The CMU Portugal Program hosted one of its biggest events yet, the CMU Portugal Symposium 2017. With the presence of the External Review Committee (ERC) members, some of the most illustrious names in Portuguese and American academia and over than 200 participants, it was a great day of networking and sharing of knowledge.
The opening session kicked off the event, with the welcoming words of João Claro, the National Director of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program (CMU Portugal); James Garrett, the Dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU); Paulo Ferrão, the President of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), and Sebastião Feyo de Azevedo, the Rector of the University of Porto (U. Porto).
The first panel, titled ‘Building knowledge and talent’, was a discussion on the current state of higher education, faced with the challenge of preparing students for the digital future. The panel was composed of two recently graduated CMU Portugal doctoral students, Susana Brandão and Leid Zejlinovic that provided their perspective of someone who just entered the job market and shared their CMU Portugal Program personal experience; and Professors Manuela Veloso, Head of the Machine Learning Department at CMU and Pedro Guedes de Oliveira, from Faculdade de Engenharia of the University of Porto (FEUP). The speakers talked about the teachers’ concerns and how fast computer science has evolved in their lifetimes. They seemed to agree that the primary concern of educators, in the face of an ever-changing area of study, should be to teach students to be flexible, approaching problems in novel ways, and to find solutions and information for themselves. The panel was moderated by the Dean of FEUP, Professor João Falcão e Cunha.
After the first coffee break, Jelena Kovacevic, the Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at CMU, lead the second panel on the theme ‘Building technologies and ventures’. This session had the participation of four entrepreneurs as speakers, three of them with an academic background, but they all had in common at least one of the CMU Portugal Program initiatives – experiences that influenced their entrepreneurial paths in a positive way. Paulo Marques was the first participant of the Faculty Exchange Program (FEP) and later funded the highly successful Feedzai. Frederico Carpinteiro is the CEO of Adapttech who participated in the 2015 edition of inRes, a two-person team with his co-founder Mário Saenz Espinoza. Professor Pedro Oliveira evolved a CMU Portugal lead project into the Patient Innovation platform, a ‘Non-Profit Startup of the Year’ in the 2016 Healthcare Startup Awards. João Paulo Cunha, Principal Investigator of the VR2Market Entrepreneurial Research Initiatives (ERI), is a candidate to be the next to spin off the results of research into a company, as a team from this ERI will be taking part of the inRes challenge this year.
The posters and demos session featured the ongoing ERIs and took place at the fourth floor space, alongside with lunch. Among the many researchers presenting their work, one would find several types of ground breaking technology, including two interacting robots, and also an agility game projected on the floor that entertained many of the visitors.
All of the ERIs projects had a booth to display their research and ten out of twelve had demonstrations for the public, ranging from the aforementioned robots and interactive experiences, to more simple formats, like videos, testimonials, and graphs to illustrate what they have achieved so far. The room was almost covered with posters, 38 in total, both from the projects that highlighted different parts of the research, but also from CMU Portugal dual degree Ph.D. students.
After this very successful session, the panels continued during the afternoon in the first floor auditorium, this time with presentations of each of the ERIs and a discussion on the projects, open to the public and attended by the External Review Committee.
The first panel of the afternoon, ‘Sensing and Networks’, was led by two ERC members, Professor Luigia Aiello from Università di Roma and Professor Tariq Durrani from University of Strathclyde. The projects presented were Hyrax: Crowd-Sourcing Mobile Devices to Develop Edge Clouds, VR2Market: Towards a Mobile Wearable Health Surveillance Monitoring Product for First Response and other Hazardous Professions, and STRETCHTRONICS: Soft and Stretchable Mechatronics for Wearable Devices: Fabrication, Implementation and Applications. The PIs presented their projects, followed by a discussion among all. The Hyrax project was represented by the Portuguese PI Fernando Silva and a research team member Hervé Paulino. VR2Market was presented by PI João Paulo Cunha and Stretchtronics had PI Carmel Majidi and Mahmoud Tavakoli as representatives.
The following panel, ‘Humans and Machines’, also had the moderation of Professor Aiello, but this time with the collaboration of Professor Helmer Strik from Centre for Language and Speech Technology of Radboud University. The same format was applied here: PIs Alexandre Bernardino and Asim Smailagic presented AHA: Augmented Human Assistance, INSIDE: Intelligent Networked Robot Systems for Symbiotic Interaction with Children with Impaired Development was showcased by PI Francisco Melo and Pedro Lima, and BioVisualSpeech: An Interactive Platform for Speech Therapy with Visual Bio-feedback was introduced by PI Sofia Cavaco and Margarida Grilo.
After a brief intermission, the fourth panel, titled ‘Our Data Dominated World’, featured the projects GoLocal: From monitoring global data streams to context-aware recommendations, SCREEN-DR: Image Analysis and Machine Learning Platform for Innovation in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening, and S2MovingCity: Sensing and Serving a Moving City. In a session moderated again by Professor Helmer Strik and Professor Scott Acton from Virginia Image and Video Analysis Laboratory of University of Virginia, the projects were exhibited by: for GoLocal, Pável Calado and Rodrigo Rodrigues; for SCREEN-DR, PIs Aurélio Campilho and Asim Smailagic; and for S2MovingCity, PI Susana Sargento.
The day’s last panel, focused on ‘Management and Policy’, had Douglas Sicker, the Head of the Engineering and Public Policy Department at CMU and Björn Asheim from the Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy of Lund University as hosts. As for the ERIs, TEIPL: Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy Lab was represented by its PIs, Pedro Oliveira and Helena Canhão; E4VALUE: Innovation Dynamics in Aeronautics and Embraer in Évora brought PI Miguel Amaral and Ana Barros; and +ATLANTIC: Science and Technology Policy and Innovation Analysis to Maximize the Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits of Deep Sea Exploration and Oil and Gas Development in the South Atlantic Region had the presentation of PIs Ramiro Neves and Scott Matthew.
To end the day on a positive note, André Jacques, the Chief Marketing Officer of Porto Business School, was the first keynote of the closing session, followed by José Fonseca de Moura, the CMU Portugal director at CMU and James Garrett. The event was concluded with the words of the ERC Chairman, Sir John O’Reilly, from University College London, SERC, A*STAR, Singapore.