Campus and Community

Graduation Day celebrates hundreds of new Técnico master’s and doctoral graduates

The Aula Magna, at Universidade de Lisboa, welcomed recent graduates, their families and friends for a certificate award ceremony.

The huge wooden doors slowly slid open. Técnico graduates’ smiling faces appeared on the Aula Magna’s main staircase, at Universidade de Lisboa. Edward Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ march was quickly drowned out by the applause of family and friends of the 245 new master’s and doctoral graduates who completed their degrees in the 2022/23 academic year. The Solemn Session of the 15th Graduation Day of Instituto Superior Técnico took place on March 16.

“Your journey begins now and your potential is limitless” – these were the words of Teresa Peña, president of the Pedagogical Council, representing Rogério Colaço, the president of Técnico. “I am optimistic about the future because it will be built, influenced and led by you”, she said. This sentiment was shared by the rector of Universidade de Lisboa, Luís Ferreira, during his speech at the end of the ceremony. “I expect a fairer, more humane, more fraternal and happier world”, he said.

One by one, and throughout the event, the students were called up to receive their graduation certificates, under a shower of applause in honour of the effort and dedication that had brought them to this point. The ceremony was also marked by the usual speeches of alumni, recent doctoral and master’s graduates, and a performance by Tuna Feminina do Instituto Superior Técnico (TFIST).

A festive day highlighted by “a constant curiosity” and human beings “ready to transform the world together”

One of the morning’s speeches was given by Catarina Farinha, a Biomedical Engineering alumna currently working at Unbabel, recognised internationally for its rapid growth and a member of the Técnico Spin-off Community. “My PhD journey was a very important stage of my life,” said the Técnico alumna, stressing that this period, during which she studied Computational Psychiatry, “brought me developments both professionally and personally”. She ended her speech with a piece of advice “always stay curious about life, see it as constant learning”.

Francisco Santos took the floor on behalf of the recent Master’s graduates. He is an Olympic swimmer and represented Portugal in Tokyo in 2020, so balancing his studies (master’s programme in Electrical and Computer Engineering) with sport was a demanding task. “These challenges have taught me resilience, to get up at the next fall and persist”, he explained. He also emphasised that the help of his classmates was essential to his academic success, stressing that “mutual help is the foundation of our lives”. “Let us take from here not only academic knowledge but also an awareness of the importance of supporting each other”, he said. He also left a final appeal: “that we all leave here not only as masters and doctors but as richer human beings, ready to transform the world together”.

Ana Rita Martins completed her PhD in Transport Systems and spoke on behalf of the recent PhD graduates. She recalled an idea she considered “genius”, shared by a classmate who put cheat sheets on the back side of water bottle labels. When she filled the bottle with water, it had the effect of a magnifying glass, allowing her to read her notes clearly during exams. “This is what I call the art and ingenuity of the best engineering school in Portugal”, she said with humour, causing laughter and applause in Aula Magna.

The year she started her PhD, she opted not to choose “the most senior professor”, but “the most available and most human”. She carried out research on a mobility solution involving transport networks through autonomous vehicles and misses the room at Técnico where she worked on this project. “If it were today, I wouldn’t have chosen anywhere else to be”, she says, adding that she shared the space “with five incredible people”, all of them PhD students in different areas.

“During my 20 years at Técnico, I met my husband during my master’s degree and had a son during my PhD”, she shares. “Técnico provided me with a different set of skills that allow me to face challenges head on”. She ended her speech by stressing the importance of celebrating this day. “As I said to my four-year-old son, ‘Mummy’s finished school'”.

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