StellaPORTO eportfolio

E-learning academics and practice

Before was the bridge

My life as a professor in a traditional university and the impact of my doctoral work
Ponte Rio Niteroi
In 1991, only a few months after starting my doctoral work in Informatics at PUC-Rio, a colleague spoke to me about the opportunity of going through the public examination at Universidade Federal Fluminense, to become a full-time assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunication Engineering. I had been away from engineering since 1987, when I went back to school to complete my master’s degree in Informatics, which I concluded in July of 1991, under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Menasce (Computer Science, George Mason University). Thus, the suggestion seemed somewhat awkward. I was convinced, however, after several conversations, that this was a unique opportunity. The telecommunications department was interested in hiring people with experience in computer science, and there would be teaching and research opportunities that would match well my background.

It was early December, when the exam took place in several phases. A written exam, for which a few topics were selected randomly the day before, and then an oral presentation, that would work as demonstration of teaching skills. The topic was also selected randomly. The examination committee was composed of 2 members of the institution and one external member. I did well in the written exam, but what took me to the first place was the teaching. The idea of mimicking a real classroom experience paid off.

The starting date was set for early 1992. However, at the time, I already had a scholarship to come to the US to work on research for my doctoral with my advisor at the time – Dr. Menasce, who was a visiting scholar at the University of Maryland Institute of Advanced Computer Studies, in College Park. Looking back it seems just incredible that 8 years later, I would be relocating to Maryland and getting a job at UMUC, coming back to the same campus! Life plays many tricks with its incredible twists and turns…

I came to Maryland for 3 months, during which I was already assistant professor at UFF (Universidade Federal Fluminense). My teaching there, however, only started in the second semester of 1992, with a course in Principles of Computer Architecture – an area that became associated to my name given my previous work as a hardware designer and my master thesis in parallel processing.

I was to complete m doctoral in November 1995… A great achievement in my professional life, which opened many doors, despite all the professional changes that came after it… During the first years working at UFF, I did not go to Niteroi (city where UFF is located) every day. I had a part-time commitment with the institution, which at the time had great hopes of increasing its cadre with faculty with terminal degrees. It was a convenient and fortunate situation. In 1994, I had another chance for a scholarship abroad, and I went to Grenoble, France for almost 6 months. At the time, I had already changed advisors, and Celso Ribeiro with a background in operations research had help shape my work in task scheduling within this same field. An interesting redirection, which once more opened several other opportunities of associations and publications… In 1996, just after completing the doctoral program, another scholarship opportunity took me to Berkeley, California – at the International Computer Science Institute of the University of California, Berkeley.

Between 1996 through 1999, my regular full professor life was a good mix of teaching, research, conferences and departmental initiatives. I made great friends, which will always be close to my heart: Maria Luiza Sanchez, Cristina Boeres and Alexandre Plastino.

You might be asking yourself, why the reference to the bridge?
Well, the 13 km bridge between Rio and Niteroi was my daily routine of an hour and half long commute to and from work. The bridge is beautiful, and the sunset that one gets when returning from Niteroi can blind you, but also take your breath away with its beauty. From Niteroi, one can see the entire city of Rio, which is the best postcard one could ever imagine. Looking back, I don’t remember as much the stress of the humongous traffic jams that I had to endure, or the situation of the flat tire on top of the bridge under the rain… I do remember taking Gustavo for two months to work, while he was still breast-feeding. During most of those almost 10 years, it would be impossible to foresee my future in distance education and in another country.

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