Anniversary of CAPES Materials Area. Part 2.



A little more than four months after the creation of CAPES Materials Area, with Professor Lívio Amaral as pro tempore coordinator, in 12 and 13 of June 2008, the first meeting of postgraduate programs of the new field took place in the headquarters of CAPES, Brasilia. Discussions basically involved the presentation of ten programs already linked to CAPES Materials Area (from UCS, UFC, UFPE, UFRGS, UFRN, UFSC, UNESP – Bauru, UNESP – Ilha Solteira, USP-Lorena and USP São Carlos), meetings with some of the directors from CAPES and the presentation of new programs (from FATEC, FEEVALE, UFMT and UFSCar- Sorocaba). Some programs linked to other areas in CAPES (from UFVSF, UFPR and UFS) have also been invited, to assess a possible change of area. At the end of the event, there was a discussion about creating what they called “the document of the Materials Area”.

This document was finalized in the second meeting of postgraduate programs, which took place in the 5th and 6th of March 2009 at Puc-Rio. At this time, the meeting was summoned by Professor Lívio Amaral, together with SBPMat, presided then by Professor Fernando Lázaro Freire Junior. Discussions included presentation of SBPMat and work teams about the creation of the document.

Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

In April 2009, Professor Lívio Amaral left the coordination of the Materials Area to take over as Evaluation Director at CAPES. Regarding the actions performed during his coordination, which lasted a year and two months, Professor Amaral states that theytake this time to essentially identify the postgraduate programs in the field of Materials; from this, they try to consolidate the Materials Area and include it among the other CAPES areas, in a way that could be understood by the community”. On the other hand, Amaral regrets not being able to stimulate, neither in existing programs nor in new initiatives, “the imperious need to have much more research and human resources formation in Biomaterials”, subarea which, according to the Professor, is still very critical in the country. “All you have to do is go to a MRS meeting, either American or European, and it is easy to observe the increasing research in Biomaterials”, demonstrates Amaral.

On August 12th, 2009, CAPES president, Professor Jorge Guimarães, announced through Normative Regulation 097 that Professor Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff had been assigned to fulfill the role of Materials Area coordinator until 2010, concluding the period of three years started by Lívio Amaral. Graeff still remains the coordinator until June 2014, being assigned for the role for three more years.

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APPENDIX 1: About CAPES Materials Area.

The main tasks of CAPES are: evaluate and promote creating of new postgraduate programs; evaluate existing programs applying grades; evaluate scholarships and other financial support requests for students and teaching staff and for scientific events organization. Besides, CAPES coordinators are the most important interface between academic community and CAPES.

The Materials Area at CAPES is composed by a coordinator and two deputy coordinators. The job of the second deputy coordinator has been recently created, around 2013, to follow up in more detail programs of professional masters. Besides, the Evaluation Direction at CAPES has one or more technicians that help in the coordinators with internal procedures and the interface of CAPES with the community.

Coordinators in the area are chosen by the president at CAPES, after consulting post-graduate programs and technical and scientific societies connected to the area.

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Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

APPENDIX 2: Interview with Professor Carlos Graeff, CAPES Materials Area coordinator from 2009 to 2014.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Could you summarize the quantitative and qualitative evolution of postgraduate courses in Materals in Brazil, since the creation of CAPES Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – The area was created in 2008 with the adhesion of 10 programs. We are 29 today, that is, we have increased 290% in 6 years. This is quantitative date, but, most importantly, the area has diversified. It is a multidisciplinary area and with new programs, new frontiers of knowledge have been embraced with interfaces related to biological and medical fields, as well as agriculture, to name a few. Besides, another important feature of this evolution was the expansion of covered areas with postgraduate programs, especially in places with no high level education programs in the field, as the Central-west and Northeast Brazilian regions.

SBPMat Bulletin: – What were the main actions and facts  during your coordination?

Carlos Graeff: – The main mark of our administration was transparency. We had a series of meetings with coordinators and, as the area is still relatively small, we could make a serious of decisions collectively, mostly relating to the evaluation of postgraduate programs. Regarding new courses, we always tried to invite new members, specialists, to the evaluation committees, for a fair examination of requests.  This measure also brought improvement of the existing knowledge concerning CAPES role. A recurring issue is related to unawareness of CAPES work; when bringing a representative number of professors to the assessment processes, there is a tendency to strengthen the relationship between the scientific community and CAPES. I hope that this interview can contribute in that sense.

Besides working in this interface with post-graduate programs, I am a full member of Conselho Técnico-Científico da Educação Superior, where I led the work team with the topic “technical products”. There is an increasing demand for stronger interaction between academic society and society in general, that is, for applied research or technological development. In fact, creating the Materials and Biotechnology Areas at CAPES was basically inspired by this approximation. However, to evaluate programs that work with this interface there is a need for tools that might measure and qualify products such as patents, prototypes, etc. Therefore, it is essential that CAPES successful in assessing intellectual production well (in the case of Materials, basically articles in scientific journals) can be extended to technical production. The discussions have been very productive and we hope that soon they will reflect both on the CAPES evaluation process.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Can you comment on the “Qualis” (CAPES system for evaluation of scientific journals) of Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – One of the debates in the area was how to generate a Qualis that would attend multidisciplinary. Qualis is a broadly discussed tool in academic community in general, but especially in more dynamic areas of knowledge, considering its role is one of the most important: to qualify main intellectual products generated by postgraduate programs, scientific papers. The most used method uses impact factor. However, impact factor reflects the size and dynamics of different academic communities. For instance, when we compare average impact factors in Engineering with those of Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), they are inferior. We do not want to discuss the reasons for this difference which is even more remarkable if, for instance, we enter the realm of humanities. But this difference exists and, therefore, we should take this into consideration in order to avoid distortions in the evaluation process of, for instance, postgraduate research with strong inclination to research in Materials Engineering against Materials Chemistry. Our proposal, therefore, separates journals in big groups: Materials Science, Materials Engineering and correlate areas. By doing this, we try to achieve fairness while comparing papers generated by groups of engineers or physicists that work with Materials. Obviously, our proposal needs some adjustment, but I believe we have taken a step further in this direction.

SBPMat Bulletin: – In your opinion, which are the challenges faced by the area in the next few years?

Carlos Graeff: – Brazil is going through an important time in industry where it suffers with increasingly stronger competition, due to a great opening of our market and the integration with global economy. An important path is the sophistication of our products and processes, and Materials area has a lot to contribute to a stronger and more competitive industry. Nanotechnology is increasingly more emphasized and there are expectations that it might generate a series of new products, which is a fundamental subject of Materials field. Therefore CAPES and SBPMat play an important part in this matter. Actions in this direction are being discussed both at CAPES and SBPMat. Besides great national issues, there is still a lot of room to grow in the area.  There are, for instance, the great and urgent challenges of creating a postgraduate program in the North Brazilian region, the only region with still no offer for Materials courses.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Feel free to add anything else.

Carlos Graeff: – I am honored with the generous invitation from Professor Livio Amaral to conduct the implementation of Materials Area at CAPES. I have learned a lot and I could follow changes that CAPES have been through in the last years, focusing in system improvement. We will soon have significant changes in the assessment process, among them, a new tool to collect and support evaluation called Sucupira Platform. This initiative has been taken with enthusiasm and skillfulness of Professors Amaral and Guimarães. So I would like to end thanking both of them.

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