costeira (Técnico) and Alexander Rudnicky (CMU).

IntelligentCare aims to develop a patient-centric solution to help manage Multimorbidity. To present the project’s main outcomes Pedro Ferreira PI of the project at CMU Heinz College. Hospital da Luz Learning Health leads this project in collaboration with Priberam, ISR Lisboa, INESC ID, and Técnico. 

The session ended with a presentation on MAIA, which is developing an innovative multilingual conversational platform led by Unbabel represented by Paulo Dimas, VP of product innovation at Unbabel, and Graham Neubig from CMU Language Technologies Institute. Two of our Ph.D. students, John Mendonça and Patrick Fernandes are part of the research and attended the meeting. 

The final part of the day was dedicated to the research conducted at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). Following an introduction by HCII  Director Brad Myers, Jessica Hammer presented the eGames Lab, a project recently funded under the Portuguese European recovery and resilience plan. eGames is a unique games development and creative industries cluster in Portugal, bringing together 14 companies, R&D centers, and public & private entities, and counts CMU as one of its partners.

Next, Hon Shen & Motahhare Eslami gave a presentation on Responsible AI. This area is strongly growing at Carnegie Mellon, namely with the Responsible AI Initiative to bring research in this field under the umbrella of fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics, and to apply these principles to real-world applications affecting society.

Visits to CMU Human-Computer Interaction Labs followed HCI presentations: Morphing Matter Lab by Lining Yao and the Interactive Structures Lab by  Alexandra Ion.

The Morphing Matter Lab led by Lining Yao develops materials, tools, and applications of adaptive, dynamic, and intelligent morphing matter from nano to macro scales. Innovative research that intends to advance science and society with the design of morphing materials.

The Interactive Structures Lab led by  Alexandra Ion develops interactive computational design tools that enable the digital fabrication of complex structures for novice users—an excellent opportunity to see firsthand the work produced at the Lab and interact with some great prototypes. 

The day ended with a dinner hosted by Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University, and his wife, Trish Jahanian, at their residence.  Minister Elvira Fortunato, Ambassador Francisco Duarte Lopes, and FCT President Madalena Alves were joined by the CMU Portugal Directors,  that included Provost James Garrett and a group of invited CMU Faculty members, and representatives from Portuguese companies. The dinner gave the opportunity for a broad discussion of the CMU Portugal Program by President Jahanian and Minister Elvira Fortunato and all the present guests in an informal setting. 

Day 3

The last day of the working visit to Carnegie Mellon started with presentations by CMU Robotics Institute Director Matthew Johnson-Roberson. Next, Fernando de La Torre  gave an overview of his work, focusing on the impact and the revolution the next generation of virtual reality will bring. 

After the presentations, it was time to visit the Biorobotics Lab, guided by its co-director Howie Choset, who offered a look into the work developed by one of the world’s leading Robotics Institute. 

From the Robotics Institute, the group attended a meeting hosted by Gary Fedder, Director of the Manufacturing Futures Institute. 

Gianluca Piazza and Matthew Moneck, respectively, the Director and the Executive Director of the Claire & John Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory (CMU Nanofabrication Facility), presented the Nano & Micro System Activities, followed by a Lab Tour.


During a working lunch, Carmel Majidi, Director of the Soft Machines Lab at the Mechanical Engineering Department, and Mahmoud Tavakoli, Director of the Soft and Printed Microelectronics Lab at ISR Coimbra from Universidade de Coimbra, presented their extensive collaborations, including the recent CMU Portugal projects WoW and Exoskins.

After the lunch presentations, Carmel Majidi guided a tour to the Soft Machines Lab, an exciting opportunity to see the outstanding research being developed on soft robotics, stretchable circuits, or printable conductive inks. The tour included a demonstration by Manuel Carneiro, a CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. student developing his research work at the Soft Machines Lab, co-advised by Mahmoud Tavakoli and Carmel Majidi at CMU Mechanical Engineering Department. 

To wrap up the CMU Portugal Summit, CMU Provost James Garrett and Dean Bill Sanders joined the Minister, the Ambassador, FCT President, and CMU Portugal Director at CMU José M.F. Moura for a closing meeting. The day was not over without a fruitful discussion with CMU Portugal students to hear their feedback about their ongoing Ph.D. During the conversation, the Minister highlighted that they are not only regular Ph.D. students but are representing Portugal at one of the most renowned Universities. 

As the event came to a close, it became evident that the event went beyond its jam-packed schedule to create a space where researchers and companies could convene and explore novel opportunities and synergies. In addition to upholding the Program’s legacy of fostering collaboration between the CMU community and Portuguese academia and industry, the visit served as a catalyst for a new era of innovation that promises to unfold in the coming year.

MCTES article

In the Media: RTP Online, Observador, Notícias ao Minuto, dnotícias, Total news agency.