Science and Technology

Engineering Physics alumni distinguished by Imperial College London

João Barata and Tiago França were awarded the Abdus Salam Postgraduate Prize for their MSc in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces.

João Barata and Tiago França, both Técnico alumni, were distinguished by Imperial College London with the Abdus Salam Postgraduate Prize, which rewards the best MSc student in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces during the academic year. The prize is usually given to one student, but due to a technical tie, two MSc students were awarded this year.

“I feel very honoured because we are among the best international students. I am very pleased because this is a recognition of my work”, says Tiago França. “Imperial College London is a world renowned university, so this prize will play an important role in my career and will have an important effect if I decide to apply for postdoc scholarships or research works. It will also help me to get funding for short-term programmes”, says João Barata.

While attending the MSc in Engineering Physics at Técnico (MEFT), João Barata and Tiago França, became aware “of the importance and benefits of studying abroad”. “I wanted to study abroad, in an English speaking country. I found the course at Imperial College and, after a long period of reflection, I decided to apply”, recalls Tiago França. “The year I spent at Imperial College was very interesting. The MSc course focuses in areas that interested me back then and turned to be very useful for the work I am developing now”, says João Barata. “In addition, Imperial College attracts professors and researchers who work in fields I have interest in. It was a privilege to meet them and to follow their projects”, he adds.

According to João Barata “the teaching model at Técnico and at Imperial College are different in many aspects as well as the students profiles”. Tiago França feels the same and adds that “Técnico students are less competitive”, “there is a permanent academic rigour at Técnico”, “the food is much better at Técnico”, “I think that the teaching quality and classes are the same at Técnico and at Imperial College”.

João Barata is starting a PhD funded by La Caixa Foundation and the European Commission – Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions, at the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics, Spain, under the guidance of professor Carlos Salgado. “The research that I am currently developing is related to High Energy Physics, particularly theoretical and phenomenological aspects of heavy ion collisions at high energies”, explains the alumnus.

Tiago França started a PhD funded by the Royal Society, at the Queen Mary University of London, under the guidance of professor Pau Figueras. “My research is related to numerical relativity. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity describes how matter and gravity interact in the universe”, says the alumnus. “When studying this theory, some simple cases allow us to mathematically solve fantastic phenomena, such as what happened immediately after the Big Bang occurred. But we still haven’t got an answer for many other cases relevant to science, such as the collision of black holes,”, he explains. Tiago França’s research will help to solve these cases: “I carry out computer simulations of these events in computer clusters

“Quite frankly, studying at Técnico allowed me to easily compete with students of such a world-renowned course”, says Tiago França. “In particular, I must refer that MEFT is a multidisciplinary course and that helped me in many situations while doing the MSc course at Imperial College”.