Student from Brazil came to Lithuania to study face recognition technologies

Gustavo Gonçalves Coelho is a 25 years old Brazilian from a small city called Vargem Grande Paulista. Since 2018, Gustavo has been living in the north of Portugal and studying at the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança. Gustavo always has dreamed about improving his engineering skills, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) writes in a press release.

He achieved this desire in Vilnius – in a drastically different environment from his country of origin. He finished his internship just before the global pandemic but got stuck in Portugal on his way home back to Brazil. So, we sit down virtually for a talk with Gustavo to speak about his experience.

Gustavo, we all have noticed how suddenly our word has changed due to coronavirus pandemic, so how was your way back home?

Well, starting from the beginning, the last weeks before moving out from Lithuania was very worrisome, because I was hoping to go to Brazil for a couple of months to see my family after a long time finally. But as we all know, the situation with the COVID-19 outbreak was developing so fast that for a moment, I felt that I was in the middle of the ocean. I had some issues and a lot of headaches due to the flights’ cancellation, but I managed to figure it out.

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Besides the worries, I felt that the Vilnius airport was very prepared in following all the WHO recommendations, and I felt secure travelling back to Portugal.

Now, I’m healthy and safe doing quarantine in a friend’s house in Évora, a small city in Portugal, where probably I will stay until the situation starts to get better.

So, now you got stuck in Portugal?

Yes, all the flights to Brazil were cancelled.  I’m very grateful for my friends that they are helping me during this challenging situation, if not them I would have nowhere to stay.

We all hope that things will start getting better soon, so let’s talk about the times when we all had the freedom to travel. From Brazil to Portugal and later to Lithuania. You went to a different continent and finally stopped in a small Northern country. It looks like a big move, why so?

It was a mix of combinations. When I was finishing my studies in Portugal, I felt that I still needed an experience living abroad, principally to improve my English skills, once there is not a linguistic barrier between Portugal and Brazil. It is quite funny because before moving to Portugal, I barely knew Lithuania and I would never imagine that one day I would be living here. When the opportunity of joining the internship program at VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas” showed up as soon as I was going to defend my master’s thesis, I didn’t think twice, and I ended up choosing to come to the capital of Lithuania as my internship destination.

In Brazil, you were studying electronic engineering, so what was your first impression of VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas”? 

My first impression when arriving in VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas” was the work environment. I love the “garage” style of the workshops; also, I was impressed with the fantastic equipment there are available here. The only sad part of my journey was the weather. I had never seen snow before, so I was expecting to see a lot of it during this winter… well, maybe next time.

How did you spend your time in VGTU “LinkMenu fabrikas”? What did you learn there?

During my internship, first, I was working with a face recognition project. The idea was to develop a system capable of running with the Raspberry PI 3, which is a low-cost development board responsible for processing all the image information collected from the PI camera. 

Later, I started to work with the Birdhouse project, which is a very cool idea that simulates a dancing and singing bird with 3D printed parts and electronic components. The bird will sing and dance as soon as someone starts following the VGTU “Linkmenu fabrikas” Instagram account. 

Did you face some challenges?

The most challenging thing was to reconcile the project deadlines with your new routine. When you move from one place to another, you have to adapt yourself to absorb all the latest information quickly, otherwise, it may be difficult for you to progressed and you will end up pushing yourself to go further, which is not easy. So, now I feel that I am much more prepared for the next steps in my career.

Will the gained experience at VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas” help for your future career?

It will. Having this international experience in VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas” just right after finishing my master’s degree is something that I am proud of. I feel that I had significant improvements with the use of Raspberry PI and computer programming, principally with python language and bash scripting. 

Also, I acquired some good knowledge about how to build a real-time face detection and recognition and, as a plus, as I found this topic super exciting, I learned about how to train face’s detection models using Machine Learning algorithms. It is always good for us to be challenging ourselves with new knowledge and adventure.

For the end, how was your overall experience at VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas”?

It was a fantastic practice. VGTU “LinkMenų fabrikas” offers a great learning opportunity for interns to develop their skills, not only in electronics but also with media in general, 3D printing, metal, wood, virtual reality, and so on. If you are a tech lover and a DIY person style, who likes to learn and discuss different ideas and how to put it on practice, this is the right place for you.

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