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"The mere fact of moving around the most prestigious campuses in the world is already very enriching".

Several teachers from Tecnun have spent time at foreign universities this summer.

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Professor Álvaro Lleó gave a lecture at MIT PHOTO: Courtesy
19/09/18 13:50 Communication Service

There have been several teachers from Tecnun who have taken advantage of the summer to spend time at a foreign university. Two of them, Álvaro Lleó and Jorge Aramburu, tell us about their experiences. The rest will soon follow in a second part of this report.  

Álvaro Lleó is a lecturer in the Department of Industrial Organisation at Tecnun and has spent four months in Boston (USA). During this time he has worked at Bentley University, together with two professors from that centre. Lleó took advantage of his stay in Boston to study in depth statistical techniques for validating behavioural models. "And I have also been able to work on several publications for the projects we are working on". 

Specifically, he has submitted two articles to impact journals and has begun work on another two that he hopes to be able to submit before the end of the year. In addition, he met Carlos Rey, director of the Chair of Mission Management at the UIC, "with whom we began to collaborate a year ago and we have been able to work intensively on the next phases of the project," explains Lleó, who has also invested part of his time in meeting professors from Harvard, MIT, Boston University and Babson College, with whom he has been able to share his research. "We'll see if any collaboration comes about," he ventures. 

For Lleó, the experience has been very positive. "I think that the mere fact of moving around the Bentley campus, getting to know the Medialab or MIT Sloan, walking around Harvard Business School or going to work at Widener, is already very enriching. But, without a doubt, being able to work with people from there and have conversations with professors from the best universities in the world has been an unbeatable opportunity. There are very good people there who have very magnanimous approaches to research. They have given me very interesting feedback," explains the professor at Tecnun, who says that he has seen similarities in the way the University of Navarra's School of Engineering works with the leading American centres. "We both have very good students and we pay a lot of attention to teaching". 

And, of course, during his stay Lleó has also had some anecdotes worth remembering. The most spectacular thing that happened to him was that he was able to give a class at MIT itself. "As you can imagine, being able to give a class at one of the best universities in the world was very special, but it was almost better when I was offered the chance to give that class. It was thanks to Jon García Urbieta, a former student of Tecnun, who is currently working there at the Space Propulsion Laboratory (SPL). From his lab they organised a summer course, the students had to do a team project, he told them about Álvaro and... "they offered me to give a session on teamwork. I am very grateful to him. I think this is a clear example of what happens at Tecnun. When you take care of the relationships with the students, many opportunities come to you through them". 

And the second thing that Lleó highlights was that he was able to meet there with Yago Lizarribar, Anuca López Orero and Jon Garcia Urbieta, three former students of the Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering. "Seeing our students working at MIT and that they are doing a good job gives you a lot of satisfaction as a teacher". In addition, he was also able to spend a few days there with Dani Valderas and the three telecoms students(Fátima Villa, Iñigo Cortés and Álvaro Urain) who won a prize in a competition organised by MIT. "We can already see that we have students who are capable of working with the best", says the professor. 

And the last one was to spend almost a month there with Andrés Felipe Muñoz (a doctoral student in his department) and his family. "During his time at Tecnun we have become very good friends and being able to stay with them in Boston for three weeks has been very pleasant. We had a good time there and ate good hamburgers together," he concludes amused.

Jorge Aramburu

Jorge Aramburu belongs to the Department of Mechanics and Materials at Tecnun and has been, and still is, in London. He has been there since January and will be there until the end of this month. Specifically, he is in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at King's College London.

His work has consisted of developing a model of the cardiovascular system of Fontan patients using reduced-order models of haemodynamics. That is, one-dimensional (1D) and "cerodimensional" models. Aramburu explains that Fontan patients are patients who were born with only one functional ventricle (resulting in hypoxaemia, low oxygen levels in the blood) and have undergone a series of operations ending with the Fontan operation. 

Basically, the Fontan operation consists of directly "connecting" the superior vena cava and inferior vena cava to the pulmonary arteries. This improves hypoxaemia. The Fontan circulation is a surgically created circulation and it is important to analyse whether the circulation is adequate or can be improved by placing a stent in the pulmonary artery, etc.

"To analyse the circulation we have developed a simple model, with few parameters, which provides the blood pressure and blood flow waves at various points in the circulation, and we have developed a methodology to estimate the parameters of the model. We have applied the methodology to a patient and the results look promising," says Aramburu, who considers the experience to have been "very good both professionally and personally".

On a professional level, he emphasises two points. The first; having been able to work under the supervision of Dr. Jordi Alastruey has been "very enriching" for him because he is one of the researchers who has worked the most with 1D models of haemodynamics. And secondly because "in this project we have worked with people not only from different backgrounds (doctors, engineers, etc.), but also from different nationalities", which has allowed him an important cultural and academic enrichment. On a personal level, the fact that at King's College London everyone can organise their timetable as they wish (to avoid rush hour on public transport, among other things) has allowed him to combine work and hobbies in a very particular way.

The similarity he has been able to find in that institution with respect to Tecnun is the collaboration they have with St Thomas' Hospital-King's College London, "it is similar to the collaboration we have between the Clinic and Tecnun, which has been very important for us over the last few years". Although, in London, they are all in the same building. 

In the department where Jorge is, where by the way the view is directly overlooking the London Eye and Big Ben, the way of working is as follows: "the department is composed of several professors, readers, senior lecturers and lecturers, and each one has its own research group, composed of the group leader, 1 or 2 post-docs and 3 or 4 PhD students. In that sense, there could also be a similarity with Tecnun, at least with the Thermal and Fluids Engineering Area where I work".

Finally, Jorge Aramburu has also enjoyed many amusing and curious anecdotes. "London has a lot to offer," he says. "From the foxes you meet in the street at 3 o'clock in the morning (when I go to catch my 7 a.m. flight at Stansted), to the unintentional recklessness that three friends from Zarauza can commit on the roads of London with their Banco Santander bicycles". 

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