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Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica
|Rector||Cláudio Jorge Pinto Alves|
|Campus||Urban, inside CTA's campus|
The Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA; English: Aeronautics Institute of Technology) is an institution of higher education and advanced research with emphasis in aerospace science and technology maintained by the Brazilian Air Force. It is located in São José dos Campos, Brazil. ITA is rated as one of the top and most prestigious engineering schools in Brazil.
The school's admission exams for its undergraduate courses (called vestibular in Brazil) are considered to be the most competitive in the country, and take place annually in over 25 cities throughout Brazil. Its undergrad program acceptance rate in 2016 was only 1.12% (140 accepted students out of 12493 nationwide applicants).
It is one of five institutes that encompass the Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology (CTA), having its facilities, along with its laboratories and R&D centers, inside the campus of CTA. ITA is a military institution, but it does have several civilian teachers, directors and students.
The institution was created in 1950, being responsible and contributing in a great extent for the research and development of the aerospace and defense sectors in Brazil, including the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research - INPE, Embraer and Avibrás.
ITA offers regular 5-year engineering undergraduate courses (Bachelor of Engineering) and graduate programs including master's and doctoral degrees. All undergraduate students are granted full scholarships and board during entire five-year period. Complete residential facilities are offered to the students inside the campus, at a minimal cost. The college is known for being rigorous, demanding focus and a great effort from the students.
ITA was idealized and initially run by the Marshal Casimiro Montenegro Filho, who was then a Coronel. Montenegro was an Air Force pilot and pioneer who had also received a degree in Engineering. The idea of building a school of excellence in Aeronautics Engineering and related fields came as the first step towards building a strong aeronautics industry in Brazil.
A commission was created in 1946 in order to organize the Technical Center of Aeronautics (in Portuguese Centro Técnico de Aeronáutica, or CTA), a sprawling facility that was later renamed, but kept the same acronym. ITA was to be the first institution in CTA, which would later harbor other aerospace related institutes.
Marshal Casimiro Montenegro was very passionate and idealist, and was committed to creating the best school that could possibly be created. He visited the most renowned Aeronautics Engineering schools in the US at the time, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Wright Field (home of the Air Force Institute of Technology). There he hired MIT's professor Richard Harbert Smith to help develop a plan for such a school, which was dubbed "The Smith Plan". Prof. Smith would later become ITA's first rector.
Montenegro hired renowned foreign professors and experts from various parts of the world to teach at ITA, the majority of them from MIT, influenced by Prof. Smith. At a given time of its history, ITA had teachers from more than 20 different nationalities in its faculty, an impressive number, considering it had (and still has) a faculty of little more than 100 teachers. Nowadays the overwhelming majority of the teachers are Brazilians, many of whom have graduated from ITA themselves.
A book by Tércio Pacitti, a former ITA rector, mentions that Montenegro went to great lengths in order to be able to hire and maintain a 'super-star' faculty. Their pay was considerably high, a requirement to convince them to move to an unknown and poor country, as was Brazil in the '50s. He had, many times, to conceal their actual pay from his superiors in the Air Force, disguising it as other forms of expenditures.
At the same time the team of professors brought to Brazil by Montenegro started to lecture in the Army Technical School (EsTE, nowadays IME, Instituto Militar de Engenharia), in Rio de Janeiro, CTA's and ITA's facilities began to be built in the city of São José dos Campos. This city was small and its economy was mainly rural, but Casimiro and his fellows predicted that, due to its location (between Brazil's biggest cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) and geography, it was a good place to be the birth of the aeronautics industry in Brazil. They turned out to be right, since about only 20 years later a company called EMBRAER, nowadays the third largest commercial jet manufacturer in the world, was started there, created and run by ITA's alumni.
In 1950 ITA's basic facilities were finished and its first students moved there from Rio, to finish the courses they had started in the Army's facilities. Despite the fact ITA was run and maintained mostly by the Air Force, most of its students were civilians. That was a key point in the "Smith Plan", that ITA should form civilian engineers, to aid in the development of the Brazilian industry, specially the aeronautical one. Over the years a larger percentage of ITA's revenues began to come directly from the government. Nowadays the Air Force contributes with an amount that is somewhat proportional to the number of military students at ITA.
Due to ITA's strong connection with the Air Force, the undergraduate students have the choice to become part of the military (as engineering officers) or keep their status as civilians, as members of the reserve, when they apply. About 20% of the students admitted in the institute follow the military career, starting to receive paychecks and wearing uniforms at the beginning of their 3rd year of school. Most of the students follow a civilian career, pursuing jobs in the market in Brazil or abroad, as they graduate.
During their first year at ITA, the undergraduate students are required to attend a military preparation course once a week, and receive monthly cost-of-living allowances for it during this period. For the male students it also fulfills their obligatory military service, which all male citizens in Brazil are required to attend (although the majority of them are dismissed at presentation).
As in most of Brazilian universities and colleges, admissions at ITA are made by means of a series of written exams, applied annually, called vestibular. ITA's vestibular is composed of 5 exams, each on one of the following subjects: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Portuguese and English. The English exam is only eliminatory, meaning the candidates are only required to achieve a minimum result in order to be qualified. The other four exams are eliminatory and competitive, meaning the applicants with the higher average grade (the four tests have equal weights) will be selected.
Students are selected based exclusively on their grades in the exam, and will be distributed in the 5 available Engineering courses according to number of seats available for each course and the list of course preferences the student fills at the time of his application.
The subjects of the exams are covered in much greater depth and difficulty than the exams from other colleges and universities in Brazil, including all the top universities such as UNESP, UNICAMP, UFMG, USP, UFRJ, UFRGS, what makes it a necessity for the student to be prepared specifically for ITA's entrance exam. That usually demands an extra year of study or more (students often take the test 3 or 4 years before being selected). Another Engineering college, maintained by the Army, Instituto Militar de Engenharia (Military Institute of Engineering - IME), have exams of similar difficulty, but with a smaller number of candidates. Candidates usually prepare for both exams, from ITA and IME, in a way that the majority of the candidates selected by ITA ends up being selected by IME as well. The vast majority of the candidates nowadays chooses to study at ITA, when approved in both schools, due to the civilian nature of ITA and its better renown in the market.
From the 1996 to 2003, the Brazilian government conducted yearly evaluation exams for every undergraduate course in Brazil. Written exams, specific to every different type of college course, were given to every student at the time of their graduation and the results were used to evaluate the quality of the college courses and schools in Brazil. These exams were called Provão ("big test", in English).
|Provão's Electrical Engineering|
results in 2003 - top 10 schools
|School||Avg. Grade |
(out of 100)
|USP (São Paulo)||62.7|
|USP (São Carlos)||57.6|
Based on the average grade obtained by the students course, every school was given a grade from 'A' to 'E' for each of its courses, with 'A' being the best. ITA was the only institution in Brazil to have obtained only 'A's in all the years of Provão, for all of its courses. The Provão results are somewhat misleading, though, as the grades are given by ordering the average grades of the schools in a list and giving the label 'A' to a certain predefined number of schools, and so on. Therefore, two schools that were given the grade 'A' can have substantially different scores, and that is usually the case. The actual grades for each school were not announced by the government, but a list with the highest average grades in 2003 "leaked" and was published by the national magazine Veja.
The published list showed that the courses of Electronic and Computer Engineering at ITA, which both took the exam of Electrical Engineering, attained the highest average grade of the whole Provão in 2003. Its students had an average grade of 79.6 of a total of 100. This average was about 5 point higher than IME's, the 2nd position for Electrical Engineering, with 75.2, about 14 points higher than the 3rd position, UFRGS, with 66.3, and about 17 point higher than renowned USP and UNICAMP with 62.7 and 62.2, respectively. It was about 24 points higher than the 10th position for this course. That is a relative difference of more than 40%. All ten schools published in the list attained an 'A' grade at Provão.
It is now known that in almost every year of Provão up to 2003 ITA's courses figured in either first or second place in its categories, usually competing with IME, both within considerable distance from the remaining schools. It is hard, though, to point references for such information, as it usually comes from unofficial sources or scattered news from journalists that had access to leaked information. INEP, the government institute which conducts these evaluations, publishes the results of all Provões at its website, but only shows the alphabetic grade and percentiles in which the students from the institution are (usually more than 90% of ITA's students figure between the top 25% grades in Provão). In 2003 94,3% of ITA's Electronic and Computer Engineering students were between the 25% top grades of the exam.
In the first ion of ENADE for Engineering in 2005, successor of Provão, which is only held about every 3 years, ITA's Computer Engineering course once again achieved the highest grade of its category. For the ENADE the government is publishing the actual average grade of each school at INEP's website. In 2008, ITA's Electronics Engineering courses scored the highest evaluation grade among all university courses from the areas evaluated in 2008, which included all engineering areas, computer science, math, architecture, among others. The course evaluation grade of ITA's Electronics Engineering was 485, out of a maximum of 500, based on the test results of the students graduated in 2008.
In alphabetical order: