Jose Manuel is currently the UPM (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) Director for North America (US, Canada and Mexico), based in Boston; Member of the MIT REAP Madrid program, Member of Advisory Council of Harvard-Spain Student Association at Harvard and Visiting Scholar at Graduate School of Design in Harvard University (Smart Cities).
Before that, Prof. Páez has been President’s Delegate at RCC in Harvard University (www.rcc.harvard.edu) (2014-2016), Vice President for International Relations of the University (2004-2014), Dean of the Telecom Engineering School (2002-2004) and Vice-Dean for PhD studies (1998-2002). He also occupied several positions in international universities, as Invited professor at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Visiting Senior Researcher at International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and Berkeley Wireless Research Centre (BWRC), both institutions linked to University of California at Berkeley (USA).
After working in the private sector in Germany, besides having created and supported several startups, he has dedicated his professional career to foster internationalization in education and research. He negotiated and promoted the creation of the permanent delegations of UPM abroad: China (Shanghai, Tongji University), USA (Cambridge, MA,RCC at Harvard), Brazil (Campinas, UNICAMP); is Founder, President & Honorary President of Magalhães Network (Euro-Latin-American network of Technical Universities); Member of Board of Directors of Cesaer (European Association of Technical Universities); Vice-president of LACCEI (Latin America and Caribbean Engineering Institutions) for e–learning and promoted the Sino-Spanish satellite between UPM and Beihang University of Beijing-China, among others.
1.- Why has the UPM decided to create a permanent delegation in the USA and what are its objectives?
UPM has been working, for many years, with an important and selected group of American universities. Not only in standard mobility programs for student exchange but also as an active partner in the development of some graduate dual degree programs. However, the physical distance and the relative big differences on how both sides conceive and manage our respective academic programs made, sometimes, difficult to maintain alive this kind of partnerships. Creating a permanent delegation in the U.S. is not an isolated decision, but a part of a major international strategy to boost our positioning and relevance in the most vibrant regions of the world: Asia, Latin America and USA. The objective behind this global strategy is clear: to be competitive in the global knowledge economy in order to attract and prepare the best talent. On the one hand, UPM wants to maintain alive and increase the existing programs abroad by establishing a closer and physical relation with our current partners locally and, on the other, to open new engagements and programs with the best partners in the world, improving our academic and research offer to the market and students.
2.- UPM positioning in USA: what kind of projects or programs is UPM running from this delegation with which American universities?
Assuming that internationalization is more than global student mobility, and recognizing that we are based in the country with the best universities of the planet, UPM delegation has deployed a program for faculty and researchers with some top American universities as Harvard, MIT and Berkeley, so far. We are pushing our research personnel to experience a stay, up to one year, in any of these universities. More and more researchers benefit every year from this program with the hope that, after several years, we have helped a significant critical mass of researchers to think and work differently, to be more innovative and relevant in the scientific world and closer to the market, as well. We aim to develop through them a potent global network that will facilitate more international relationships, and more relevant projects with these great universities.
We also set up an internship program at MIT where, some of our best students, received an UPM grant to spend the summer at any MIT lab that accept them as interns to be engaged in their running research projects.
In the field of classical mobility of students, we have several programs with a bunch of partners in a 1:1 student exchange basis. In the past, some of these bilateral programs have been cut or suspended by the American side because of the unbalanced situation in the figures of student exchanges along the 3-5 year duration of the program. It means that more Spanish students wished to come to USA than Americans to Spain to follow technical subjects. There were two major reasons: the fact of teaching mostly in Spanish and the lack or academic recognition of materials taught in Spain by some partners. Today, both situations are changing drastically, because more and more subjects are been taught in English and a significant number of UPM degrees are internationally accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) for engineering and NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) for architecture, two USA-based accreditation organizations.
UPM is also running a 10+ year graduate dual degree program with IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) in Chicago in which our students obtain, after 12-months of study, the Master Degree at IIT and our own in UPM. Today, we have more than 70 students from 6 different UPM Schools enrolled in 8 different masters at IIT. This is a very popular and successful program where some of our best students are selected and awarded with a scholarship equivalent to 50%-tuition fee from IIT. In addition, this same academic year, some of our students, besides the regular master course, will be selected to enroll in a pilot-program to develop the business-plan of their own start-up in the Chicago’s Entrepreneur Ecosystem. Entrepreneurship is very important for us and our students/faculty, and its internationalization is crucial to grow through the access to capital and market.
3.- Which are the most recent programs you have developed in the US?
In recent months, we have joined two programs at MIT. The first of them, in conjunction with UCM and under the Campus of International Excellence Moncloa brand. It is a seed fund to support 1-year competitive joint projects with MIT teams. It is part of the program MISTI (MIT International Science and Technology Initiative). The second, as a part of a Madrid’s team, is REAP (Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program). This is a program in partnership with MIT Innovation Initiative, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and MIT Sloan Executive Education. REAP is a 2-year program that helps regions of the world to develop their own entrepreneurship ecosystem by gathering representatives from five stakeholders (Corporations, Venture Capital, University, Entrepreneurs and Administration). The University stakeholder in the REAP Team Madrid is represented by UPM.
4.- In your opinion, what are the benefits of having permanent international delegations as UPM has abroad?
There are many international universities, unfortunately not Spanish ones, that open delegations abroad, but most of them are merely representations without fostering real programs. Potent engagements pass many times for a physical presence and personal relations with your peers, and this is a clear benefit that you get only by the fact of staying abroad and taking care of your existing programs. However, in my opinion, this is not enough. A delegation should be a permanent open bridge that links two worlds with clear objectives like the deployment of joint academic programs, to foster joint research teams, to bring cultures together, to foster mobility/diversity, to be exposed to new academic trends and definitely to bring new opportunities to the university personnel and students. In our case, as technical university, engineering is an universal and ever changing discipline, in fact, it has been one of the drivers of globalization. Internationalization is an intrinsic part of its DNA and open bridges to materialize it.
In any case, the universities need to see these delegations as a long-term investment, since global education is a main player for any society and the benefits are not always measurable and tangible in the short-term. In addition, universities need to convince its international stakeholders through its own example and commitment. It is imperative the participation and engagement of all in supporting to delegations and programs. The benefit of a global education by educators and researchers with international projection is vital to compete in a global environment. A close and physical relationship with international universities in their own regions increases their knowledge, trust and respect for you, because it shows your commitment with a long-term relationship and helps to open new opportunities for both.