Beatrice Montano

“I think it is about time we dispel a myth: Mechanical Engineering is not a Programme just for men.”

Nome: Beatrice Montano

Provenienza: Castellanza (VA)

Studi: Mechanical Engineering

Why did you decide to study Mechanical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano?

At first, truth be told, I wanted to study Math Engineering. In secondary school I loved mathematics: it was my favourite subject. Taking the TOL during my fourth year was decisive because I had two more years to ask myself which were my interests precisely. Later I also started appreciating physics, statics, and system dynamics. So I began to consider other programmes, including Mechanical Engineering. From that moment on, I decided to study the entire study plan, literally. I went through each and every single course. The more I read about contents and objectives, the more I was sure this was for me: machine design, components, production systems, and so on… Still, thanks to the Open Day event, I had the opportunity to hear from others about their experiences and how they took the same path before I did. For me, this was essential to choose. The reasons why I decided to enrol in Politecnico are several, including it being close to my home. Yes, life as a commuter is not easy but has its blessings, such as not moving out. In the end, every cloud has a silver lining.  

What do you think was the most significant challenge you had to tackle over the years?

No doubt on this one: trying to balance my university duties and my private life. On the one hand, lectures require time, and so do studying and commuting. On the other hand, there are things you do not want to miss out on: family, friends, hobbies, and free time. Studying means sacrifice, but scarifying too much is wrong. One must learn to organise their time, find their method and balance, meanwhile learning how to “say no”. Honestly, I can tell you it is very hard. It is way easier to exceed in one or the other. But, it is necessary to make an effort to avoid that your life turns into just studying, especially in the beginning. University is also a school of life: finding the time is essential during and after your studies, even celebrating your successes with others. 

You’re right in saying that University needs commitment. But, the greater the sacrifices, the greater the satisfaction. Don’t you agree? 

I do. I’ve never worked this hard in my life as I did in the past five years, but in the end, I enjoyed my well-deserved successes. Hard-working led me to win a merit scholarship, which is rewarding indeed. Moreover, thanks to my GPA, I was selected to participate in a summer camp hosted by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The HKUST organised a week full of conferences and workshops and covered our accommodation and travel expenses. It was a truly unforgettable experience. Again for merit, I had the chance to attend a German language course with Brembo, which awarded me a certificate. Last but not least, our modules often require students to work on projects that later must be presented to some companies, and getting compliments from professionals is priceless. I think this is the most rewarding thing one can get during an academic career.  

University requires devotion but offers a lot of opportunities. Which do you think it is important not to lose?

Taking part in an Exchange Programme, definitely. Thanks to the Erasmus+ project, I got to spend one semester in Leuven, Belgium. It was incredible, both at an academic and personal level. I had to adapt to a University with a structure different from the one of my home University. At KU Leuven, the programme is more about lab activities and projects. Meanwhile, preparing for exams is based more on individual studying sessions. Even though I was the first Mechanical Engineering student to go there, I had no doubt it was to meet my expectations in terms of contents. And it did. But the Erasmus exchange isn’t just a new routine, a new city, a new environment, and new courses. Travelling alone, living alone for the first time, meet and relate with people from all over the world means being increasingly exposed to new challenges and ideas. Simply amazing! Ultimately, Leuven is the best city for this kind of experience because it is made for students. A town for young people, where spaces, places, and events are meant to increase the interaction between young adults and students. I am so thrilled about what I experienced that, looking back, I almost regret not doing it as well when I was an undergrad. Considering what I lived, I honestly hope future students will take the leap of faith to discover new places. The Mechanical Engineering Programme has a long list of partner Universities where it is possible to do an exchange: it is on them to explore and live in new ones. 

Being a woman and an engineering student at the same time has caused you any kind of trouble?

I had many problems and difficulties, but none because I was a woman. I always had the same rights and duties as my classmates. Though it’s true the girls attending the Mechanical Engineering Programme are a few but, for no reason, we are treated differently or as if we don’t belong. For both Professors and students, it makes no difference if you’re a boy or a girl. I think it is about time we dispel the myth: the Mechanical Engineering Programme isn’t manly or just for men. As a matter of fact, I’d like to say something. I’d like to encourage everyone who is considering Mechanical Engineering, not just girls: feel free to follow your passion and interests without dogmas of fear of being discriminated against. In class, at your workplace, and in life, we’re all one and the same. There is no good reason to limit yourself. 

Do you think your programme choice has helped you to make your dream in life come true?

Not literally, considering that my dream as a child was to be an astronaut. The truth is I’ve always been drawn by engineering. As a kid, I loved solving puzzles, playing with Legos, assembling toys found inside chocolate eggs without looking at the image or following the instructions. Over the years, the intuition and logic behind my beloved toys turned into my interests, later into my favourite subjects, and eventually into my specialisation track. I grew up and realised I wanted to know everything about production systems, from materials to components, until optimising the production chain and logistics. Thinking about it, I feel extremely happy about my path and the professional I became. I still don’t know if my lifelong dream has come true, but I regret absolutely nothing. Seems like a good sign, doesn’t it?

Discover more about the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering.