Having obtained my licenciatura in Mechanical Engineering in 1973, I started an MSc in Applied Mechanics at Imperial College London the year after the carnation revolution in Portugal. Later, I prepared my PhD at Cranfield Institute of Technology (now Cranfield University). After 5 years in the UK, I returned to Porto with my MSc and PhD degrees to start an appointment as assistant professor at FEUP in 1980.
Portugal was then struggling with a radical change of circumstances: from a country with overseas colonies, impoverished by a dictatorship and wars against liberation movements in Africa, to a European country and democracy with a dramatic lack of infrastructure. Research was certainly not a priority!
In 1986 Portugal joined the European Communities, and in 1999 was one of the initial member countries adopting the Euro. Among other setbacks, bad choices of priorities (an excessive emphasis on services with neglect of manufacturing, or heavy investment in motorways with complete neglect of railways) marked the path until todays’ situation. Nevertheless, attention dedicated to scientific and technical research grew steadily in the past decades; and 2020 started with the country displaying good prospects as regards financial stability and renewed interest for manufacturing and exports.
Having moved from assistant professor to full professor, with sabbaticals and visiting professorships in several countries, and participation in juries for selection of academic staff in many institutions, I had the possibility of witnessing the transformations in the engineering education scene in Portugal and elsewhere.
The communication will discuss lessons learned throughout my 40+ years academic career, put in the context of a highly diversified set of external circumstances.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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