When started doing research at the University

When I was eleven, I went to a secondhand bookstore. Glancing through the
shelves I found an old physics book and it completely turned my way of viewing the
world. From that day I could finally satisfy my curiosity by understanding the whys
and wherefores of all the things that surrounded me. I soon realized knowing physics
wasn’t enough anymore; I needed to learn how to create new things that would not
exist without the intervention of an engineer. At that moment I decided to become an
engineer, furthermore I decided to become a researcher because I wanted to discover
new paths to control or alter the nature of things.
In order to pursue this dream, I enrolled at the Polytechnic School of the University
of S˜ao Paulo, the best university in my country, to study Electrical Engineering. At
the end of my second year I started doing research at the University of S˜ao Paulo and
abroad. My first research grant, Adaptive Control and Optimization, supervised by
Prof. Felipe Pait and Prof. Diego C´olon, was approved by the S˜ao Paulo Research
Foundation. It is the most prestigious funding agency in Brazil and only funds the
best students at the best institutions. That grant gave me the opportunity to apply
for a fully funded international research internship by the same agency. It was also
approved on the subject of Rank Constraint Optimization and I was supervised by
Prof. Graham C. Goodwin at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
When I returned to Brazil I received approval on another research grant by the
agency on Adaptive Networks and Source Localization supervised by Prof. Cassio
G. Lopes. Using my own funding I also went on a brief research internship at the
Imperial College supervised by Prof. Alessandro Astolfi all while still an undergraduate
student. Also, I won the following three prizes: “Prˆemio Crea-SP de Forma¸c˜ao
Profissional de 2016”, awarded by the Engineering Council of the State of S˜ao Paulo
to the best electrical engineering student at the Polytechnic School of the University
of S˜ao Paulo; “Prˆemio Prof. Jocelyn Freitas Bennaton”, awarded by the University
of S˜ao Paulo to the best Electrical Engineering student in the specialty of Control
and Automation; and “Prˆemio Conde Armando Alvares Penteado” prize, awarded to ´
the three best students in any branches of engineering at the Polytechnic School of
the University of S˜ao Paulo.
Today my most relevant research experience is my Masters under the supervision
of Prof. Paulo S´ergio P. Silva at the Polytechnic School of the University of S˜ao Paulo.
Although I haven’t received my Masters yet, I was able to find important practical
and theoretical results. In the practical part I designed an adaptive control law for
the cancellation of stiction on pneumatic valves. I showed how to adapt the controller
using algebraic derivative estimators and algebraic identifiers, both developed by Prof.
Michel Fliess, for the valve dynamics which is nonsmooth, authoring a conference
paper with a journal paper is in progress. In the theoretical part I could solve an open problem concerning the performance of adaptive controllers showing that if one
considers a time invariant finite dimensional linear system without any perturbation,
knowing an upper bound on the system’s order is enough information in order to
design a controller that can approach the same linear quadratic performance as a
controller designed with knowledge of the system’s parameters. This theoretical result
is of major importance since it was believed that nonminimum phase phenomena could
create a fundamental limitation.
I’ve also been awarded a teacher’s assistant scholarship which gave me the opportunity
to give classes on Multivariable Control and Nonlinear Control. This experience
has been enlightening to me because it showed how gratifying it is to teach and how
much I still have to learn in order to become a Professor. This experience has erased
all doubts about the path I wish to follow for my career as a scholar. Being a scholar
has been my lifelong dream because I believe that I have something to contribute
to human knowledge and society through my findings. Since Academia for me is a
place of intellectual curiosity and collaboration where some of the most important
discoveries of mankind have been made, it is only natural to want to participate in
this process. I have now been to three different institutions and I am now eager to
continue on this path at Yale.
Bearing in mind the consolidation of IoT and networked systems theory, due
to the current amount of distributed dynamic systems that appear in practice, one
finds itself surrounded by new problems that did not existed, or were treated in a
very superficial manner, several years back. Moreover, today networked systems are
complex and have changing topologies that increase the need of adaptation in the
control and estimation laws.
This opens doors to new technological challenges that ought to be solved by
Academia. Those challenges show to us where the theory of Control Systems and
Signal Processing must be developed in order to better design systems. I believe that
the most relevant topics for me to study are related to uncertain distributed systems
and adaptive systems. Choosing Yale for my PhD is an obvious choice, due to the
world-leading research carried at the Yale’s Electrical Engineering department.
But, in my opinion, Yale has much more than its academic reputation and highquality
researchers. Yale also attracts me for its rich history of more than three
hundred years of service, and its amazing community. Furthermore, Yale’s multidisciplinarity
helps its students to broaden their viewpoints and think outside the box,
a characteristic that is missing in most Universities around the world, and that will
be decisive in this century.
Above all, it is my curiosity that encourages me to pursue this PhD. I aim to be
a scholar because I love Control Engineering. Technology have played a major role
in human society and the advent of distributed systems will open possibilities that
could barely be imagined years ago. Yale will provide me with a unique cultural and
intellectual environment, world-class professors, and the best students from around
the globe: this is why I wish to study there.