Na primeira pessoa, Daniel Rodrigues partilha connosco a sua experiência Fulbright, 2019-2020.  Ao abrigo da Bolsa Fulbright para Investigação com o apoio da FCT  e no âmbito do seu doutoramento em Mechanical Engineering da Universidade do Porto, Daniel passou 4 meses no Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT, Cambridge, MA.


«The Fulbright scholarship with FCT support was a life-changing experience that I will never forget. Boston was my home for four months, starting in October of 2019 and ending a month before a pandemic turned the world upside down.

During those four months, I was part of the Mechanosynthesis Group from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), led by Professor John Hart. The main goal of this program was to establish a connection between my PhD work (mostly done in a computer) and the experimental field to enrich the final PhD thesis, which is about the numerical simulation of a 3D-printing process called fused filament fabrication (FFF). During my PhD, I aim to construct a new numerical tool capable to fully simulate the FFF process and, consequently, to improve the FFF by optimizing its mechanical and thermal parameters. In MIT, under the supervision of one of the most knowledgeable people on 3D printing and other manufacturing processes (Professor Hart), I completed the required experiments to obtain vital thermo-mechanical properties of the material used in the 3D Printing process. The material properties determined experimentally (by subjecting the material to different mechanical tests, under several temperatures) serve as inputs of the mentioned numerical tool to achieve a reliable numerical simulation of the extrusion process, the central phase of the FFF.

In the days I was not doing experiments in the Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies (where the machines I used were at), I kindly sat on the basement of MIT Building 35 and developed my algorithm. My mind, absorbed by lines of code, was usually interrupted by group meetings filled with coffee and delicious pastries, seminars, PhD defenses, events organized by the International Students Office, gym sessions or simply by my need for escapism.

Before embarking in this adventure, I was pretty sure I was very used to my own company. But being so far from my family and friends for such a long time (in particular during Christmas time), made me realize I was not closely prepared for that emotional ride.  Days-off were dedicated to visiting art museums, Boston’s architectural gems, going to the movies (I think watched almost fifty movies in the theatres, and more than a half of those were for free because I went to a lot of advanced movie screenings), or to explore some other places like Salem, Providence, New Haven or Exeter. During Christmas, I decided that, given the impossibility of being at home, New York was the second-best place to be in the world. It was not the first trip I made by myself, and it won’t be the last, but last Christmas in New York might be the most haunting, sad, beautiful, and remarkable trip I ever made.

On my last day, feeling that my mission was accomplished, I thanked Boston for everything the city gave me on a professional and personal level. I also felt sorry for not always being fully there, but it is what it is. I’ll miss the infinite research resources ($$$), my nice group colleagues with whom I went apple picking, the advance movie screenings, the art museums, the sense of everyone knowing about everything, the snow in Winter, the brutalist architecture, the great snacks supermarkets have to offer and my buddy, my host, George, the dog (you can see it in one of the pictures). Because all of this, I will always remember this experience as a bittersweet, melancholic and somehow nostalgic moment in my life. A life-changing moment.»


Muito obrigada, Daniel, welcome back!