The Department of Physics celebrates its 40th anniversary

Live Streaming - YouTube

This year, the Department of Physics (DF) celebrates its 40th anniversary. The ceremony will take place virtually, through Técnico social media, on 16th December. The programme will include a tribute to DF’s first presidents and their vision, alumni testimonials (in Portugal and abroad), and current students testimonials (NFIST – Physics student group was created 25 years ago). The ceremony will be lived streamed.

The Department of Physics was created on 25th September 1980. In its early days, the DF was organised in two scientific areas: “Mechanics and Quantum Physics” and “Physics of Continuous Media and Thermodynamics”. From 1980 until today, the DF went through a remarkable growth: leadership of scientific and educational programmes and strong contribution to Portugal’s scientific culture and advanced training in Science and Technology. The Engineering Physics course was created in 1986, the first of its kind in Portugal. In 2017, this course had the highest admission grade in the national competition for access to public higher education, which for many years was led by medicine courses. The DF offers two PhD programmes involving around 100 graduate students.

The origins and vision

The creation of the Department of Physics followed the Técnico’ s tradition of Engineering training, based on a strong Physics and Mathematical knowledge. But it has also been inspired by the movement that divided Europe in the late 1960s – the Iron Curtain, and by the collaboration between scientists and engineers to respond to increasingly complex challenges. The ultimate goal was to bring together culture, science and technology, as happened at CERN laboratory, created after the Second World War. The DF has always followed the international context, and has consolidated the work of its founders: Alves Marques (Técnico’s first PhD graduate!), Mariano Gago, Matos Ferreira and Jorge Dias de Deus, who were the first four DF Presidents, in that order. They were all engineers graduated from Técnico before they have been physicists. In the early days of the DF, research was still considered by many people as an unnecessary curiosity.

The legacy and the future

During its 40th years of existence, the DF left a sound and transformative legacy, both at Técnico and Portugal. And it will certainly continue to work actively towards this aim. In 1980, the DF was organised in just two scientific areas. Today, the DF has five scientific areas and participates in important international projects. 5 European Research Council grants were awarded to three DF members.

In the future, the DF will certainly expand its scientific areas, participate in different teaching programmes and build new international collaborations. The DF will not stop evolving and it will work towards a better future for everyone.

Programme of the ceremony:

16th December 2020

Morning session

9:30 • Opening session by the President of Técnico, Professor Rogério Colaço.
The origins and history of the Department of Physics.
(Moderator: professor Teresa Peña, Chair of Department of Physics)
10:10 • Engineering Physics alumni (Moderator: professor Luís O. Silva)
11:10/11:20 • Break
11:20 • The 25th anniversary of NFIST. – Academic Excellence Awards of MEFT (Integrated Master Engineering Physics) winners. (Moderator: professor Ilidio Lopes)
12:15 • Closing morning’s session by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, professor Manuel Heitor, through a recorded message.

16:00/18:00 • IST Distinguished Lecture by Reinhard Genzel, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2020, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany.
Testing the Massive Black Hole Paradigm and General Relativity with Infrared Interferometry: A Forty-Year Journey.”
(Moderator: professor Vítor Cardoso)

  • Live Streaming on YouTube
  • The Distinguished Lecture will be retransmitted by Técnico’s Facebook and Twitter.