The Polytechnic Institute of Porto (IPP) was created in 1985 as a result of the 1979 re-definition of the national education strategy which reinstated the Polytechnic Higher Education. Presently IPP is composed of seven schools with statutory, scientific, pedagogic, cultural and administrative autonomy as determined by law.

In 2011 over 17.000 students attended the seven Schools located in 5 cities within the Porto district. ISEP, the School of Engineering of IPP, is an institution recognized as a fundamental contribution to the development of Portuguese industry, granted by the quality of technical graduates and the long history of training generations of professionals. ISEP includes 9 R&D units, recognized by Portuguese scientific institutions and also internationally, that involve senior researchers and students in actual and forthcoming areas of interest.

GECAD is the largest of those R&D units, and includes 53 PhD researchers. GECAD works in the area of intelligent systems and its application to real problems, particularly in the area of engineering. Scientific research application areas include, emergence management , production systems, education and intelligent tutoring systems, inclusive systems, genetics, health, markets, power and energy systems. New areas and paradigms are covered such as semantic web, ambient intelligence, cyber-physical systems, smart grids and smart cities. GECAD research contribution to the state of the art in the fields in which it acts can be organized threefold: part of the work is dedicated to the development of basic methodologies and techniques that can be applied in a large set of fields; part of the work is dedicated to specific-purpose fields; and more recently some work has been dedicated to aspects like technology transfer and innovation. The basic methodologies and technologies used by GECAD cover aspects that range from the hardware to the smart software useful for the development of Intelligent Engineering Systems. This hardware includes all the automation devices useful for sensing, monitoring, and controlling Intelligent Engineering Systems. However, GECAD centres the attention in the intelligent use of this hardware, so research in intelligent systems, decision support systems, and knowledge based systems are the main focus of GECAD.

Here we can refer work in areas like machine learning, optimization, planning, scheduling, modelling, simulation, intelligent interaction, ontologies and knowledge representation, affective computing, and ambient intelligence. In these areas GECAD is recognized as a very relevant international player, achieving remarkable scores in top-level scientific journals