|Luís Couto dos Santos
Civil engineer and university teacher
Luís Couto dos Santos, son of commander Miguel Couto dos Santos and D. Maria Cristina de Alcântara Santos, was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 1 March 1872.
Already in Portugal, he enrolled in the course of Civil and Public Works Engineering in Polytechnic Academy of Porto, in the school year of 1887-1888. During the course he was taught by remarkable men of the Academy, such as Francisco Gomes Teixeira, António Ferreira da Silva e José de Azevedo Albuquerque.
After getting his degree on 30 November 1894, he started his professional activity in a company that produced and distributed electrical energy to the central area of Porto, from which he moved to "A Construtora", which dedicated itself to real estate building and to the assemblage of lighting installations and electrical traction.
In the area of Electrotechnical Engineering he founded, in 1901, a factory called "A Electra", specialized in the production of hospital equipment. His actions were paramount for the progress of the "Railroad Tracks Company of Porto", founded in 1873 and that, together with the "American Rail Company of Porto", created in 1872, dominated public transports in Porto – animal and mechanical traction, steam and electrical.
In the "Railroad Tracks Company of Porto", Luís Couto dos Santos directed the Exploration Services, promoted the works of the Generating Central Station of Massarelos – designed in 1909, restructured in 1912 due to the increase of energetic needs and inaugurated in 1915 -, essential to the operation of Porto’s trams, and he performed the duties of Chief Engineer.
Throughout his career he also performed the duties of technical consultant for Porto City Council, developing the urbanization plan of Foz do Douro, of director of the Municipal Services of Gas and Electricity of Porto (between the end of 1917 and the beginning of 1918) and of consultant for other municipalities.
Meanwhile, on 29 February 1915, Luís Couto dos Santos started a teaching career in higher education as he took charge as a temporary assistant in the Technical Faculty of the University of Porto. In 1916 he became a permanent assistant and a Professor of the 3rd section (Mechanics and Electrotechnical Engineering) in May 1919. He got his PhD in Engineering in 1927 and in 1930 he was a full Professor of the 6th group (Electrotechnical Engineering) of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto.
In this University, besides teaching, Luís Couto dos Santos was the director of the Technical Faculty (appointed on 14 August 1919) and of his Electrotechnical Laboratory (1919) and he was still the first director of the Faculty of Engineering (nominated and elected in 1926). In 1935 he was once again appointed as director of this Faculty, but in January of the following year, he was forced to leave his position for health reasons. In 1927 he participated in the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of Polytechnic Academy of Porto, marked by the laying of the 1st stone for the new Faculty of Engineering.
In the area of civil construction he found a solution for the metallic structure of the pavilion of the mineral waters springs from Melgaço and he won a gold medal in the Expo of Rio de Janeiro in 1908 with the surgical equipment he submitted to the competition.
In Public Administration, Luís Couto dos Santos was a member of the Senior Council of Electricity of the Portuguese Electrotechnical Committee and of the Senior Council for Public Works.
He was married to D. Laura Eulália de Azevedo e Albuquerque Couto dos Santos. They had two sons: Luís de Albuquerque Couto dos Santos, engineer and administrator of the Post-Office, Telegraphs and Telephones, and Carlos Afonso de Albuquerque Couto dos Santos, chief of the Workshops in the Faculty of Engineering.
Luís Couto dos Santos died in Porto on 31 January 1938 in his house in Rua das Virtudes in Porto, and was buried in Agramonte cemetery, also in Porto. At the religious ceremony his doctoral insignia were carried by his assistants – the engineers João Pais de Aguilar and Luís Delgado Santos -, the eulogies were delivered by Dr. Correia Pinto, a priest in Sé do Porto, and speeches were proffered by Professor Tomás Dias, director of the FEUP and the engineer Flávio Pais, representative of the Order of Engineers which the honoured engineer belonged to.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2011)