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Leitor escreve sobre a obrigatoriedade do gozo de pelo menos 10 dias úteis de férias em Agosto: "Como ainda ninguém resolveu partilhar essa "triste" experiência com os restantes "contratados" cá ficam as minhas perguntas e algumas das respostas que consegui encontrar..." »

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A note on the advantages of amicable alliances

Por Ronald Herman*

I am pleased to respond to the request to write this short article. It is my privilege to be associated with your campus and institution as a visiting academic from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Some years ago I met Prof. Vladimiro at a conference and his obvious level of expertise impressed me. At subsequent conferences I had the opportunity of gaining his acquaintance on a more social level. These necessary 'bridge building' experiences paved the way for us to embark on the joint authorship of a book on load modelling. Despite the fact that I cannot speak any Portuguese, the door was graciously opened for me to present a postgraduate module on load modelling in English. I have also been invited to stay here for a further couple of months so that we can work on the book. So, in a very real sense I have experienced the rewards of this mutual friendship.

It further suggests to me the importance of academic institutions and individuals adopting an expansive attitude towards people and places outside of their comfort zones. As engineers who are very familiar with the concepts of risk you might argue that such a policy involves a degree of risk. That is undoubtedly true. It is also true that those who do not venture will never win - as expressed in the old English idiom: 'a feint heart never won a fair lady'. In some ways our countries have similarities. Very few countries take South Africa seriously - except perhaps for our mining. Yet the engineers trained at our universities have more than held their own in all parts of the world. Your country is now part of the European Community and you might also feel a bit insecure in the company of the major partners. I assure you at INESC Porto that you are respected in the electric power engineering field by those that have taken the trouble of getting to know you.

We are living in a world that is getting progressively smaller in many respects - a global village. Last week I arranged a weekend in Paris for my wife and myself using my laptop and the internet. I was able to scan for the cheapest flight, make the booking and pay for it via Kentucky in the USA, make a reservation and pay for a hotel room in the area I wanted - via Melbourne Australia while I am in Porto and my bank account is in Cape Town! It is little different in the fields of research or on the academic front. These are also becoming competitive - the best students are attracted to the best universities and the biggest research grants are offered to institutions that have become known through their publications. This also requires a modest, yet realistic exercise in marketing one's image. As the girls will agree- attractiveness is an asset, but it needs constant attention. We can often enhance our image through social and cultural channels. In South Africa many businessmen play golf - more for the opportunity to socialize with prospective clients than to get fit!

It is a fact (fortunately or unfortunately) that English is the language of engineering endeavour. I would encourage Portuguese speaking students to become proficient in this language if they have aspirations of making their work known to the world of engineering. Offering postgraduate course-work in English would be an excellent way of achieving this.

I have enjoyed the politeness of the Portuguese people and the hospitality of the staff at FEUP and at INESC. If you maintain this openness towards foreigners like me, you might someday entertain someone of great fame - unlike me! Keep up the good work and do not hesitate to make your achievements known.

Desejos melhores

Ron Herman


* Professor convidado do INESC Porto



Artigo de opinião de convidado da Redacção do BIP.