Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge 2023 honours NOVA FCT student


Diogo Lavado, Master in Computer Engineering from NOVA FCT, was one of the winners of the 2023 edition of the Fraunhofer Portugal Challenge, which took place on 22 November at the NOVA FCT Library Auditorium.

This is the second honour received by the NOVA FCT student this year. Diogo Lavado had already received an honourable mention in the REN Awards for the same work.

"This work forced me to leave my comfort zone and explore knowledge outside my field - computer science. It was very challenging and so I'm pleased to see my work recognised by two leading institutions, first REN and now Fraunhofer Portugal," explains the student.

With the presentation "Leveraging Group Equivariance To Build Geometric Interpretability For Trustworthy Machine Learning", Diogo Lavado presented his innovative project to use machine learning to improve the inspection and maintenance of power transmission networks, which won him 3rd place. His master's thesis was supervised by Professors Cláudia Soares (Department of Computer Science at NOVA FCT) and Alessandra Micheletti(UniMi).

This was the 14th edition of the challenge and one of the rare occasions when the ceremony was not held at Fraunhofer Portugal's premises. Liliana Ferreira, Director of Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, said that the choice of NOVA FCT to host the event was no coincidence. "It reflects the number of winners that NOVA FCT has contributed to this challenge and he significance of NOVA in this initiative," she added.

"At our institution we promote the practice of challenging students to excel and generate knowledge with an impact on society, in the same way that this challenge instigates them," said José Júlio Alferes, Dean of NOVA FCT.

João Pedro Pinto, from the University of Aveiro, was the winner of this edition. Rafaela Timóteo, from Instituto Superior Técnico, took second place.

This Fraunhofer Portugal initiative aims to motivate and reward research with an impact on society by awarding Prizes and Distinctions to students and researchers who contribute to the philosophy behind the FhP-AICOS vision of "Propose Futures. Impacting lives." and its mission to create "Remarkable Technology, Easy to Use".