Campus and Community

“Success comes from creating opportunities and trusting the young people”

Professor José Manuel Fonseca de Moura was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by Universidade de Lisboa, after a proposal by Técnico, where he studied and lectured. The ceremony took place this Monday, September 13, at Técnico.

The laudatory speech was given by professor Isabel Ribeiro, Vice-president of Técnico for Administrative Modernization, who highlighted professor José Fonseca de Moura’s “long and brilliant career”, “rigour”, “excellence and merit”.

Professor Isabel Ribeiro described professor José Fonseca de Moura as a determined student, first at Técnico and later at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an “agent of change” when he returned to his school of origin, and since then as a mentor to “a whole generation of scientists and PhDs around the world”. “He always dreamed big, he always knew what he wanted, and he always fought and worked to achieve his goals”.

“We must honour the man who, being a scientist and a professor, has always been open to his students, has always cared about them far beyond his research work, showing that knowledge does not have to be far from emotion”, stressed professor Isabel Ribeiro. “Professor José Fonseca de Moura was a visionary, very creative and enterprising and, at the same time, he was very aware of the importance of working together to reach common goals”, she added.

The desire to promote scientific research in Portugal

“I am deeply honoured and humbled to be awarded by Universidade de Lisboa and Instituto Superior Técnico”, said professor José Fonseca de Moura. “This is also the recognition of the merit of those who over the years have accompanied me, supported me, with whom I have had the privilege to collaborate and to live with”.

“Técnico was a school guided by excellence and rigour but, above all, it was a school of life”, said the laureate. “I wanted to show that in Portugal, particularly in IST Department of Electrical Engineering, we could do research”, he said about his decision to go to MIT, and how he did not hesitate to return and stay in Portugal.

Professor José Fonseca de Moura highlighted the merit of his colleagues and students. “These researchers promoted the scientific research in Portugal, they created or helped to create new institutions and research centres in partnership with many others”.

He also shared why he decided to remain in the US after his sabbatical leave, in solidarity to those he had supervised: “I would be an obstacle for the younger ones because I was a Full Professor and as you know Full Professors occupy vacancies”.

According to the laureate “an interesting research has to have 2 characteristics: it has to start from a real-world problem and it has to be interdisciplinary”.

Regarding his experience as an expert of FCT evaluation panels, the professor stressed that this was also very important to “continue my dream of doing high quality research in Portugal in Electrical Engineering”.

As for the CMU Portugal program, he highlighted “the CMU Portugal program was a success due to its directors because they were in the ground, and the professors and students, both at CMU and in Portugal”.

“Success comes from creating opportunities and trusting the young people. To believe in their leadership so that good things happen, as it happened to me at the appropriate time”, said professor José Fonseca Moura.

António Cruz Serra: “It was a great pleasure to hand over this distinction”

The Rector of ULisboa, professor António Cruz Serra, thanked the laureate for his important contributions to the development of research at Técnico and in Portugal. “Our country and Técnico have changed; scientific research has changed a lot because of what you did at that time”, he said, also stressing the important contributions of professor Carlos Salema and professor José Tribolet, who also attended the ceremony. “We owe a debt of gratitude to people who have done the most to create the private non profit organisations, which helped to boost scientific research in Portugal.” “It was a great pleasure to be one of the subscribers of the proposal for the attribution of this Doctor Honoris Causa title it was also a great pleasure to hand over this distinction”, he added.

The ceremony was attended by colleagues, children and grandchildren, and family members of professor José Fonseca de Moura. The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, professor Manuel Heitor, the representative of the US Embassy in Portugal, Penny Rechkemmer, the president of ULisboa General Council, engineer Carlos Pina, the newly elected rector of ULisboa, professor Luís Ferreira, several vice-rectors and members of the ULisboa General Council, the rector of ISCTE-IUL, professor Maria Lourdes Rodrigues, and other high standing personalities from the academic world also attended the ceremony.

The Doctor Honoris Causa ceremony is available on Técnico’s Youtube channel.

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