Visiting researcher at Georgia Tech

30/05/2017
Dr. Angel A. Juan "Excellence in research and training go hand in hand"

UOC professors and researchers are doing their part to increase the global dimension of the institution by carrying out research stays at prestigious universities around the world. Among them is Dr Angel A. Juan, professor at the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications and researcher in the DPCS-ICSO group at the IN3. Dr Juan is currently staying at Georgia Tech in the United States, where he is developing a research project through a Jose Castillejo grant. The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering, the Georgia Tech institute Dr Juan is visiting, has been ranked as the number one graduate programme in the USA 27 years running. We asked Dr Juan to share with us a bit about his current research visit at Georgia Tech and his view on how UOC research and innovation can benefit from this.

Big data and simheuristics at Georgia Tech

We are working on the development of intelligent algorithms to solve some of the operational challenges that distribution companies have to face in modern transportation and logistics activities. The ultimate goal is to build intelligent software solutions that help to optimize the distribution costs as well as to reduce the environmental and social impact of these activities, especially in smart cities. To do so, we typically employ a combination of mathematical methods and computer tools: the so-called metaheuristic optimization algorithms. In recent years, our DPCS-ICSO group at the IN3 has been able to develop new classes of intelligent algorithms, including biased-randomized heuristics, simheuristics and learnheuristics. These algorithms are now being used by researchers worldwide, and our project at Georgia Tech relies on them.


 

Why Georgia Tech?

Georgia Tech is one of the most prestigious technical universities in the world, and one that our faculty has always considered a benchmark. In addition, the professors I am collaborating with, Dr Martin Savelsbergh and Dr David Goldsman, are among the top researchers in the fields of city logistics and transportation and computer simulation, respectively.

Excellence in research and training go hand in hand

In the past, I have completed pre- and postdoc stays at different American and European institutions, including Harvard University (USA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), the University of Southampton (UK), the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany), University College Dublin (Ireland), Portsmouth University (UK), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria), and LAAS-CNRS (France). I think all of them have something in common: they understand excellence in research as a way to provide their students with world-class instruction as well as to attract new students and researchers from different parts of the world. The same is true at Georgia Tech: they know that excellence in research and training go hand in hand; for that reason, they hire the best professionals and provide them with vast resources (funding, infrastructure, administrative support, etc.), thus contributing to consolidate the institution’s prestige among current and prospective students.

What’s in it for the UOC community?

Another five IN3 researchers are collaborating in the three scientific articles we plan to produce during this stay. An additional goal of my visit is to establish a connection with the International Education Office at Georgia Tech, so that their students can go to the IN3 and, at the same time, UOC researchers can come to Atlanta. Moreover, we are exploring the possibility of developing a joint online degree between both universities. In two to three years this might become a reality now that Georgia Tech is starting to offer online degrees worldwide.

UOC R&I and the promotion of research careers

In my view, the progress the UOC has made in research and scientific production in recent years has been noticeable thanks to the effort of professors, researchers and different “generations” of managers who have understood the importance of research for a university. The UOC is a young university, and when an institution like ours is born, the priority is to consolidate the academic dimension. As the UOC is entering a new stage of maturity, research and scientific production becomes a must. Only by promoting research careers, as top universities do, will the UOC reach excellence and transform itself into a global university.