My postgraduate offer for 2017/1: Designing IT Research for Impact

I’ll offer, next semester, the subject “IA376 — Topics in Computer Engineering VII — Class D: Designing IT Research for Impact” to the postgraduate students at FEEC/UNICAMP. That will be a 4 credits (60 hours) subject.

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 19 to 21h

Where: FEEC/UNICAMP, Post-graduate Hall, Room PE-24.

We aspire our research to impact the world beyond h-indices and impact factors — we dream that our work, directly or indirectly, improves people’s lives. I start with a tease: do you have any evidence that this is the case for your research? My aim is for us to learn to ask that question, and then to give it a fruitful answer.

Let’s mine academic sources, government policies, NGO/Charities experiences, think-tank statements to answer the following questions:
(1) How can I design research in IT to maximize social impact?
(2) How can I work with the intended communities to to favor that impact?
(3) How can I measure (or at least inspect) that impact?

Our scope will be limited to Information Technology (i.e., “a GIS to improve access to clean water” is within scope, “a new polymer to clean water” not so much), and to disfavored communities (i.e., “real-time social networks to improve sanitization” is within scope, “real-time social networks to exchange designer watches” not so much).

This course will be nothing like your typical classroom experience. There will be no lectures. We will meet for the presencial sessions to discuss previous work, and plan our attack for the next week. I’ll expect you to continue working throughout the week. There will be no exams: I’ll grade your work based on participation during the sessions, progress between sessions, self assessment, and peer assessment. Active participation will be mandatory. This means (surprise!) talking in public. Everyone will be learning together, so all of us must accept the risk to be wrong. This course won’t work for those who always want to appear wise and knowledgeable. Group work will be highly encouraged. The course will be in English.

We’ll be a cozy small group: at most 18 students. I’ll select the candidates based on a letter of intentions, and on previous experience. Write a short e-mail to with a short-résumé (American style) summarizing your research, professional, and extra-curricular activities, highlighting experience relevant for the course; add also a short statement (300~600 words) explaining your current research, or future research that you’d like to develop, highlighting the social impact you’d like to see. We will be particularly interested in IT research for Health and Education benefiting disfavored communities, but other themes are welcome.

Attention to the procedures and deadlines: Whether you are a regular or special-enrolled student, please send me your application by e-mail (as explained above) until 8 January 2017. You’ll have also to make your enrollment as usual. If you want to enroll as a “special-enrolled student” act now: pre-enrollment closes on December  7th! Regular students can follow the usual enrollment calendar.

More info at FEEC’s Postgraduation Page.


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