Brazil and UTC : a lasting bond

In1983, Sergio Asinelli, the first Brazilian student to come to UTC, boarded a plane to France, at a time when it was a rare event to leave one’s country. Sergio was a member of the Planning Department secretariat for the region of Curitiba and was selected by the State Department to benefit from a (one out of three) Government bursary in the framework of the programme entitled “Technical management for urban milieus (GTU)” in a partnership with UTC. Ever since, the relationships between UTC and Brazil have continuously grown stronger, in a wide, rich range sectors: agro-resources, computer science and engineering, biomedical engineering, etc. The UTC network now covers all the States in this country 17 times the size of France and there are especially strong ties with 4 universities – PUCPR, UFPR and UTFPR in the state of Paraná and the University of Recife in the State of Pernambuco – as well as withy the Federation of Industries of Parana (FIEPR). With student exchanges leading to awards of double degrees, co-directed PhD theses… the relationships Brazil-UTC can only prosper and develop. Interactions presents an overview of this 30 year exciting adventure.

Brazil and UTC : a lasting bond

Continuous education in Urban Technology Management (UTC-GTU) which was managed by Max Schaegger before being appointed UTC’s Director of International Relations was immediately successful. Thanks to the international scope of the course, notably towards Latin America and Africa, there are some 30 students registered every year, coming from round the world, who discover UTC and its expertise in urban issues, sciences and technologies. The lectures and exposes are given mainly by professionals in the water, energy, transport, waste management sectors, etc., plus a placement all of which together made for a very novel training formula”, recalls Sergio Asinelli.
These graduates then were able to set up the bases of a network that bore fruit in Brazil. To illustrate this: when Sergio returned to his administration in the State of Parana, he was able to send students every year to UTC. In parallel, student exchanges began among PUCPR, UTFPR and UFPR. “Thanks to the selection process of the students and to the quality of training at UTC, various collaborative programmes were set up with the Federation of Industries of Paraná, one of the assigned mission of which is to provide for training of its members”, adds Sergio Asinelli, who was Director General for Innovation in the Federation.

The “technological arm” of the Industries of Paraná

Among the collaborative programmes, the programme in industrial computer control is one of the most important. “UTC helped us to organize a training scheme with a dual objective: training of PhDs and professional candidates in industrial computer monitoring. Since that started, UTC has become the technological arm of the Paraná State’s industrial sectors. All the experts sent by UTC proved competent not only in their specialty areas but also in the way they developed intercultural relationships with the Brazilians”, stresses Sergio Asinelli, singling out Professors Daniel Thomas and Emile Segard who travelled on several occasions to Brazil to aid the Parana industrialists to valorize the abundance of agro-resources in the region.
UTC also participated to bringing together numerous industrialists in France’s Picardie Region and the State of Paraná, Brazil. Again ti illustrate: the Solabia group, specialists in biotechnologies and cosmetics, has opened two production units and an R&D Centre in Parana. Today the Picardie Regional and Parana State authorities are working on themes that bring them closer.

A dynamic network extending throughout Brazil

As time went by, the exchange programmes became denser. Several tens of students and several PhD students cross the Atlantic each year, double degrees have been organized and other are on the drawing board at the moment, there is an active network of UTC alumni in Curitiba, capital of the State of Paraná (and where the UTC is most significant). The alumni hold managerial positions in the major industrial groups, either the state enterprises, or Renault, or with Siemens.
UTCs reputation extends beyond the frontiers of Paraná”, assures Sergio Asinelli. “If we consider the excellent results obtained by FIEPR, the National Confederation of Industries, of which I was Director General, offers training courses and seminars, co-organized with UTC, in each of the 27 States in Brazil. There is at least a ‘handful’ of trainees in each State who have benefitted from a UTC course”, adds Sergio. The example provided by the University of Recife and its biomedical engineering focus is emblematic.

From personal contacts and relationships to institutional exchange programmes

There are still numerous challenges ahead if we want to consolidate and develop our relationships between UTC and Brazil. The exchange programmes need to be institutionalized (currently they depend far more on individual persons than on their institutions), to develop research programmes and joint laboratory structures, etc.
The now historic links that UTC has established with Brazil add to its legitimacy to forge ahead and consolidate the co-operation. And to give a second wind to this aim, it is always refreshing and rewarding to recall the period when the foundations were laid: “Today, we want to rehabilitate the original UTC-GTU programme and add a sustainable development angle. Negotiations are under way even as I talk to you”, says Sergio Asinelli. “The opportunities I see are huge and it is up to us to seize them”.

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