It is now Time for Engineering to Safeguard Life on Earth
We all know that Engineering can change the world:
Engineering was involved in building the Giza Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Panama Canal, in sending navigators around the world and astronauts into space, in developing telecommunication networks and the Internet. Engineering must now help towards sustaining life on Earth, focused on better fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In 2015 the United Nations (UN) adopted the SDG to address the need to better preserve life on Earth. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently published the 6th Assessment Report “bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations”. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, stated: “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet. […] By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple, and renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net zero trajectory by mid-century”. António Guterres was educated in Engineering, and he is now making a very important statement. But alone it is not a sufficient objective for Engineering.
All forms of life on Earth have been feeling the impact of the work of professional engineers, and we need to evolve quickly into much more
sustainable Engineering. Every action produces an impact on lives, and we need to know much better the impacts that our activity generates. Therefore research, producing new knowledge, education, spreading knowledge, and innovation, making money from knowledge, need to refocus on the SDG. We must do better with fewer resources.
Although at FEUP sustainability is already being considered, the changes in attitudes and behaviours must be more widespread, and all of us need to consider the impacts of what we do in each of our daily tasks.
Most of us are certainly aware of the SDG, and believe something better must be done. We expect the government to take the lead. But we can decide to do better, and act accordingly. FEUP needs to do better, with less resources: each student, lecturer, researcher, and technical staff member has to act accordingly. At FEUP each education course unit and every research or innovation project task must make clear evidence of its key contributions towards sustainability of livelihoods.
FEUP is associated to the Portuguese Sustainable Campus Network, and since 2016 has held the Sustainable Ideas Competition. We have reusable water bottles, selective waste collection, charges on using disposable coffee cups, and the “Repair Café”. We have initiatives to promote sustainable mobility, organic farming, and the circularity of plastics. Students also run several competitions such as EBEC, Spaghetti Bridges and TIMES, having introduced sustainability objectives.
But this is clearly not enough, and FEUP has to do much better in many areas, starting with mobility, and water and energy management. We must do better with less resources.
FEUP now runs over 60 education programmes, at BSc, MSc and PhD level, with a total of over 1,500 course units, and is involved in over 350 collaborative research and innovation projects, each one involving multiple tasks. Sustainability goals need to be explicitly included in all these activities, and results must be more visible, both internally at U.Porto and publicly.
Sustainable Engineering requires a combination of key subjects including mathematics and science, together with laboratory practice and training alongside experienced professionals. The social sciences and ethics are also important for Engineering. Knowledge is key for Engineering to safeguard life on Earth.
We have been learning from the pandemic situation that we can organise our activities in a different way, with a more sustainable use of resources. We and our extended community need to act through a more sustainable Engineering, doing better with less resources!
“A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory”, Ostrom’s law . Elinor Ostrom [1933-2012] received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for “her research demonstrating that ordinary people are capable of creating rules and institutions that allow for the sustainable and equitable management of shared resources”.
FEUP IN BRIEF
Founded in 1926, the Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP) is the largest of the 14 faculties that constitute the University of Porto. With its origins in the Polytechnic Academy, created in 1837, FEUP is a leading institution of international repute, whose achievements in research and teaching have led to its current position at the forefront of engineering schools.
FEUP’s claim to be an international School of Engineering relies not only on the growing number of international students and researchers on the campus, but also on the strong cooperative relations that it maintains with businesses and leading higher education institutions in Europe and the rest of the world, with special emphasis on the USA and Brazil. This extensive collaboration ranges from establishing joint degrees and applied research to providing professional training and mobility programmes for students and staff. FEUP has come to expand its basis of cooperation, also participating in major international networks and prestigious engineering associations such as CESAER - Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research.
Worldwide recognition of FEUP’s quality can also be seen in the high position it occupies in the most respected global rankings of Engineering schools. Together with the excellent comprehensive education it offers, this provides students with outstanding advantages in both national and international labour markets.
For the past 184 years FEUP has played a leading institutional role in the economic development of the city of Porto, the northern region and the country as a whole, both in terms of the quality of its education, producing engineers of world-class standard, and the scientific and technological breakthroughs that it has made, which have contributed to global scientific development, industrial progress and social well-being.
A DYNAMIC ATMOSPHERE
FEUP is located in the Asprela Pole of the University of Porto, an area designated as the Porto Innovation District. Concentrated within one square kilometre, this area is home to several faculties of the University of Porto, schools of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, private universities, a central teaching hospital, an institute of oncology and various national and international research institutes. With about 50,000 talented people working here, it is primarily a technology hub, where the strong presence of engineering technologies, health sciences and entrepreneurship lend considerable impetus to the process of innovation.
The Porto Innovation District is also where the core of the University of Porto’s Science and Technology Park (UPTEC) is located. UPTEC is a structure which brings together over two hundred projects, including startups, innovation centres, anchor companies and entrepreneurial projects.
A recent study by the Faculty of Economics of University of Porto showed that in 2019 the UPTEC companies registered an economic impact of 284 million euros in GDP, while creating 6,464 workplaces. In 2013, UPTEC was recognized with the Regio Stars Award in the category “Smart Growth”, organized by the European Commission - the first time a Portuguese university had received an award for regional development projects at European level.
All in all, the Porto Innovation District is brimming with the entrepreneurial spirit and multidisciplinary research that have allowed FEUP to break new ground in which to operate and thus broaden its expertise. Today, FEUP houses the facilities of the Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (INEGI) and the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC).
U.PORTO: A DRIVING FORCE FOR THE NORTHERN REGION - AN INTERNATIONAL PLAYER
The University of Porto (U.Porto), located in the north of Portugal, is increasingly becoming a major contributor to global networks of academic and scientific excellence, helping to promote the worldwide transfer of its research results. As a research university, it contributes significantly to the country’s scientific output.
U.Porto is also aware of the crucial role it plays in socioeconomic development, both at regional and national level, through its interaction with wider society and the productive base in particular. It is therefore placing increasing emphasis on raising the value of its research activity by means of transferring knowledge and technologies to industry, together with genuine human talent, and creating partnerships with businesses, which have resulted in innovations with proven success in both national and international markets. In 2015, together with the University of Minho and the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, the University of Porto created UNorte.pt, the first consortium of higher education institutions in Portugal, whose cooperation has brought the Northern region to a stronger position in Portugal and in Europe.
In the European sphere, U.Porto is one of five major research universities which have together created a European University Alliance for Global Health (EUGLOH) committed to building the European universities of tomorrow in response to the pressing issues facing the future of global health. This Alliance is led by University Paris-Saclay (France) and also includes Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich (Germany), Lund University (Sweden) and Szeged University (Hungary).
U.Porto is a comprehensive institution, with a large number of faculties and schools providing a diverse range of knowledge, continually interacting and offering opportunities for training at all stages of life. As the university’s main aim is the all-round education of its students, it also offers numerous extra-curricular activities in areas ranging from sports and the arts to entrepreneurship and volunteer service. U.Porto is indeed the preferred choice in Portugal for those applying to an undergraduate programme, which means that every year the number of applicants is greater than the number of availa-
ble places. When it comes to international students, there has been a significant increase in enrolments at all levels of education in the last few years, and even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic the number of international students remained quite stable.
Recognition of U.Porto as an institution of excellence is reflected in the high place that it occupies in global rankings. U.Porto is a key academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking and IberoAmerican worlds and its leading international role is reinforced by the prestigious ties of cooperation that it has with countries which share linguistic or historical kinship.
THE CITY OF PORTO
Anyone who visits Porto for the first time immediately feels the pulse of a city that is not just the regional capital of northern Portugal, but also the main trading centre in the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula. Traditionally known for its Port Wine trade, the region is home to a large cross-section of Portuguese industry, in particular the sectors of timber, furniture-making, textiles, garment manufacturing, footwear, metal-working and various engineering industries. Its commercial activity is facilitated by the cargo terminal at the port of Leixões, which handles 25% of Portugal’s international maritime trade, and also by Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, consistently voted one of the best in Europe for the last 13 years; in 2020 it was ranked Best European Airport with regard to its COVID-19 response.
The historic centre is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and its charm and beauty cast a special spell on the city of Porto. But no less enchanting are the modern buildings designed by acclaimed names in architecture such as Siza Vieira, Souto Moura and Rem Koolhaas. The pleasant atmosphere, excellent cuisine, and range of cultural and leisure activities at competitive prices have earned it praise from such international publications as the New York Times and Lonely Planet. In 2017 Porto was for the third time elected Best European Destination and more recently, among other nominations, it was considered Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2020.
A COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION
Studying at FEUP means joining a community of around 8,000 promising students at the largest faculty of the University of Porto, itself the second biggest university in Portugal, with over 30,000 students.
In accordance with the Bologna principles, greater pedagogical emphasis is placed on “learning” than “teaching”, which allows the student to play a more active role. To enable this, FEUP provides its students with top facilities and equipment combined with quality services that can keep pace with recent trends and students’ requirements. These include study rooms and computer labs open round the clock every day of the year.
FEUP has high quality standards and therefore seeks the best candidates from Portugal and abroad to accomplish its mission of producing competitive engineering graduates for the global labour market and key change agents for industry. The excellence of the education offered is reflected in the success achieved by FEUP’s alumni in many highly reputable organizations around the world.
To prepare students for the ’real world’, they are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary assignments, and to take part in research, innovation and entrepreneurship projects from undergraduate level. FEUP also promotes
the participation of students in company-proposed projects as part of their Masters dissertations as well as Summer internship programmes. As for 2021, undergraduate programmes are undergoing extensive restructuring with special focus on providing students with transversal skills far beyond the Engineering area as well as promoting an ever closer contact with the professional world.
Besides all the curricular activities, FEUP offers a great array of extra-curricular options, including theatre, music and painting. Cultural events play a central role at the institution, including such diverse initiatives as film cycles, exhibitions, seminars, literature sessions, and conferences on many different topics. FEUP’s classical orchestra is one of the University of Porto’s most emblematic and successful cultural projects. When it comes to sports, a wide range of activities are offered, covering all types of sports, with FEUP athletes being distinguished with medals in several national and international competitions.
Students also have the opportunity to develop their soft skills when, for instance, they engage in activities related to intercultural diversity, participate in groups dedicated to certain subject areas or join international or local associations such as BEST (Board of European Students of Technology), ESN (Erasmus Student Network) or InterUp (Youth Association for International Students).Photo: Egídio Santos
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION FOR THE REAL WORLD
FEUP’s central position on the map of Research and Innovation (R&I) is certainly reinforced by its privileged location – the Porto Innovation District – and the international networks of which it is part. The Innovation Centre at the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC) is located nearby. This centre is a clear example of the cooperation between the academic and business worlds: several innovation teams from national and international companies are established here, involved in the development of new technologies geared towards the global market.
The establishment of partnerships with external entities enables FEUP not only to enrich its research activities by sharing ideas and experiences, but also to seek appropriate solutions to current global challenges. The INOV Unit at FEUP seeks to open new doors to our presence in European knowledge networks and to leverage participation in and funding by European R&I framework programmes. It is a very important source of support to researchers, strengthened by another structure: the Industry Liaison Office (ILO). The ILO promotes close cooperation between FEUP researchers and national and international industry, thus fostering competitive collaboration and access to external funding.
Countless projects demonstrate FEUP’s capacity to bring about innovation through its R&D units in conjunction with the affiliated institutes, together forming a support platform for Faculty research. The new FEUP Associate Laboratories “Innovation in Chemical Engineering” (ALICE) and “Advanced Production and Intelligent Systems” (ARISE) are the most recent indication of researchers’ commitment to cooperation and to raising FEUP’s research to the highest level.
FEUP’s considerable technical-scientific potential has been applied in numerous technology transfer projects. The knowledge of university professors and researchers has also contributed to the training and consultancy services provided to the business and public sectors, as well as to the establishment of standardized procedures that guarantee the quality and safety of products and services.
Promotion of entrepreneurship is undertaken through advanced training in innovation and technological enterprise, publicizing of
incentive programmes, organization of counselling initiatives and contacts made with available companies and investors. A significant number of entrepreneurial projects, instigated by professors, researchers and students, have given rise to start-ups and spin-offs. In 2021 FEUP takes the leadership of INVENTHEI, a European Consortium to promote a network of innovation and research ecosystems, containing 8 partners, from the United Kingdom to Romania.
FEUP also leads the field in the Business and Innovation Network (BIN@) initiative. This network, created in 2010, is a joint effort of academic and industry partners engaged in a sustainable platform for sharing best practices and opportunities in innovation. BIN@ has currently around 4,000 delegates worldwide (+60 countries) and has so far organised events in Portugal, UK, Brazil, Romania and Poland.
FEUP encourages application of the academic knowledge it generates to solving real-world problems. This is achieved by establishing strong links with business and industry, thereby opening the way to building long-lasting relationships of trust. The corporate membership Programme FEUP PRIME, launched in 2018, gathers about 100 companies, aiming to establish a direct connection with the sources of talent and knowledge that provide the ability to stay ahead and deliver key innovations to the market. This is especially achieved through Doctoral Research Projects with Enterprises (DoRPE), which intend to offer companies a standard procedure to initiate a research project with FEUP involving a doctoral candidate and appropriate funding. Rangel and Águas do Douro e Paiva have joined BA Glass, Advanced Cyclone Systems, Efacec, Kaizen Institute, Natixis, Sonae IM and Vodafone as FEUP Prime Partners and there are currently several PhD students undertaking research projects proposed by some of these companies within the scope of DoRPE.Photo: rights reserved
The alumni community is an important connection between FEUP and the world beyond its campus boundaries: our alumni represent both a valuable source of expertise as well as a bridge to hundreds of organisations and companies, many of which are strategic potential partners in the field of education and research.
As alma mater, FEUP continues to invest in alumni development, offering a broad choice of lifelong learning opportunities, as well as a range of significant benefits, from access to our lavish library resources to involvement in numerous conferences, concerts and other cultural and entertainment activities.
The alumni network is not only of interest for catching up with old classmates but is also useful for conveying information related to job openings or collaboration opportunities, as well as building a strong network and sharing relevant experiences.
FEUP’s Alumni Ambassador Programme is a keystone in the network project FEUPLink, which serves as a launchpad for a diverse range of initiatives, bringing our alumni from around the world closer to each other and closer to FEUP. In 2021 FEUP has 33 active Alumni Ambassadors in 21 countries: Angola, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Republic of Vanuatu/Fiji Islands. Lisbon, in Portugal, also has an official representation since its community is of such a significant size.
FEUP is very glad to have an alumni community keen on
staying in touch with their alma mater: from the beginning the commitment shown by our alumni has been very clear. They are willing to support FEUP in all fields of activity and participate eagerly in alumni reunions as well as in other social activities including networking and volunteering.
According to Viviana Silva, Alumna Ambassador in Germany: FEUP Alumni is a great project, and I am very proud to be part of it as Ambassador in Germany! In this project, we connect with other Alumni, meet past friends and colleagues, and get to know new ones. We share our experiences and lessons learned and give valuable tricks and tips on real professional situations. FEUP Alumni is the safe space to share your goals and ambitions and find informal mentors to guide you there. Moreover, I have met other FEUP Alumni Ambassadors worldwide and discovered more stories from exceptional engineers about their professional and cultural adventures. Last but not least, as Ambassador, I have had the privilege to share my personal and professional growth #Chemtalk and inspire students of Chemical Engineering at FEUP. I hope to continue in this project as Ambassador or Member and contribute to strengthening our community and increasing the visibility of FEUP Engineers in Germany.
The alumni community is growing day by day: over 30,000 alumni have been identified on LinkedIn and over 10,000 have joined the FEUPLink exclusive groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, thus now being directly linked to FEUP.
If you are a FEUP alumnus, we’d be glad if you could join the alumni community FEUPLink on LinkedIn and, who knows, become our Alumni Ambassador to help make the community even larger - more information available on www.fe.up.pt/alumni
The issue of sustainability, with all its economic, social and environmental dimensions, is currently a cornerstone of developed societies and their key institutions. Aware of its important role in society, FEUP strives to both optimize the positive impacts and to minimize the negative effects of its activities, while contributing to the UN global Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
On the economic front, it should be noted that in 2020 FEUP’s revenues were 59.73 M€. Of this amount, 46% comes from the State Budget, with the rest being selfgenerated revenue or arising from R&D projects. In that same year, FEUP was the direct employer of 1,257 workers. The economic impact of its activity on Local Product in Greater Porto was calculated at 57.3 M€.
FEUP plays a significant social role in the training of future professionals, policy makers and citizens, while through Research and Innovation it helps respond to society’s challenges, seeking to solve real problems. In order to promote an inclusive education, FEUP has at its disposal a specialized office offering support to students with special educational needs, with the aim of improving their conditions of learning and helping them on their academic path. When it comes to student integration, the Intercultural Contact Point (iPoint) focuses on providing a soft landing for international students and on promoting intercultural experiences within the whole community. IPoint upholds the acceptance of all forms of diversity inside its community, whether it related to race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other kind.
Social responsibility actions extend to the creation of opportunities for students to participate in volunteer projects at national and international level, such as GASPORTO, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to aid and human development in Portugal and the developing world. Headquartered at the Faculty of Engineering, GASPORTO has been undertaking significant volunteer work not only in the city of Porto, but also in Timor and Mozambique - its main goal being to instil in students an understanding of cultures and to help make the world a better place to live in. FEUP also supports institutions located in the surrounding area, including IPO Porto (the Portuguese Institute of Oncology - Porto); Hospital do Joãozinho (Pediatric Hospital); Loja Social de Paranhos (Paranhos Community Store), which provides poor families with food, clothing, hygiene products and other utilities, to which FEUP con-
tributes monthly; AJUDARIS – a local association that fights against hunger, poverty and social exclusion; and “Teach for Portugal”, a project which involves young graduates with secondary school students. Moreover, it has supported specific actions to overcome critical situations such as housing reconstruction following large-scale forest fires. In addition, the faculty has a cultural impact on the local community through its Cultural Commissioner, organizing shows open to the local community and also promoting painting, theatre and music workshops, with emphasis on Vocal and Jazz groups and the FEUP Classical Orchestra.
FEUP’s Sustainability Commission plays an important role in promoting sustainability policies, in particular those related to the environment. With a view to achieving a more sustainable campus, those areas which have been especially enhanced include reducing energy and water consumption, waste production, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, caring for green spaces, organic farming, sustainable food and mobility. Among the most recent measures, those that particularly stand out in the area of mobility are the availability of bicycles through the U-bike project and the awarding of bonuses to promote bicycle commuting. Also, at the beginning of the year, a photovoltaic production unit for self-consumption was installed; in total, 708 panels were mounted on the roofs of a number of buildings on the FEUP campus. The area occupied by the new photovoltaic unit is around 1,420 m², with an estimated production of 412 MWh, which represents about 7% of FEUP’s annual consumption of electricity in 2019 and annual cost savings of around 50,000 euros. Of further note is the Annual More Sustainable Ideas Contest, whose 1st edition was held in 2016, which aims to recognize innovation in terms of Sustainability at FEUP, stimulating the creative involvement of the entire community in contributing with ideas in favour of a more sustainable FEUP.
Since 2009, FEUP has been a member of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges and a founding member of the Plastics Pact since 2020. In 2019 FEUP hosted and co-organized the first Sustainable Campus Conference (CCS 2019), under the theme “Sustainable Development: Higher Education Institutions as Agents of Change”. This therefore provided the theme for the Commitment Charter between the key national Higher Education Institutions with a view to implementing a “culture of sustainability” in higher education.
FEUP NEW BUILDINGS
Request for prior information approved by Porto City Hall: 16.330 m2 (Oct. 2020)
Number of floors: 7
Total construction area: 8.150 m²
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
Department of Informatics Engineering Archives Auditoriums
PHASE II Request for prior information submitted to Porto City Hall: 6.000 m2
Number of floors: 6
Total construction area: 6.950 m²
Number of floors: 6
Total construction area: 1.230 m²
Catering Events support
Proposal under study: 15.000 m2
New proposed green spaces: 1.400 m2
Web Summit awards project to combat plastic in the oceans
The SMART project, which brings together researchers from five Portuguese institutions – among them the Underwater Systems and Technologies Laboratory (LSTS) of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto – is the winner of the 1st edition of the AI Moonshot Challenge competition promoted by Web Summit. The 500,000 euro prize was awarded for developing a project to combat ocean pollution – especially that caused by plastic.
“It is estimated that 80% of the floating debris present in the ocean is made of plastic material, a situation that poses a serious threat not only to marine life, but also to human health. Our objective is, therefore, to combine techniques from artificial intelligence, modelling, robotics and remote observation, to ensure that micro-plastics can be identified and tracked”, explains João Tasso.
The FEUP researcher also highlights how this project developed simply and organically out of a serious commitment to solving one of today’s biggest challenges and which “can only be solved on the basis of national and international cooperation”. The team is led by the Centre for Natural Resources and Environment (CERENA-IST) and, in addition to FEUP’s LSTS, includes three other bodies: the Associate Laboratory Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), the Hydrographic Institute and MIT-Portugal.
Together, the five organizations intend “to combine machine learning (from artificial intelligence) with the principles of the laws of physics to build models for predicting and simulating the accumulation of plastic in the ocean” based on data collected by satellite. More specifically, the researchers will use satellite data from the Copernicus program to determine appropriate frequencies for detecting plastic
in water bodies and complement that information with models that simulate the behaviour of the ocean.
In a statement, Ricardo Conde, president of the Portuguese Space Agency, said that “using satellite data, in particular from the Copernicus program, enables us to find large-scale solutions to some of the many challenges posed by climate change.” The jury – chaired by biologist Carolina Sá and Paolo Corradi, systems engineer at the European Space Agency (ESA) – also appreciated the fact that the Portuguese researchers planned to use “autonomous maritime vehicles to validate the results and collect even more data”.
AI MOONSHOT CHALLENGE
Launched during the 2019 edition of Web Summit, the “AI Moonshot Challenge” aims to seek “disruptive ideas” and new solutions that combine computing technologies, satellite data and artificial intelligence to solve problems related to climate change.
Paulo Dimas, vice president of Product Innovation at Unbabel, a company that supports the “AI Moonshot Challenge”, believes that “artificial intelligence is potentially able to combine all this data so as to find patterns and make detections where it normally would not be possible”.
FEUP LEADS MULTI-MILLION PROJECT TO PRODUCE ENERGY WITHOUT EMITTING POLLUTING GASES
3.5 million euros are to be put into the development of a technology enabling energy production without the emission of greenhouse gases/pollutants. This is the next big challenge for the team led by Adélio Mendes, researcher at the Process, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy Engineering Laboratory (LEPABE) of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP).
According to the researchers, funding under the Horizon 2020 program will be critical to developing a low-cost, sustainable technology that can be implemented quickly for use in both stationary and mobile applications, and which is always available for use when needed.
“With a view to optimizing the project, I believe we can still be hopeful that this technology will not only not emit polluting gases, but will also manage to remove them from the atmosphere”, admits Adélio Mendes. So how will it all work? Through the decomposition of biomethane, whereby CO2 captured by biomass is turned into charcoal, mimicking the natural process.
But let’s break it down. This technology takes methane (biomethane, natural gas or synthetic methane) and transforms it into carbon and hydrogen via a process that is efficient, stable and cheap, without emitting any other by-products. The reactor responsible for this transformation is expected to have an (hydrogen) energy production capacity of around 700 W/L. A cost estimate indicates that hydrogen produced by this process is about 40% cheaper than by the current process (methane reforming with CO2 sequestration), if based on natural gas, and about 30% cheaper when based on biogas.
The hydrogen produced can be used in fuel cells to produce electricity, in blast furnaces, to transform iron minerals into metallic iron, and in the chemical and petrochemical industry. Stationary applications include supplying hydrogen from natural gas to residential districts or neighbourhood blocks and supplying it to the chemical, cement and metallurgy industries, etc.
Among moving applications, the main uses are in ships, trains, buses and trucks. Carbon, or charcoal, is produced in particles of around 0.2 mm which, after being aggregated, can be applied to many uses, such as in civil construction, production of composite blocks, on roads and in the tyre industry.
THE ENERGY “THE PLANET NEEDS”
The chemical reaction that transforms methane into hydrogen and carbon is called methane decomposition or methane pyrolysis. The approved project aims to conduct this reaction at a temperature of approximately 600°C, in a catalytic reactor in which the catalyst is periodically regenerated on line, that is, without interruptions.
“The project’s success will very quickly make it possible to produce energy based on natural gas, but without CO2 emissions, and thus gain vital time for the planet in order to develop other technologies using only renewable energy sources. In any event, methane decomposition will remain one of the most effective technologies for removing atmospheric CO2 in combination with the biogas industry”, explains Adélio Mendes.
Designated “112CO2”, the project’s partners include the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto (FLUP), the Agência Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) in Spain, the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Germany and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. Companies also involved are Quantis in Switzerland, Paul Wurth in Luxembourg and PixelVoltaic in Portugal (FEUP spin-off).
Mobilizing the footwear cluster through the circular economy and industry 4.0
A consortium of 23 national companies with links to footwear is looking to mobilize the sector and contribute towards innovation in terms of design and products, materials and components, equipment and processes, business models, digital economy, as well as sustainable and responsible development.
After 10 encouraging years, the Por tuguese footwear market is facing some difficulties, accentuated by the post-pandemic economic situation. Even so, industrial manufacturers and associations linked to the sector are betting on exports resuming soon, given the news coming from overseas markets: sales to the United States growing 17.6%, to 47.2 million euros, and increasing 45% to China, which in 2020 purchased over 17 million euros worth of Portuguese footwear.
It is a strategic sector for Portugal involving 278 companies, 14,000 jobs and an annual turnover of 1,100 million euros. To remain competitive, the
cluster has to focus on being creative, controlling the entire production process and product life cycle, adding value at every stage and embracing the social, market and technological challenges, trends and opportunities of industry 4.0 and the circular economy.
This is the background to the emergence of FAMEST – Footwear, Advanced Materials, Equipment and Software Technologies, a project promoted by a consortium of 23 national companies with the aim of boosting the footwear and fashion cluster, and which brings together research into the whole production process and product lifecycle. The Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) is part of FAMEST GREEN (one of the six areas intoText: Raquel Pires Photo: rights reserved
Did you know that...
FAMEST is promoted by a consortium of 23 leading companies representing the entire footwear value chain – leather, insoles, soles, chemicals, software, equipment, logistics and footwear – and nine R&DT institutions providing the multidisciplinary skills to ensure development of innovative products with economic value for promoters in national and international markets.
Portugal under the magnifying glass
Portugal is the 8th largest exporter of leather footwear in the world and ranks among the world’s leading exporters of fashion footwear, claiming to have “The Sexiest Industry in Europe”. After three consecutive years of growth, Portuguese exports fell in 2019, but exceeded 76 million pairs. France and Germany are the key markets for Portuguese footwear, while Spain is Portugal’s main supplier.
which the project is divided), whose specific aim is to recycle and recover the waste generated by the production and consumption process.
“It is estimated that the European footwear industry produces around 100 to 200 thousand tons of leather waste per year, which represents a cost in the order of 4 to 10 million euros”, warns Carlos Fonseca of the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, who is responsible for the project at FEUP.
But there remain other residues of polymeric and composite materials applied to soles and insoles resulting from the union of foams and textiles that must also be taken into account, as well as the problem of managing footwear at the end of its life cycle. For researchers at the Faculty of Engineering, it is essential to find a more sustainable alternative based on recycling for the manufacture of new materials, instead of continuing to deposit most waste in landfills, without making use of its material and energy content.
With funding of 6 million euros, FAMEST GREEN is looking for solutions that reduce the consumption of raw materials in the footwear industry. For researchers, one of the priorities is to make use of leather waste through the production of leather/ rubber composites, as this could mean the transformation of a production surplus into a product with added value, as well as a wide range of social and environmental considerations. This initiative enjoys the collaboration of the company Atlanta - Componentes para Calçado, Lda.
Another objective of the project is to make use of polymers resulting from residues and surplus materials in the production of footwear, namely EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) and thermoplastic polyu-
rethane. The FEUP team, in close collaboration with researchers from the Porto School of Engineering (ISEP) and with the company Faprel, Lda, are working to develop effective linking strategies between these and the concrete components, in order to obtain composites with good mechanical properties.
The technique of incorporating polymeric or other residues into cement has, in fact, often been used to give specific properties to concrete (for example, low density or improved vibration resistance), and also to make use of residues from a wide range of materials including surpluses from footwear production (e.g. EVA and polyurethane). “The incorporation of polymers has been extensively studied, given the environmental problems they pose, and it was found that the density of concrete decreases with a higher level of added polymer, resulting in a light concrete with lower thermal conductivity, albeit with inferior mechanical properties”, the FEUP researcher explains.
The FAMEST project essentially sets out to try and modernize the sector, and it is therefore crucial at this stage to consider the whole footwear value chain and environmental concerns, from the selection of raw materials (through manufacturing, packaging, transport and distribution to use and maintenance) until the end of the product’s life.
What is certain is that in order to guarantee the international competitiveness of the footwear cluster, its focus must necessarily be on the quality of products so that they become competitive and superior to those of the competition.
management board strategy of world-renowned companies and public institutions. The concept went global in 2015, when the UN unanimously approved the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and defined the 2030 Agenda as a priority. The commitment made by world leaders is based on creating a new global model to end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment and fight climate change. How can engineering contribute so that no one is left behind?
The official EU announcement in June 2019 came as no surprise to those who for months had worked tirelessly on the proposal for creation of an interuniversity campus in Europe. Following approval of this pilot project, the University of Porto is one of the first 17 alliances of European Universities to join this community initiative which aims to respond to the current global challenges in public health, environment and food safety.
The consortium is called the European University Alliance for Global Health (EUGLOH) and brings together – in addition to the University of Porto – Paris-Saclay University (France), the LudwigMaximilians-University (Germany), the University of Lund (Sweden) and the University of Szeged (Hungary). From a pool of 54 applications, the University of Porto has secured a funding program of up to 5 million euros.
The main objective is to work on the creation of joint teaching programs, but also on the sharing of resources, tools and infrastructure among the five universities, which together accommodate over 200 thousand students. And over the next 10 years, it will seek to assert itself as a world leader in higher
education, through the solid connection between theoretical knowledge and the professional skills needed for the Europe of the future.
What role do schools play in this ambitious community goal? How can the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) contribute to strengthening this program? After a detailed survey, we concluded that FEUP’s engineering has been directly involved in 226 R&D projects in recent years in the area of health and well-being. Half of these projects are still ongoing and are worth knowing about. Since it is impossible to mention them all, here is a small sample of the potential that the Faculty of Engineering has gained in these areas in recent years.
In the area of health, FEUP has mainly conducted research in projects related to bioengineering, ranging widely from new drugs through medical devices to biomechanics. One of the most recent studies is being carried out at the Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy (LEPABE) with the aim of developing a new line of research to inhibit the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.
It has become a key foundation of policy agenda and begun to guide the
With funding of 1 million euros from H2020, the DelNAM project brings together multidisciplinary competencies and aims to strengthen skills in order to develop an innovative solution to combat the critical public health issue of antibiotic resistance. Led by Nuno Azevedo (FEUP), the team of researchers also has two reputable European partners: the Nucleid Acid Centre of Contact - University of Southern Denmark and the General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy of Ghent University, in Belgium. When it comes to medical devices, important partnerships have also been set up, such as the one that led to Waveguard™touch, an electroencephalographic (EEG) signal monitoring system based on dry electrodes. The project developed by Carlos Fonseca, from the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, in partnership with Ilmenau Technical University, Germany, resulted in a cap, now being marketed by a German company, which is an alternative to the traditional gel electrodes essential for the clinical diagnosis of various brain pathologies and used in neuropsychological studies. In addition, so as to find alternatives to traditional gels for electroencephalography, a hydrogel was developed which provides a more stable contact with the scalp, while also leaving the head clean. This product has been the subject of a patent and continuing effort is being made to sell the technology, with the help of UPIN.
In the field of biomechanics and medical imaging, one of FEUP’s distinctive projects mobilized multidisciplinary teams from the Department of Mechanical Engineering with the aim of solving pelvic floor disorders in adult women. According to medical studies, it is estimated that the problem of prolapsed pelvic organs affects 40% of the female population worldwide between the ages of 45 and 85 years old. Headed by Renato Natal, BIOPELVIC has developed an anatomical model with the respective kinematic and dynamic characteristics of the pelvic cavity using ultrasound, image processing and 3D reconstruction, which can serve the medical community in order to help health professionals make decisions related to traumatic diagnosis and treatment of patients and their families.
After analysing the range of projects within FEUP’s sphere of activity, some considerations can be made. Firstly, it is clear that “well-being” is a wide-ranging concept which can be applied to sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, projects involved in built environment quality, as well as to environmental monitoring, not forgetting safety engineering and occupational hygiene which frequently deal with issues of accessibility and inclusion.
One of the most outstanding and successful projects in the history of the Faculty of Engineering in terms of energy efficiency saw researcher Adélio Mendes reach the top for the most expensive patents in Portugal: 5 million euros was how much the Australian company Dyesol paid in 2015 for sealing technology using perovskite solar cells (PSC), capable of enabling the direct conversion of sunlight into electrical energy in a renewable and sustainable way. The technology, developed in collaboration with EFACEC, also features a low manufacturing cost, high energy efficiency and 25-year durability.
The Department of Civil Engineering’s research groups are among those that have contributed most to sustainable mobility and built environment quality at FEUP. The Liquefact project is a good example. Together with other European partners, the team led by António Viana da Fonseca dedicated itself to the detailed study of disasters caused by earthquakeinduced liquefaction, responsible for direct economic losses amounting to approximately 29 billion euros, in the last decade alone. The numbers remain tragic when it comes to the loss of human life: almost 19,000 deaths caused by earthquakes. Liquefaction is a phenomenon characterized by the loss of rigidity and strength of soils caused by seismic activity. For the researchers, there was clearly a need to adopt a systematic approach to assess a site for potential liquefaction, even before construction begins, and then to implement the most appropriate mitigation techniques. The project deals not only with the resistance of structures in the occurrence of liquefaction but also with the collective urban community’s resilience
with respect to rapid recovery from a seismic event. Another area where high quality research has been undertaken at FEUP involves underwater robotics. The group at the Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory (LSTS) led by João Tasso has secured 5 million euros of funding with the EURMarineRobots project. The consortium brings together 15 European partners and intends to launch an infrastructure for the use of a network of autonomous marine systems, including aerial, surface and underwater vehicles. The main objective is to contribute towards environmental protection and monitoring and the sustainable development of the oceans, for now the least explored region on planet Earth, taking advantage of the strengths and potential of each European partner involved in this consortium.
2030 AGENDA: THE CHALLENGE OF INCLUSION
With the increase in average life expectancy, the aging of the population and society’s increasing concern with the inclusion of citizens, a whole range of possibilities in terms of technological innovation has opened up. Aware of this reality, FEUP’s Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Laboratory (LIACC) has developed an intelligent wheelchair that avoids obstacles and is controlled in a flexible and multimodal way. The IntellWheels project developed out of the need to transform a commercial wheelchair into an intelligent device, with reduced costs and few changes from an ergonomic point of view, allowing greater autonomy for its users. Coordinated by Luís Paulo Reis, the artificial intelligence project has guaranteed 1 million euros in Portugal 2020 funding for a consortium made up of FEUP, the University of Aveiro and 3 companies for the creation of a prototype that could be commercialized in the near future.
You may think that the coming years will be challenging in many areas, engineering being no exception. In fact, quite the opposite is true. As shown in this article, FEUP is living up to its status as the top engineering school in Portugal and continues to be at the forefront of research, contributing to improve the quality of life in our society.
200+ R&D projects with direct involvement of FEUP’s engineering in the area of health and well-being
Alumni Career Stories: the Mechanical Engineer overseeing the running of a pharmaceutical company
She loves her job, but can’t miss out on a good time dancing or a leisure trip. The former student of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), who also sings in the Porto Business School (PBS) Choir, is a real engineering enthusiast – you only need to mention her profession and Sara’s eyes shine! Being a fan of work life balance, the Mechanical Engineer is very active when it comes to personal and professional networking. Since 2013, she has led the Engineering and Maintenance Section team at the BIAL Group and underlines the importance of a close connection between the academic world and business – a long-standing view held by the pharmaceutical group to which she belongs.
Tell us briefly about your academic and professional career.
While still in the final year of my course at FEUP (01/02), I did an Erasmus semester at the University of Girona, Catalonia (01/02). Once I graduated, I enrolled in an intensive Italian course in Perugia, at the “Universitá per Stranieri de Perugia” and in that same year (2002) I began my professional career under the International Internship program INOV Contacto at the FREZITE company in Portugal and, later, in a company belonging to that group, J.PRATT in Sabadell, Catalonia.
After my stay in Spain, I returned to Portugal and joined Martifer as a Project Planner, but in 2006, I ventured abroad once more, doing a study exchange in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, organized by the Rotary Foundation. This experience was an important milestone in my life, as I had the
opportunity to get to know a new culture, both socially and professionally, as well as new ways of working and being in market competition. I visited several leading companies, including Randon, MarcoPolo, Todeschini and Tramontina. After the exchange, fate took me back to the land of ‘nuestros hermanos’ (our brothers) and I went to Barcelona, Catalonia, where I was Project Manager at Spark Iberica, a company belonging to the Vinci Energies Group. After so many opportunities and experiences abroad, I decided it was time to return to my own country. I was hired by the company Politérmica to carry out the role of HVAC Site Manager. In 2013 I joined the workforce of the BIAL Group, where I have been responsible for Engineering and Maintenance ever since.
“Work and truth” are the values that govern the professional life of the head of the Engineering and Maintenance Section at the BIAL Group. In charge of an 11-person team, the FEUP alumna works daily to ensure the smooth operation of the renowned pharmaceutical company.
Name: Sara Dias
Education: Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Fluid and Heat option, FEUP (1997-02);
Post-Graduate Degree in Air Conditioning at the “Escola Superior d’Enginyeria Industrial de Barcelona”, with the support of the UPC Foundation of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (2006) Company where she works: BIAL Job role: Responsible for Engineering and Maintenance
What exactly do you do at BIAL?
Before going into my specific functions within the company, I would like to share a curiosity about how I got into BIAL. It was as a result of a ‘mailing list’ sent to INOV Contacto participants from the edition in which I participated (nº6) that I became aware of the opportunity!
The list of my responsibilities at BIAL as Head of Engineering and Maintenance is quite extensive. Some of them involve planning, organizing and controlling the activities of the Engineering and Maintenance Section (EMS), maximizing available resources, as well as managing engineering projects associated with Equipment, Infrastructure and Buildings (EIB). Furthermore, it is my responsibility to ensure the preparation and execution of the Annual Preventive Maintenance Plan, to conduct follow-up action on Corrective Maintenance and monitor the KPIs of the Industrial Maintenance Service (IMS) and the Engineering and Qualifications Service (EQS). I am also responsible for drawing up the budget and the three-year strategic plan, as well as monitoring the EMS’s budget compliance. Basically, my team of 11 members and I work on a daily basis to oversee the proper functioning of the company.
BIAL is a leading national and international company. In terms of strategy, is it an institution with a close relationship with academia?
The BIAL Group has a long history of collaboration with universities, especially when it comes to partnerships and collaboration programs, and it promotes ongoing training of its employees. As an example, in 2015 I had the company’s support to undertake a bespoke training course “Develop 4 The Future”, a partnership between the pharmaceutical company and Porto Business School (PBS). The outcome of this training, in which I had the opportunity to attend some MBA courses, was extremely positive. In 2019 I had another training opportunity, this time in Project Management through PBS’s Open Executive Programme.
Going back a few years in time… What fond memories do you have of FEUP?
Rua dos Bragas, where the Faculty was initially located and where I was for the first three years, brings me wonderful
memories. Despite the buildings being spaced apart physically, colleagues from the various courses felt very close!
Engenharia Rádio also brings back some funny memories, not just of the colleagues who took part in it, but also the “programmes” they made. My year’s praxe (initiation) was effectively a fun and motivating way of integrating. I remember that I was always very pampered / adored by my classmates. I had a lot of support from the coordinator of the Mechanical Engineering course, at that time Professor Carlos Magalhães Oliveira, especially when, around the 3rd year, I started to have some doubts about whether I had chosen the right course.
I am grateful for the academic foundations that FEUP has given me, for the contacts I established with colleagues and teachers and for the way I learned to deal with situations in life: when faced with a challenge and a problem, there is always a solution.
Do you think that FEUP has the ‘power’ to keep in touch with its graduates?
Yes. I feel that there is great concern for all Alumni, as seen clearly in the various activities they promote. I was present at the latest FEUP Home Return event (2019), and I think it was a success. I really enjoyed it! it was very well organized, with “teambuilding” activities and a real opportunity to meet colleagues that I hadn’t seen for some time.
What advice would you give to students who are currently studying and want to succeed in their professional lives?
Good academic foundations and some mental gymnastics are essential to achieve professional success and to acquire transversal knowledge. Even though it is certain that we will never know everything, it is very important to know where to look and who to turn to; asking for help is not a sign of weakness!
WE BELIEVE IN THE POTENTIAL OF THE STUDENTS AT THE FACULTIES WHERE WE HAVE INSTALLED OUR 5G ANTENNASInterview: Raquel Pires Photo: D.R.
A highlight of the last edition of the Vodafone Paredes de Coura festival was the holographic broadcast that successfully reproduced the full-body image of journalist José Alberto Carvalho in the improvised studio on the festival grounds. The 5G two-way communication effectively reduced a distance of over 400 kilometres, with no glitches. Although Vodafone has launched the system commercially in several markets, operators in Portugal are still waiting for licenses. However, the FEUP campus already has a 5G antenna to test the new technology. Pedro Santos, Head of Vodafone 5G Hub, and alumnus from the Faculty of Engineering, explains the reasons for this choice.
What are the advantages of the 5G system?
The next generation of mobile networks – 5G – is based on a wide range of new technical features that will provide users with innovative and disruptive applications. The three main features are: higher speed – the network will be up to ten times faster than it is today, enabling high quality video viewing (e.g. 8K), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications, as well as online gaming with mobile internet; lower latency – with up to five times lower response time, allowing instant internet for services with critical communications needs such as autonomous vehicles that coordinate with each other for greater road safety and energy efficiency; more connected devices – with an ability to connect up to 1 million devices per km2, unlocking the true potential of the internet of things (IoT).
How did you come up with the idea of installing a 5G antenna on the FEUP campus?
2018 saw the setting up of the 5G Hub, an innovation nerve centre for the study and development of the 5G ecosystem in PortugalVodafone. One of the pillars of this open laboratory for the production of knowledge and innovation is based on the relationship with the academic world, with FEUP being one of its strategic partners.
The pre-commercial phase of 5G in which we find ourselves is an ideal time to explore the full potential of the new generation of mobile networks, as well as to find use cases that will revolutionize the mobile services we currently know. Given the innovative nature of the intended project, nothing beats being able to count on the participation of the most reputable national and international universities, such as FEUP.
We believe in the potential of the students at the faculties where we have installed our 5G antennas and we want to provide them with the conditions and opportunities to create new projects based on current technology that is cutting-edge and resilient. Since innovation is not confined to large companies, Vodafone wishes to offer sup-
port and help create all the conditions for FEUP students to continually remain at the forefront of the anticipated technological revolution that the fifth mobile generation will bring, so that, together, we can create disruptive projects powered by the 5G network.
How will this technology enhance the incubation of new companies at the Asprela hub?
Today there is already an ecosystem of technology companies that gravitate towards the Asprela hub, particularly at UPTEC, with whom Vodafone has also collaborated for some years through its start-up incubation and acceleration program, the Vodafone Power Lab.
The availability of Vodafone’s 5G test network will open the door for new companies to be associated, who see in this technology the potential to develop new products and services, and can thus join the Vodafone 5G Hub partner network and contribute towards influencing the future of mobile communications.
What is Vodafone’s position with regard to the link between universities/faculties?
Innovation is everywhere and it is necessary to search, study and know how to listen. At Vodafone, we believe that original, out-of-the-box ideas make the difference and give rise to technological developments. The human personality behind technology is absolutely essential for its development and success – technology does not work alone and universities and colleges are a key element in these developments. As we are a nation with a huge aptitude for technology, and we have outstanding universities that help train qualified professionals, Portugal has everything to stand out by taking advantage of new technologies, and Vodafone wishes to provide all the necessary tools for students to create unique projects.
It is with this aim that Vodafone 5G Hub has the Academy as one of its pillars, and has decided to enter into partnership with nationally and internationally reputable universities, such as FEUP and IST.
The human personality behind technology is absolutely essential for its development and successtechnology does not work alone and universities and colleges are a key element in these developments.
Aequitas: a software that detects discrimination in artificial intelligence systems
What was meant to be a short stay at the University of Chicago, USA, turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. With a doctorate in Computer Engineering, 33-year-old Pedro Saleiro ended up spending two years on the team of Rayid Ghani, a former analyst for Barack Obama. The Faculty of Engineering alumnus has been involved in several projects that show how data analysis and artificial intelligence can assist the world.
It is no secret that technology based on big data and machine learning is increasingly being widely adopted by the banking and healthcare sectors as well as by government and law enforcement. Artificial intelligence has enormous potential for improving the quality of public services as it allows governments to allocate human and financial resources where they are most needed and where they can have the greatest impact on society. However, recent news – especially in the US – warns of the risk of using intelligent systems that impact unfairly on private citizens by learning and spreading the discrimination and prejudice that exist in society.
Pedro Saleiro is a PhD graduate in Computer Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) and a Data Science Manager at Feedzai. During his post-doc at the University of Chicago, he developed a tool that enables auditing of AI-based decision support systems and which can detect various types of discrimination, whether racial, gender, age or even religious. The software, known as Aequitas, is targeted for use by data scientists and government agencies, and has been mentioned in an article in the renowned journal Nature.Text: Raquel Pires Image: rights reserved
Developed at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, Aequitas is free to use and allows models to be audited before they are used in production, breaking down different error metrics by different population groups and thus detecting various types of discrimination. “Let’s imagine that I want to develop a system that detects the risk of developing diabetes in the next three years: it is important that the system works just as well in the interior of the country as on the coast, or among certain minority groups or ethnicities, because we would otherwise be exacerbating inequalities. It is essential to audit AI-based decision support systems and make the results known before these systems are used by public authorities”, explains the young researcher.
During his post-doc at the University of Chicago under the guidance of Rayid Ghani (the Chief Data Scientist behind the Obama campaign in 2012), Pedro Saleiro mainly worked on AI projects dealing with public policy and social impact, involved in ethical and transparency issues, as well as more practical projects in partnerships with public authorities that
have problems that can be solved with big data and computer learning. The FEUP alumnus believes that “it is crucial to train data scientists and public administration staff so that they are able to assess the ethical risks and the medium-term impact of any intelligent system that affects the lives of citizens, regardless of whether the systems are developed. in-house or purchased from third parties”.
Not least because – as Pedro Saleiro argues – the trend of using AI-based predictive models is increasing: whether to decide on bail for detainees, admit students to universities, or candidates for a job vacancy, not to mention access to credit. We are particularly concerned here with situations where it is vital that the predictive models used work without any type of discrimination or reasons to raise ethical questions.
ALUMNI AMBASSADORS @FEUP: RUI GUIMARÃES
Switching from Electrical Engineering to IT and swapping Porto for New Zealand, Rui Guimarães has never been afraid of change or challenges. Now, as a software engineer for one of New Zealand’s best-known brands, e-commerce company Trade Me, he knows he’s found his place. But what he has retained is an affection for his university and pride in being a FEUP Alumni Ambassador.
Was it difficult swapping Porto for Christchurch, in New Zealand? Exchanging our city, our home, for another place is never easy. When that place is on the opposite side of the world, it’s even less easy. Moving to New Zealand wasn’t difficult, though. And, above all, it was the right time.
Why New Zealand and how did the opportunity to explore new horizons beyond Portugal arise?
The choice of New Zealand was a matter of opportunity. Having already lived abroad, my wife and I – both of us FEUP alumni – knew that our future path would not be passing through Portugal. We looked at various alternatives, including Australia and Canada, and ended up deciding that we would head to New Zealand, specifically Christchurch. And here we are.
You were in Delft, in the Netherlands, taking part in the Erasmus Programme. Was that where your desire to know other places began?
Yes, definitely. My travel awakening began at Orfeão Universitário do Porto, where we did a lot of travelling around the country and sometimes abroad. That was followed by interrailing around Europe and the experience of going on Erasmus while at FEUP, something I recommend to everyone who has the opportunity. Delft was one of the places where I had the best experiences of my life and where I made many of the strong friendships I still have today. From then on, the more I travelled, the more I was convinced that I knew so little of the world, especially of cultures so different from ours. I’ve been to many countries on every continent (except Antarctica, which is very curious because I know most of the planes flying there depart from Christchurch, having already been inside them), to the point of losing count. Even so, I still feel like I know next to nothing.
From Electrical and Computer Engineering to IT and Computational Engineering in 2005. Why did you change course? And why did you choose FEUP?
FEUP is one of the best engineering universities in Portugal.
As I’m from Porto, it wouldn’t have made sense to choose any other place to spend my years at university. I’ve always felt I have an engineer’s spirit through and through. At the start, I believed that Electrical and Computer Engineering was what I would most identify with, but, over time, I realized that my passion was in Information Technology.
Why your candidacy for Alumni Ambassador?
I’ve always been very attached to the faculty, even after completing my degree. By moving to New Zealand, that strong bond would, of course, fade. Being an Alumni Ambassador has helped me rebuild those ties, while also giving me the opportunity to help all those at FEUP who, like me, want to move to this side of the world or know a little more so that they can make a better decision.
In your opinion, what contributions can these embassies make to the FEUP community?
I believe that embassies help people to consider opportunities that are very different from our everyday ones. There are large groups of FEUP alumni in cities like London, Paris or Dublin, but there are also alumni in less-known places like New Zealand, Qatar or even Vanuatu. These people remain connected to their academic home, sharing their day-to-day experiences.
Is New Zealand part of your future plans or would you like to be able to return to Portugal and stay here with your family?
Initially, New Zealand was a two-year experience, then moving on to five and now eight years. The adventure began for us a couple, both with a temporary work visa, and now we are a family of four, all with New Zealand citizenship. Right now, New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world to live in, especially because of the excellent balance between work and home. I’m not saying that a return will never happen one day, but that day won’t be in the near future. New Zealand is a place where we feel safe and is now our home.
Porto was a key factor in our success
With 31 million customers,
collaborationInterview: Raquel Pires
What factors influenced installation of the Natixis skills centre in Porto?
The decision was taken after several studies and assess-
ments had been carried out in different European countries, according to a number of criteria: education, innovation & entrepreneurship, adaptation to French business culture, mentality and international experience. In the end, Portugal and Porto were the ideal choice for Natixis.
The Centre of Excellence in Information Technologies in the city of Porto demonstrated Portugal’s expertise in building an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation, with competitive advantages, not only from the perspective of infrastructure and technological integration, but also from its human resources profile: top university graduates, highly qualified in science and technology, multilingual and with an international professional culture.
And what is your assessment of these four years for your investment bank?
Natixis in Portugal is a real success story: we started the project from scratch and within three years we had hired over 800 people in the IT field in Portugal. This project was one of the largest investments in Human Resources ever made by Natixis globally. The choice of Portugal –and the city of Porto – was a decisive factor in our success. As part of a dynamic ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation – which now knows us very well – we were able to find the experience and talent that we couldn’t secure elsewhere. We have thus developed the necessary skills to strengthen Natixis’ global operations in terms of technology services.
As a result of this success, in 2020, the project grew with a mission of transforming traditional banking through the development of innovative solutions in the bank’s business, operations and work culture around the world. Therefore, in addition to IT, we integrated a new area of Banking Support Activities (middle office and back-office operations), reaching 1000 employees, by integrating new profiles in economic sciences. This new stage of our operation in Portugal reinforced our commitment to the team and will ensure that each person has the opportunity to choose their career, within an environment that allows them to grow, develop and make an impact on the company.
Connecting with universities is part of your culture. Was it a determining factor in joining FEUP PRIME?
We believe that our links with universities and other educational institutions is a key factor for us to drive our competitive advantage as an employer, as well as to increase our talent pool. With all the knowledge and connections acquired in this relationship with the FEUP PRIME program, we work to continually improve our recruitment and retention processes, as well as build the community around Natixis through partnerships, events and much more. Each year we take on around 100 recent graduates and, in fact, many of them first come across us while still at university. This approach to FEUP has also brought us an inexhaustible source of innovation and creativity, two of the greatest assets that students can bring to companies.
As a technology hub, what profiles do you value when looking for new talent?
We want to recruit professionals who identify with the Natixis culture and mindset and who are available to develop with us. We are looking for people with a predisposition to learn, with agile and
Following a detailed and rigorous assessment, the city of Porto was chosen for installing the Natixis technology hub in Portugal in 2017.
Groupe BPCE, the second largest banking group in France, to which Natixis belongs, is in the talented hands of Portuguese engineers, those “agile, innovative entrepreneurs”. Four years on, they believe there is still room to expand, and wish to do so in close
with universities. Etienne Huret, Chief Executive of Natixis in Portugal, tells us how.Photo: rights reserved
The Natixis universe
With global profits of €9.2 billion in 2019, Natixis is the international corporate and investment banking, asset management, insurance and financial services division of Groupe BPCEBanque Populaire et Caisse d’Epargne, the second largest banking group in France, with 31 million customers, two retail banking networks and around 16,000 employees in 38 countries. In 2020, for the fourth consecutive year, the company was certified as Top Employer from the Top Employers Institute, one of the most internationally recognized Human Resources awards.
innovative thinking, proactive attitude and a collaborative and multicultural mindset. Diversity is a key value for Natixis.
Given that some teams are being created from scratch, we are also looking for professionals with experience in the company’s areas of activity, who bring with them the right know-how, allowing us to develop them more quickly. In addition to the IT area, in which we employ more than 800 people, Natixis in Portugal is also betting on banking support activities (in both cases, we are looking for profiles ranging from junior to senior).
In three words: how would you define the Portuguese engineers at Natixis?
Agile, innovative entrepreneurs. Natixis in Portugal is the best combination of a “start-up mindset” with the traditional large-scale, solid structure of a multinational: it is small enough to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit, big enough to operate globally. Natixis’ unique culture gives real meaning to the slogan “beyond banking” which describes our corporate identity: being a true entrepreneur, selfchallenging, striving for excellence and continually exceeding expectations.
Though based in Porto, our work is integrated and interlinked with all the countries in which Natixis operates. However, our spontaneous and carefree way of relating to one another and integrating new team members reflects how we
relate to different business areas. Despite this less traditional and more relaxed corporate approach, we have become a benchmark for the company as a whole, as a source of innovative solutions and advanced projects. Although we know we are part of something bigger, we encourage a spirit of ingenuity that will lead us to ask questions which will in turn cause us to do things differently.
We are an example of agility, flexibility and transparency as well as showing how to break the geographical and cultural barriers which are currently challenging the banking sector.
What can we expect from the Porto technology centre in the medium/long term?
We are very focused on solidifying what we have done so far and, of course, on growing our reputation as an innovation ecosystem, as well as developing the quality and diversity of the services we deliver to the parent company.
We intend to go on bringing innovation and transformation to the heart of Natixis and building a responsible team of entrepreneurs, as well as leveraging the talent of Portuguese universities and start-ups while creating globally recognized skills in technology, core banking and process transformation.
BETWEEN MUSIC, MAGIC AND PHYSICS
In his prime at 22 years old, Fernando Maia combines his studies at the Faculty of Engineering with a career in music as a drummer. Meanwhile, he still has time for doing tricks and performing magic shows. But what is perhaps most impressive is the fact that the young man believes that these three “lives” are ultimately all interconnected and the same form of “art”.Text: Mafalda Leite Photo: João Fitas
Lasers, wands, drumsticks and drums. Not everyone may recognize the connection between these objects, but for Fernando Maia, this is his world. The Physics Engineering student, who can be found walking the corridors of both the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) and the Faculty of Sciences (FCUP), recognizes the “insatiable curiosity” that runs in his veins, loving every project he takes on. From percussion and magic to engineering, he does not lack passion.
Little by little he has discovered more about the three arts that he has been following over many years, sometimes by chance, sometimes by choice, but never under obligation. From an early age he has known and understood what he likes and felt a desire to explore the world. So, he set out on the journey and undertook to “learn its secrets”, experiencing everything as much as he could.
In 2011, at just 13 years old, Fernando decided to enter a music school. He had always liked to listen to various styles of music – classical, pop, electronic, rock, metal and progressive – and the electric guitar seemed to strike the right chord to begin his life as a musician. At the same time, he developed a taste for the rhythm section, and ended up having drum lessons while at the same time joining some bands, mainly doing covers.
But percussion and strings alone were not enough. In 2013, around his 15th birthday, his interest in illusionism had strengthened and, when choosing a present, he went for a magic set by the Portuguese illusionist Luís de Matos, whom he greatly admired. It was behind the TV screen with a deck of cards in hand that the student began to take his first steps –or first cards – in the magical world of illusionism, eventually turning professional himself.
With music and magic already in the bag, Fernando’s interest in physics would come only later, after he had spent time at the FCUP Summer School of Physics, in year 11 of secondary school. By coming into direct contact with materials and projects in this area, he quickly realized that he “did not want to follow in the footsteps of 90% of his family members, who work in the health area”, proud of his decision to be “an exception in the family”.
Choosing the Integrated Master in Physical Engineering at FEUP, a course where you learn to “find solutions to solve problems”, was, therefore, the natural and logical thing for Fernando to do. “Being able to describe natural phenomena through mathematical equations and being able to predict them is something that has always fascinated me”, he explains.
Passion for the unknown and desire to understand the reason for everything that surrounds us are some of the reasons that led the student to embark on this “exhilarating” area, which always brings something new. With an eager desire to continually do more, Fernando could not neglect another of his passions and so it was also at the beginning of his academic career that he began a professional career in music.
Fernando’s love of rhythm led to the formation of the band “Phase Transition” in 2018, during his 2nd year as a student in higher education, together with colleagues from Physical Engineering and Bioengineering, in which he was the drummer. “Four engineers in a progressive metal band… I think that’s a recipe for everything to go well!”, he admits, jokingly. The project, which combines classical music, jazz and fusion with metal and progressive music, is currently on the rise, and the band recently released their first EP “Relatively Speaking” consisting of two singles.
We are explorers seeking the laws that govern the universe so we can use them to our advantage
At this stage in his life, Fernando is currently less focused on his magic side, which has excited him since he was a child, but it still continues to play a part in his routine through sporadic professional performances at corporate events and weddings.
Although his life may be fast-paced, you would be mistaken to think that Fernando disconnects himself from all his arts in order to be able to perform each one individually since they all interconnected, and there is indeed no escaping engineering in any of his passions. “To produce/record music, you need to understand signal acquisition and processing, an area that has fascinated me since the last Curricular Unit I had. It’s amazing to be able to apply various concepts from my course to music”, Fernando reveals, combining scientific knowledge and talent.
Back in the world of magic, Fernando evokes the dawn of humanity to make an analogy about the “engineering” undertaken by Homo erectus in creating the first sparks and discovering the “magic” of controlling fire, something that at the time would have been fascinating and inexplicable.
For Fernando, balancing all his tasks during the 24 hours that make up a day can even be an arduous task, but it is something he accepts and does with
pleasure and peace of mind. “I confess that it takes a huge effort to be able to do everything. I take advantage of all the metro trips to compose, practise rhythms in my head, handle the band’s logistics, study or talk to clients about magic shows. Taking advantage of all the ‘dead’ times is something I’m used to doing and it’s how I add more hours to my day”, admits the 22-year-old student.
Running short on time does not, however, prevent him from dedicating himself to other pleasures in life, such as a good movie or a good book. “A Brief History of Time”, by Stephen Hawking, is one of the works he keeps in mind, both because it was written by one of his great idols, and because it was one of the books that most inspired him and made him question the existence of things.
Fernando is not sure what the future holds, but he knows that his curious mind will make him go on exploring and further broadening his horizons. And he never hides his pride in the path he has comes to take. “Now, already in my 5th year as a student, I am sure that being an engineer, and in particular a physicist, completely changes the way we look at the world. We are explorers seeking the laws that govern the universe so we can use them to our advantage”, he concludes.
Leonor Sá, Álvaro Samagaio and Diogo Malafaya, alumni from the Integrated Master in Bioengineering, won the 4th edition of the international competition Devogame by Devoteam, which recognizes technological solutions developed by university students, with a project for an online application capable of combating fake news.
January 13 marked the 183rd anniversary of Portugal’s first engineering school. FEUP Day brought together a series of public tributes and recognition, reinforcing the spirit of the academic community: students, professors, technicians, alumni, retirees and companies with close links to the institution. Cláudia Azevedo, CEO of SONAE, was the guest of honour at the ceremony.
Belém Cultural Centre, Camões Theatre, Expo’98, Vasco da Gama Shopping, Algarve Shopping, Vilamoura Marina Hotel… they all have a common trait, namely the handiwork of António Segadães Madeira Tavares, winner of the 2nd edition of the FEUP Career Award. The award, given annually, aims to recognise FEUP graduates who have excelled in their careers.
Ana Luísa Gonçalves, researcher at FEUP’s Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy Laboratory (LEPABE), was one of four young Portuguese scientists awarded the prestigious L’Oréal Portugal Medals of Honour for Women in Science, awarded by the multinational cosmetics giant.
“Hidden Forms: revealing the interior of wood” presented FEUP with the work of Fernando Nunes Ferreira who, after more than 40 years in the service of teaching and research at the Faculty, is now dedicated to the creation of turned wood pieces. On display in the FEUP Library, the exhibition brought together a selection of works representing the language of Nunes Ferreira’s art and handicraft, including documents illustrating the process of specialized technical knowledge that the author has developed.
Pedro Siza Vieira, Minister of State, the Economy and Digital Transition, was at FEUP and INESC TEC for a visit as part of the Government’s Digital Week. The initiative aimed to raise awareness of new support measures for digital transition, especially those aimed at boosting technologybased entrepreneurship.
Selected by the International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering, the article by Rodrigo Moreira, a master’s and doctoral alumnus in Informatics and Computer Engineering, was considered one of the 26 most influential papers of the last 30 years in the field of Software Engineering.Photo: rights reserved
The PhD thesis by researcher Tiago Ferradosa, from the Department of Civil Engineering, was one of the winners of the Portuguese Association of Water Resources awards. His work focuses on optimizing the foundations of offshore wind turbines in the context of climate change and extreme sea wave events.
FEUP was awarded 900,000 euros in funding under the European H2020 program to lead the SurfSAFE project, an initiative that involves several European universities in the development of innovative solutions – based on biofilms – to increase microbial safety in the food industry.
Aires Colaço, PhD researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering, was distinguished with the 2019 Young Engineer Innovation Award, awarded by the Ordem dos Engenheiros – Southern region. The €10,000 prize is awarded annually to the authors of the best research paper produced by engineering graduates under the age of 35.
Focused on combating the pandemic, a research team from FEUP’s Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy (LEPABE), led by professor and researcher Adélio Mendes, created a low-cost oxygen concentrator with the aim of delaying the need for patients to use a ventilator.
F. Xavier Malcata, full professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was distinguished with the International Dairy Foods Association Teaching Award in Dairy Manufacturing, awarded by the American Dairy Science Association, for his contributions in the field of food engineering. Highlights of his pioneering approaches include developing nutraceutical ingredients and functional foods as well as characterizing and improving traditional Portuguese foods.
The European Society for Structural Integrity awarded the Robert Moskovic 2020 Award to Rui Calçada, Full Professor and Director of the Department of Civil Engineering, in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the area of “Railway Structure and Infrastructure Integrity”.
Participation of a group of scientists from FEUP and the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, all of them members of CENTRA –Centre for Astrophysics and Gravitation – in the development of METIS (Mid-infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph), a powerful instrument that will equip the world’s largest telescope – the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).
RE-CITY, a European project coordinated by FEUP’s Research Centre for Territory, Transport and Environment (CITTA), is to invest 6 million euros – from the Horizon 2020 Programme, through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – in the search for innovative solutions to “revitalize” shrinking cities, a phenomenon that affects between 20 and 30% of European cities.
João Borges de Sousa, director of FEUP’s Underwater Systems and Technology Laboratory (LSTS), was one of the nominees for the recently created NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Innovation Advisory Board. Formally launched in May, its main objective is to contribute to the development of unmanned solutions capable of operating both above and below water.
Manuel Matos Fernandes, Full Professor of the Civil Engineering Department, is author of a new textbook published by Taylor & Francis. The book combines, in a single endeavour, a textbook to assist students in understanding the behaviour of the main geotechnical works and a guide for practising geotechnical engineers, designers and consultants. Entitled Analysis and Design of Geotechnical Structures (10 chapters and 731 pages), it was published by CRC Press of the Taylor & Francis Group.
Together with a team of researchers from the Federal University of Piauí in Brazil, João Tavares, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, focused on improving the early diagnosis of Acute Lymphoid Leukemia and Acute Myeloid Leukemia, proposing the automatic detection of pathologies through image processing and machine learning techniques. The study earned him an Honourable Mention at the International Conference on Systems, Signals and Image Processing 2020.
Cláudio Lopes, a former student of the Doctoral Program in Mechanical Engineering and an international specialist in composite materials, was awarded a grant of approximately 4 million euros by the Luxembourg National Research Fund, for scientific research in the field of ultralight composite materials.
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The 2020 edition of the FEUP Career Fair took place not as usual in corridor B, but in a virtual environment. It was an opportunity for students to introduce themselves, exchange ideas and consult in detail the job offers from over 80 companies registered in this edition.
The Portuguese researcher Miguel Xavier, graduate in the Biomedical Engineering branch of FEUP’s Master in Bioengineering, was distinguished by the European Commission with an individual Marie Curie scholarship worth 160,000 euros. “GASTRIC” is the name of the award-winning project, focused on the development of an automated device that simulates intestinal digestion and absorption of drugs or food supplements taken orally.Photo: Francisco Piqueiro
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The BIN@ network’s annual event returned in 2020 in digital format under the motto “Innovation for the Future of Humanity”. With speakers from the academic and business sector, from Latin America, Europe and other regions of the world, the event’s main purpose was to connect, debate and promote interactions on the main challenges facing the future of humanity, in the year that marked 10 years since the network’s creation.
The Mário Quartin Graça 2020 Scientific Award in the category of Technology and Natural Sciences was awarded to Monique Branco, a former student of the Doctoral Program in Chemical and Biological Engineering. Her thesis focused on the feasibility of producing biofuels from microalgae, making use of the waste generated in this process for extracting other products with market value.
FEUP researcher Maria Helena Braga was distinguished as “Personality of the Year” by the jury of the 2020 edition of the “The Best of Technological Portugal” awards, presented to those “who do the most for Science and Technology” in the country. With work published since 2014 on the use of glass electrolytes, the researcher is an international reference when it comes to development of the revolutionary new generation of solid electrolyte batteries.
The Semibreve Festival, an electronic music and digital art event, awarded a prize to the artistic installation “Hiato”, on display at the Tibães Monastery, in Braga, by Mariana Vilanova and Francisco Oliveira, students of the Master in Multimedia. It was designed to provide a pause and moment of contemplation for visitors embarking on a journey between past and present.
Manuel Simões, senior researcher at LEPABE at FEUP, was one of twelve Portuguese scientists – ten of whom are working in Portugal – who are part of the exclusive group of Highly Cited Researchers 2020, a compilation made by Clarivate – Web of Science, bringing together the most cited scientists in the world.
Afonso Cunha, a Master’s student in Software Engineering, had great difficulty finding relevant information about certain tourist attractions in one of the world’s most visited cities. A year later, the digital application he created to solve this problem was considered the best Tourism start-up in the 2020 edition of Tourism Explorers.
R&D units whose host institution is FEUP or interface institutes
R&D units whose host institution is external to FEUP
FEUP academic staff participating in R&D Structures rated Exceptional, Excellent or Very Good, or Associated Laboratories