Brazilian students making a splash in Sydney

25 February 2014

Animation for an SBS television program and teaching robots to learn, these are just some of the projects Brazilian students studying at the University of Sydney as part of the Science Without Borders program are working on.

Today the University of Sydney welcomes more than 210 students from Brazil for the start of the University semester. Science Without Borders is a scholarship program funded by the Brazilian Government. It aims to give undergraduate students from Brazil the opportunity to study science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation at the top universities around the world.

"It is great to welcome the best and brightest students from Brazil to the University of Sydney," Professor Tyrone Carlin, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education Operations) said.

"Not only will they get the opportunity to study here, they will also get the opportunity to work closely with researchers and industry to get real-world experience."

As part of the Science Without Borders program the students complete a 120-hour internship with researchers or industry.

Dr Fabio Ramos a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies has supervised 12 students as part of the program.

"I wanted to be involved in this program because when I was in my second year as an undergraduate, I started working with a researcher at my university and it changed my career. I decided that I wanted to do research too," Dr Ramos said.

"I wanted to work with students so they could think about research as part of their careers.

"The other reason I wanted to be part of this program was because I am Brazilian and I know the students are coming from very good universities and they have all proven to be very good students."

Students in Dr Ramos' lab work on robotics and developing machine-learning algorithms. Their work can be used for improving health outcomes for elderly patients. For example the students have worked on machine learning in mobile phones so that the phone can remind patients with dementia to take their medication.

One of the students interning with Dr Ramos is Leonardo Piovesan who is in his final year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Control and Automation).

"Science Without Borders is an innovative program created to help us gain more skills and enable us to face the challenges of an even more globalised world," Mr. Piovesan said.

"The Australia Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney is a leading research institute that has provided me with an incredible environment where I can learn from experts. Currently, I am working on parallel processing applied to machine learning and, when I return to Brazil, I'd like to start my thesis and go deeper into this topic."

Isadora Morales Chaves is studying a Bachelor of Animation, as part of her internship she worked on animation for the SBS program, Mexican Fiesta.

"I got to work on animating fire which is something that is quite difficult to do. It's exciting to see my work on TV now," Ms Morales Chaves said.

"Brazil does not yet have a big animation or technology sector, so it is a great chance to get to know what can be done outside the country."

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