I was an undergraduate philosophy student when, as part of my research experience, I was asked to read the book Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett. This experience stimulated a great intellectual curiosity for Artificial Intelligence (Spring semester of 2003). Despite only knowing Artificial Intelligence (AI) from my books, I knew I should seek a graduate degree in computer science if I wanted to investigate cognitive processes using computational approaches.
However, that seemed like a dream out of reach: I had no experience with the Internet or computers. Several professors discouraged me, stating that shifting from computer science to philosophy would be feasible, but not the other way around. Still determined to enter the field of Computer Science, I scheduled a meeting with a prestigious professor from a top Brazilian military engineering institution. He told me it would be very difficult since I had to prove to the institution that I could acquire the technical skills needed to do research in computer science. After coaching me for about two years, I was admitted into the Aeronautics Institute of Technology, where he served as my master’s and Ph.D. advisor. He is my role model — a professor and researcher who believes in people and changes lives.