MIT Graduate Transportation Researchers Reflect on Work with Portugal


As Master’s graduate Lisa Rayle (advisor: Chris Zegras) and PhD graduates Travis Dunn (advisor: Joe Sussman) and Angelo Guevara (advisor: Moshe Ben-Akiva) leave MIT this year, they share the experience of having dedicated their thesis research to Portuguese transportation and planning issues, and of collaborating in many ways with Portuguese students, faculty and transport stakeholders thanks to their involvement in the MIT-Portugal Program Transportation Systems focus area.

MIT-Portugal’s Director of Education Josh Jacobs sat down with the three new MIT graduates to talk about their experience working with Portuguese colleagues and how they see these collaborations continuing in their future careers.

JJ: Tell me about the ways in which your research built on the connection to Portugal.

AG: I spent a lot of time working in the Transportation Systems program, both as an instructor and as a researcher. I was a teaching assistant on two occasions in Portugal, with the Technology Planning and Performance Assessment and Transport Economics and Project Evaluation modules. I also shared lab space at MIT with visiting MPP students and interacted in research as part of my involvement with the SOTUR project with students and faculty from Portugal. I also worked to integrate Portuguese data into my thesis project model, on “Endogeneity and Sampling of Alternatives in Spatial Choice Models”. My research was mainly concerned with the implementation of a residential location choice model for the city of Lisbon, which was a component of a larger land-use model built, with other researchers, using an UrbanSim platform. Although in the end the dispersed zoning data across different municipalities was not complete enough to build a fully operational UrbanSim model, some valuable results were obtained.


Admitted Students for 2010 Reflect New Records in Applications, Internationalization, and Quality


The students admitted for 2010 to the four MPP doctoral programs and its Master’s in Complex Transportation Infrastructure Systems are the most selectively-admitted cohort in the Program’s history, and continue the Program’s record of strong internationalization with a second consecutive year of over 40% of accepted candidates from outside Portugal.

Out of 388 candidates for the doctoral courses, 101 were accepted to begin their studies in September 2010. This represents a new selectivity record with a 26% acceptance rate. The Master’s in Complex Transportation Infrastructure Systems course received 64 applications and accepted 25 students, an acceptance rate of 39%.

PhD_Selectivity_1The admitted candidates hail from Portugal and 25 other countries. They are graduates of such distinguished institutions as MIT, Imperial College London, the University of Michigan, ETH Zurich, Chalmers University of Technology, the Indian Institute of Technology—Bombay, and KTH Stockholm. And reflecting their strong interest in applying their studies to industrial and social challenges, the candidates had prior work experience  in international organizations including Volvo Sweden, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the Office of the Prime Minister of France, and the World Resources Institute.

Applications for the Advanced Studies courses in Sustainable Energy Systems and Technology Management Enterprise, closed on July 15,  showed continued strong interest, with a record 45 candidacies to Sustainable Energy Systems and 21 candidates to TME matching last year’s record level.  These courses aim at training mid career professionals of Portuguese and International companies to become leaders in Energy Systems and  Engineering Design. These future leaders come from Portuguese companies such as  Martifer, SECIL, Robbialac, REN, Portugal Telecom, OGMA, Solvay Portugal, Alstom Portugal, Siemens Portugal, Ericsson, and EDP. The candidates are graduates of prestigious universities including Yale, the University of Manchester and Chalmers University of Technology.


MIT Energy Initiative highlights collaborations of MIT and MPP students in improving energy efficiency in Lisbon buildings


A collaboration among two MIT PhD students and an MPP Sustainable Energy Systems doctoral student to improve building efficiency for Lisbon is highlighted in the current edition of the MIT Energy Initiative Newsletter.AGS_AwardWinningPoster_lr

Brought together by MIT Prof. Leon Glicksman to consider how their “separate research interests [could] help the city benefit from energy-saving interventions,” MIT students Carrie Brown and Steve Ray, and Sustainable Energy Systems student Nuno Clímaco Pereira based at IST-Lisbon, are focusing their research in three different domains on the challenges associated with retrofitting the Lisbon housing stock.

Starting with their Best Poster award at the 2009 annual meeting of the Alliance for Global Sustainability in Zurich, the three young researchers have continued to collaborate, taking advantage of Pereira’s research visit to MIT in 2009-10.

To read more about this collaboration, download the Spring 2010 MITEI Energy Futures newsletter.


Year-long Student Seminar Advances Research Dialogue in Transport, Energy at MIT


A student research seminar held throughout the 2009-2010 academic year at MIT helped create synergies among student researchers from MPP and from MIT in Sustainable Energy and Transportation Systems.TravisPresentation_crop_for_web

Organized by Prof. Chris Zegras and Dr. Josh Jacobs, coordinators of the Transportation Systems area at MIT, the seminar provided an informal research forum for eleven doctoral students, drawn equally from the MIT Portugal Program visitors and from MIT graduate students addressing MIT-Portugal research themes.

Instructed to speak without Powerpoints to maximize intereaction, the student researchers presented their ongoing work at MIT and in Portugal before a group interested in the methodological approaches of each project, and the benefit to Portugal of work in such diverse areas as urban energy consumption and Portuguese highway investment strategies.

Prof. Joseph Sussman, among the MIT faculty who participated in the seminar, commented on the value of having the sessions focused on creating dialogue around the central ideas and challenges in each project. "We had a good animated discussion in the year's last meeting, which brought together Nuno Clímaco Pereira's work on energy efficiency in buildings and Lisa Rayle's study of the role of collaboration in Portuguese urban renewal policies. I liked the approach of not using Powerpoints and look forward to this series continuing in the fall."


MIT Portugal PhD students selected to represent Portugal at Nobel Laureate meetings


Two doctoral students in the MIT Portugal Bioengineering program will represent half of the delegation from Portugal at the 60th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer in Germany.

David Malta and Carlos Rodriguez, both based at IST-Technical University of Lisbon, were nominated by Prof. João Sentieiro, the President of the Portuguese National Science Foundation (FCT), to represent their country at the prestigious gathering that brings young researchers and scholars from around the world together with many Nobel laureates.

Currently completing his research visit in the Sangeeta Bhatia lab at MIT, Malta said he was proud to represent Portugal and the MIT Portugal Program at this distinguished event. "This is a unique opportunity to be amongst some of the brightest minds in my field. This year in particular the presence of last year's laureates in Medicine and Physiology is striking. Their work on the discovery of HIV is for me one of the most important directions for research in public health."

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