Campus and Community

Instituto Superior Técnico participates in the 2nd edition of FIC.A

FIC.A took place from 10th to 16th October, in Oeiras.

From 10 to 16 October, Técnico marked once again its presence in the largest science and technology festival in the country – FIC.A (International Science Festival). The event was attended by several professors, researchers, student groups and scholars, who shared their projects and knowledge with the visitors.

The first day brought together academic, scientific, technological, diplomatic, governmental and non-governmental entities from all corners of the country at the Hub-Act in Oeiras.

With the promise of attracting diversified audiences, from pre-primary classes to secondary school classes, to siblings, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, uncles and friends, Técnico organised activities that involved several research centres, student groups and scholars committed to showing everyone the Science and Technology projects developed at Técnico.

Técnico activities captivated students’ interest

The activities with the little ones started at 10.20 a.m. “They don’t get tired. Even when they don’t succeed, they go back and start again,” says Maria José Ferreira, researcher at INESC-ID and ITI, about the app she developed in which children explore biodiversity from various locations with the help of a virtual robotic assistant.

The second day focused on hands-on activities developed by ROB9-16 project, with the participation of N3E (Electronics Engineering Student Group). The 1st cycle students were challenged to weld their own board and create their own electrical circuit, with the aim of encouraging girls to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, as the board says “Girl STEM”. Globally, the participation of girls in STEM fields is very low. This hands-on activity, which ends with the lighting of a LED lamp, allows girls to gain self-confidence in developing their own projects”, explains Luís Costa, researcher at INESC-ID and member of ROB9-16.

In addition to this activity, INESC-ID organised activities that combined computation and biology, while CEG-IST challenged the participants with tangram constructions, composting processes, and supply chain management of a chocolate bar. The participants had the opportunity to learn more about the projects developed by GAMEDEV and GAME LAB.

Impressive prototypes mark their presence

On Thursday, the activities were aimed at 3rd cycle students. The electric car developed by PSEM student group (JP-21) attracted the attention of everyone due to its different shape. “Does it really move? Can anyone fit in there?”, the students asked. In fact, “this car has had the best results to date”, share the Técnico students, who are confident that, after some adjustments, the car will be able to win the international competition “The Greenpower Challenge”: “We’ve done the math. It checks out”.

The activity organised by the Laboratory of Instrumentation and Experimental Particle Physics (LIP), which involved the observation of natural cosmic rays, also captivated the audience’s attention.

Tiago Fernandes, Técnico professor (Department of Bioengineering) and researcher at the Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences gave a lecture on the challenges and opportunities of Regenerative Medicine and Bioengineering of Stem Cells.

Hugo Silva, Técnico professor (Department of Bioengineering) and researcher at Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT), gave a lecture on Friday and talked about ECG assessment based on biosignals acquired using everyday materials, from game controls (body responses to it) to steering wheels (driver fatigue). The participants continued to discuss this topic through the activities organised by the Scientisst, a group co-founded by Hugo Silva, which included: epileptic seizure detection based on video, cupping therapy, among others.

Impressive prototypes also marked their presence on Friday. TLMoto showcased an electric bike that reaches a speed of 150 km/h. “We did a lot of simulations before building the bike to estimate the best shape and the best material, among other things. After simulations, we will have to build, test, etc. And we do all this on a loop, as soon as we finish one stage we start another”, explained the members of TLMoto to the secondary school students.

Taking advantage of all this enthusiasm, the students from the Student Support Unit (NAPE) shared information about the academic programmes available at Técnico.

Families and people of all ages visited FIC.A during the weekend, whose protagonists were the ISR robots. One can play football, the other was designed to interact with humans, and the third has two robust wheels and is able to collect materials. “A lot of people come directly to see Darwin,” said Bárbara Teixeira, communication and events manager at ISR, referring to the robot that is capable of playing football. This robot “is able to identify the ball and go to it”, which causes a huge astonishment to the people around it. On the same day, the visitors had the opportunity to see an airplane that detects forest fires using vision algorithms, developed by the AeroTéc students.

The F1 car developed by the Formula Student Team at Técnico (FST Lisboa) and the solar-powered boat, São Rafael 03 also stood out. Mafalda Morado, leader of the Técnico Solar Boat, shared information about the São Rafael prototype: “We try to build most of the components that we need, (…) such as our solar panels, because we believe that we can learn the most … and it becomes much more challenging”. At the moment, the team is working on two new projects: a boat powered by hydrogen and solar energy, and an autonomous boat, that is, without a pilot, so it will have to dodge objects autonomously.

The Técnico students shared the same thoughts when asked about the importance of participating in such working groups: it is difficult but it’s worth it. These projects inspire students and provide them with knowledge and memories that reflect the commitment of Técnico students, in the most varied engineering areas.