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Home  > Knowledge Networks  > News  > Launching of the MIT - Portugal Program

Launching of the MIT - Portugal Program

 - 11/10/2006

Logo of MIT – Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal today, 11 October 2006, announced plans for the start of a long term collaboration, in a ceremony presided over by the Prime Minister José Sócrates, under the framework of the Knowledge Networks activities, with a view to substantially enlarging research into and the teaching of Engineering and Management in the main Portuguese universities.

This far-reaching initiative will be the most extensive of its kind ever carried out by the Portuguese Government and will involve teachers, researchers and students and a consortium of Faculties of Engineering, Sciences and Technologies, Economics and Management in seven higher educational establishments in Portugal, as well as a large number of Research Units, Associated Laboratories and State Laboratories.

This long-term collaboration was conceived following an evaluation study carried out by MIT between February 2006, the time when the Agreement on the MIT – Portugal Program Preparation was signed, and July 2006, and involved various professors from MIT, who concluded, inter alia, that: “…The research excellence found in the Portuguese research centres when carrying out this evaluation exercise leads to the recommendation that MIT instigates collaboration projects with Portuguese institutions. Furthermore, the Portuguese Government’s drive to reinforce science and technology and promote international collaboration in the areas of higher education and science and technology makes Portugal an interesting country in which to carry out research and a relevant partner in future collaboration projects in an emerging globalized and knowledge-based economy.

The MIT-Portugal Program involves more than 40 professors from all of MIT’s Faculties and will carry out teaching and research initiatives, and provide MIT with the opportunity to obtain information on the planning, design and implementation of transportation, energy, industrial manufacture and bioengineering systems in Portugal, all of which are critical sectors in the global economy. Teaching staff will be encouraged to publish new materials through the MIT OpenCourseWare.

The MIT-Portugal Program forms part of an important initiative undertaken by the Portuguese Government which seeks to reinforced its knowledge base at a national and international level through strategic investment in people, knowledge and ideas. The Program was announced today in a public session chaired by the Prime Minister, José Socrates, in the presence of senior figures from MIT and the Portuguese institutions involved in this collaboration.

The Engineering component of the MIT-Portugal Program will be coordinated by MIT Systems Engineering Division, an interdisciplinary body in which the teaching staff come from the areas of Engineering, Management and Social Sciences and, as such, possess an integrated perspective of large complex systems which have a significant impact on societies and economies.

“The establishing of the MIT-Portugal Program is part of a series of collaborations currently successfully underway between teaching staff, and will bring new ideas, both academically and in terms of research, to areas in which large complex systems are fundamental to all the institutions involved. This relationship will constitute an extremely interesting step forward as it will enable both parties to collaborate on scientific and technological discoveries which will be critical for the future of Portugal, important for MIT and which will have an impact on Europe, both to the North, and to the South in the Mediterranean,” stated Tom Magnanti, Dean of the MIT Engineering School.

The program will develop research and teaching in various focal areas of strategic importance, both for MIT and for Portugal. In the Engineering Design Advanced Manufacturing Processes (EDAM) Project, the MIT – Portugal Program will set up high quality teaching programs and research initiatives in the design and development of products and technological leadership, with the aim of establishing a generation of entrepreneurial leaders with training in the fundamental aspects of these three areas. New Programs for “Professional/Executive Masters” will be established as well as PhD programs in a network of Portuguese Engineering Faculties, with the involvement of top Research Units and companies.

A key area of involvement of EDAM will be the development of interaction between universities and local industries in the sectors concerning medical equipment, aeronautics and automobiles, with the aim of identifying areas of teaching and knowledge with the greatest potential impact on the country.

The MIT-Portugal Program will collaborate with various Portuguese universities and research laboratories in the area of sustainable energy systems to set up advanced research activities and a Postgraduate course involving teaching staff and students throughout the country to promote teaching and research into innovative energy systems. Emphasis will be given to renewable energy systems and their integration into energy networks, as well as within the energy economy and industrial ecology. MIT will collaborate with Portuguese teaching staff in the setting up of Professional/Executive Masters courses and a PhD in energy systems, as well as shorter vocational courses.

As regards transportation systems, the design of large complex transportation systems is considered to have significant social impact and this constitutes an opportunity for sustainable economic development throughout the whole country. The program will consider teaching and research initiatives with an emphasis on regional intermodal transportation planning, particularly taking into consideration the planning of the new Lisbon airport and the high speed railway network which will link the main Portuguese cities to the rest of Europe, and the setting up of several urban and interurban Intelligent Transportation Systems throughout the country. The development of Professional/Executive Masters courses and PhD programs will also be included in this program.

Given the emergent talent in Portugal in the areas of bioreaction engineering, molecular biology, bioseparation, animal cell technology and enzyme engineering, initial work in the area of Bioengineering Systems will focus on the setting up of a new interinstitutional program of Postgraduate Courses and a PhD program in Bioengineering Systems which will seek to create a new generation of leaders in Portugal in technical innovation in Bioengineering. The academic collaboration with MIT will include developing a curriculum in innovation, bioprocesses, cell and tissue engineering, computational biosystems, biomaterials, neurosciences, medical e-technological devices and processes and strategic decision-making in biomedical companies. New initiatives in the area of bioengineering will also include R&D activities in industrial, health and environmental biotechnology.

Each of these specific areas will involve partnerships with companies linked to the MIT-Portugal Program, with the aim of promoting new consortia in collaboration with MIT, and thus opening new frontiers to transatlantic collaboration in science and in technology. EDAM will launch the first program involving companies linked to the program with a set of leader-enterprises in the automobile sector, including VW AutoEuropa, the largest car assembly enterprise in Portugal, and the main manufacturers of automobile parts.

The MIT-Portugal Program also has an engineering systems component that will integrate the main areas and develop fundamental concepts in engineering systems. Portugal and the ESD at MIT will work together on widening the teaching and practice of engineering and the setting up of a new area of studies and research in engineering. A new area of research will also be established at the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), with the aim of facilitating the realisation of these objectives. An important aspect of this work will be to analyse how universities, enterprises and the Government can collaborate so as to take advantage of the resources available from the MIT-Portugal Program, both in Portugal and at MIT.

The individuals responsible for the area of engineering systems in the MIT-Portugal Program are Professor Daniel Roos, Founding-Director of the Engineering Systems Division at MIT, and Professor Paulo Manuel Cadete Ferrão, Director of the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Research Policy at IST – Instituto Superior Técnico.

Concerning the management of the MIT-Portugal Program, professors from the MIT Sloan School of Management will collaborate with professors from Portuguese Universities in determining the programs to be developed and the scale of the collaboration program. The initial conversations will centre on the drawing-up of a Global MBA Program with the main management schools in Portugal, the development of an intermediate career program concerning business start-ups, which will bring together leading companies and Faculties of Engineering, and the launch of the Lisbon-Sloan Series of Seminars on Management Sciences. The institutions involved will be the Faculty of Economics and Management of the New University of Lisbon(FE/UNL), ISCTE – the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, the Institute for Economics and Management of the Technical University of Lisbon(ISEG/UTL), and the Portuguese Catholic University (FCEE/UCP). The International Scholarship Program for Teaching Staff from MIT Sloan School of Management will be a longer-term collaboration with the aim of providing international training and mentoring of teaching staff involving six-month periods at MIT Sloan. The Portuguese Teaching Staff will be responsible for designing their own programs from the courses on offer at MIT Sloan.

The main managing body for the MIT-Portugal Program is the Program Governing Committee, chaired by the President of the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and including the Chancellor of MIT, the Dean of the MIT Engineering School, the President of The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), as designated by the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and the directors of the Program at MIT and in Portugal.


Last updated ( 28/09/2011 )