Professor Carlos Lucena, adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, Ontario


We are interviewing the Carioca professor from PUC Rio, Carlos Lucena, who is an important member of the Brazilian academic community and who, since 1979, has been visiting Canada regularly as an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario.

By Cristiana Moretzsohn

Professor Carlos Lucena

Professor Carlos Lucena did his graduate studies at PUC-Rio between 1962 and 1965, majoring in Economics and Mathematics. Later, He got his master’s at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and a doctorate from the University of California in Los Angeles, UCLA . Prof. In 1968, Lucena founded the first computer sciences department in the country, at PUC Rio.

A winner of many titles and national and international awards in the areas of science and technology, Lucena adopted the city of Waterloo as his second home, and always during the first three months of the year, you can find him on the campus at Waterloo University.

During our chat, He revealed to us a little of Canadian academia as seen through Brazilian eyes.

Tell us a little bit about this “marriage” with the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Lucena – When I did my master’s in Waterloo, the then Department of Computer Science and Applied Analysis (today, School of Computer Science) was just in the beginning stages. I made great friendships, particularly with my colleague Don Cowan who oriented me and is almost my contemporary. Then, while I was doing my doctorate at UCLA, I had the opportunity to recommend some of my doctorate colleagues (one Chinese and one American) to Waterloo. Today they are, just like Don, emeritus professors at Waterloo. In 1979, five years after my doctorate, I came to Waterloo with my family (my wife and four children) on a sabbatical from PUC-Rio with a fellowship at the Guggenheim Foundation. Beginning this year I became the Visiting Adjunct Professor at Waterloo and I will visit universities every year during the Canadian winter (our Summer Break at PUC-Rio). Also, a doctorate student of mine at PUC-Rio became a professor at Waterloo and cooperation has increased significantly.

 The University of Waterloo is the birthplace of RIM, Research in Motion, creator of the world famous wireless Blackberry, which was founded by Mike Lazaridis, a student of the university at the time. Do you believe that because Waterloo receives millions of dollars from RIM, designated for research, the university stands out in the academic world and in cutting-edge research?
Lucena – The University of Waterloo is, and has been for a long time, ranked first among all Canadian universities. RIM is the main successful case for the graduates at the university but the university’s Technological Park is full of many successful spin-off companies. The number of research contracts coming from government resources is also impressive. The very successful Canadian science-fiction writer Robert Sawyer wrote two books recently (WWW-Wake and WWW-Watch) which describe very well how science and technology is in the air in Waterloo.

 A parallel between PUC Rio and the University of Waterloo.
Lucena –PUC-Rio is among the top five universities in the country. It is certainly the best private Brazilian university and receives many resources from the government and businesses for research and development. In relative terms (PUC-Rio is, by choice, a small university) it receives the largest allocation of resources for research for Petrobrás among all the universities in the country. Waterloo has more material resources. However, the faculty and students at PUC-Rio are just as good as those at Waterloo.

 What is it like to live three months a year, in the winter, in Waterloo?
Lucena – Winter doesn’t bother me. It leads to an introspective attitude that is fundamental for those who make a living with research. We have to face the cold naturally. I do not know which is worse: the cold in Waterloo in the winter or the heat in Rio in the summer.

 Do you have a message for young Brazilians living in Canada?
Lucena – You have made a great country choice. It is much easier to live with diversity here than in many other parts of the world. In general, dedicated study and work are recognized by the society here.