A delegation of UMBC faculty and staff traveled to Portugal’s University of Porto (U. Porto) October 3 – 7, 2016, to sign a cooperation agreement expanding and formalizing an ongoing partnership between the two universities. The group, led by Antonio Moreira, vice provost for academic affairs, also included Marc Zupan, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Lee Blaney, assistant professor of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering; and Brian Souders, interim director of international education services.
UMBC’s collaboration with the University of Porto stems from a longstanding informal relationship between Moreira and Sebastião Feyo de Azevedo, rector of the University of Porto and former dean of the U. Porto College of Engineering. U. Porto’s Faculty of Engineering and UMBC’s College of Engineering and Information Technology signed an initial agreement in 2009. Since then, more than 50 U. Porto students have come to UMBC to conduct research for their integrated master’s theses. Around 20 percent of these visiting U. Porto students have gone on to enroll in UMBC doctoral programs.
The new agreement opens up even more opportunities for student and faculty exchanges between the two institutions. In particular, U. Porto and UMBC students and faculty will now be eligible to study at each other’s institution with support from the European Union’s ERASMUS+ initiative, a program that enables exchanges between European and North American universities. UMBC is one of very few North American universities partnered with U. Porto through this program, and ERASMUS+ may prove especially beneficial as the UMBC-U. Porto partnership expands beyond its engineering-focused core.
“I am proud to be part of this strong partnership between the University of Porto and UMBC,” shares Zupan. He spent 2012 – 2013 at U. Porto as a Fulbright Scholar to develop a course focused on global engineering. That course has been incorporated into the UMBC undergraduate curriculum, and it provides students from UMBC and U. Porto an opportunity to tackle engineering challenges across geographic and linguistic barriers through online collaboration tools.
“We look forward to growing the cooperation between our two universities over the coming years with this new agreement,” said Moreira after the signing ceremony. Feyo de Azevedo added, “This university-wide agreement will broaden the cooperation between our institutions to include more opportunities for exchange of students, faculty, and staff, and for stronger research collaborations.”
Image: Antonio Moreira (left) shakes hands with Sebastião Feyo de Azevedo after signing the agreement.