University of Illinois and Insper Partnership Supports Research and Education Collaboration

9/16/2022 9:28:11 AM Aaron Seidlitz, Illinois CS

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, through The Grainger College of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science, recently developed a partnership with Insper Instituto De Ensino E Pesquisa (Insper Institute of Education and Research) in Brazil to support research and educational collaborations between the two institutions.

The partnership was agreed upon on July 1. It includes joint research projects with co-PIs from Insper and Illinois, curriculum development in computing and data science, sabbatical experiences for Insper faculty, postdoc experiences for future Insper faculty, fellowships for PhD students and professional master’s students, and summer research internships for Insper undergraduate students.

On August 15, work officially began on the sabbatical experiences and research projects.

Nancy Amato
Nancy M. Amato

“This partnership represents a tremendous opportunity to open both institutions up to new and exciting research and education-based initiatives,” said Nancy M. Amato, Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and Illinois Computer Science Department Head. “Illinois CS offers a wonderfully knowledgeable faculty and student base for Insper peers and students to interact with on a consistent basis. We also look forward to opening our minds to the new opportunities and perspectives that this relationship will certainly provide.”

New research projects – involving Illinois CS faculty, graduate students, and Insper faculty – will be initiated each year. The projects will have three year durations, resulting in the development of long-term research collaborations between the two institutions.

This year’s research projects include five topics ranging from an investigation into improving student learning in project-based CS courses to data-driven rendering -- where one makes realistic images and sequences of images by compositing real data assets in various ways. In total, nearly 20 faculty members from each institution will participate in the research projects, providing new perspectives and innovations on CS topics relevant to all in the computing community.

Future Insper faculty have an opportunity to spend two years as postdocs at Illinois through the Future Faculty Fellows program. These individuals will establish research collaborations with Illinois CS faculty – which can be continued when they assume their faculty positions at Insper – to engage in curriculum development, mentored teaching, and to participate in career development programs.

The curriculum development collaboration will engage on the design of Insper’s computing curriculum. This will include sharing UIUC curriculum expertise developed from its many undergraduate computer science degree and program options, interdisciplinary education in data science, and the Illinois Computing Accelerator for Non-Specialists (iCAN) certificate program.

“With the partnership, we will have a computer science program that integrates practical learning and an innovative curriculum with the capacity to keep the faculty at the frontier of knowledge and producing research,” said professor Fábio de Miranda, Coordinator of the Insper Computer Science program. 

The Insper faculty spending a semester-long sabbatical experience at Illinois have already begun engaging in collaborations with Illinois faculty on research and education.

Graduate fellowships will provide Illinois CS PhD students the opportunity to be co-advised by Illinois and Insper faculty – with the possibility of spending time at both institutions. Master’s fellowships will support approved students, as they complete an undergraduate degree at Insper and potentially continue to Illinois for a professional Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree.

Undergraduate research internships place Insper undergraduate students in the Illinois CS Summer Research Program where they spend 10 weeks on-site at Illinois working with faculty on research projects.

“This is an exciting opportunity for each institution – both the University of Illinois and the Insper Institute – to learn from one another,” said Rashid Bashir, Dean of The Grainger College of Engineering at UIUC. “I cannot wait to see what comes of this collaboration, as it further blossoms into a wonderful benefit bettering the computing community through unique perspectives in research and education across the Americas.”