“Not to share the same passions and not to be the typical mechanical engineer are limits that only exist in your mind.”
Why did you decide to study Mechanical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano?
I’ve always been pretty good at science, even though I got my secondary school diploma in classical studies. In general, I am genuinely happy with my humanistic studies since I completely support the idea that having broader knowledge makes people whole. Plus, I know to have skills that scientific studies wouldn’t ordinarily allow me to develop. Although already in school, it was clear to me I had a different way to approach and solve problems than my classmates. In my heart, I knew I was going to pursue something more technical at University, still without a precise idea of what to on detail. In the end, I went with Mechanical Engineering because it is the most comprehensive Programme, which provides a wide-ranging education. Attending this Programme also meant I had more time and extensive knowledge to better understand my own interests. About Politecnico, I’ve always known it was a great University and only heard positive feedback. In general, I think I just trusted my guts.
Which is the main challenge you had to face up to now?
Other than keeping up with Math and Physics? Jokes aside, it was hard but not impossible. Thinking about the past, I can’t help but ask myself how I managed to pass the TOL, considering what I knew back in the days and that I had the roughest time for missing some basics. I overcame all difficulties thanks to my colleagues, with their support and confrontation, and Professors, always available to clarify whatever doubt. There’s no shame in taking your time. For example, I took Analisi 1 (Calculus) a semester later than planned to get all ready. With the appropriate organisation and determination, the objective is closer than it seems. I don’t see myself as a genie at all. I am just an ordinary girl who was brave enough to believe in herself: I think this is what it takes to outrun every obstacle.
Which track did you choose for your third year?
Having excluded the Preparatory Track, I decided to attend the Professional Track in Machine Design for several reasons. One reason is that, among all tracks, this was the least specific one. Secondly, I never had such passion for vehicles and automotive, so I wasn’t motivated enough to choose something too particular. Eventually, I can tell I am pretty happy with both my courses and internship.
Tell us more about your internship…
During my internship, I contributed to design an electric marine motor that would be used to compete in the “Solar and Energy Boat Challenge” in Monaco. In the competition participated boat employing solar energy (Solar Class), boats with electric motors (Energy Class), and offshore race (Open Sea Class). The electric motor designed was meant for a boat competing in the latest Class, which was expected to navigate 36 miles without re-fuel. I started from an existing prototype I personally tested during another competition to develop a new and more performing prototype in collaboration with two companies, one producing propellers and the other eclectic motors. The prototype I worked on will never be manufactured because of its extreme conditions due to not having a protection case. But my work will serve to design the same model in aluminium, which I am very prof of.
Did you take advantage of other services and opportunities offered by Politecnico di Milano?
Indeed, I attended a German language course. It started as some game, but the classes turned out to be super serious and well-organised. It ended up being a great opportunity. Plus, I also attended a Passion in Action course called “Electronics for Music and Sound”. As I studied piano, I thought it would be nice to combine my love for music and engineering. The most amazing part of it was being able to talk with others sharing the same niche interests. The course was supposed to be made of lectures and lab activities. Unfortunately, it all turned online due to the covid-19 pandemic. Still, it was highly interesting because we were introduced to all electronic instruments used to echo the sound. I liked very much seeing the innovation after having studied music in the most classical way.
Being a woman caused you some trouble?
At University, jokes and inappropriate comments are very few, and students are very nice. But being part of a racing team – the POLIMI Sailing Team – as structure manager, sometimes I found myself in the position where I had to get in touch with third parties to bring to light the team’s project, which involves students designing and creating an updated and eco-friendly sailboat. On some of these occasions, I felt out of place. Thanks to my strong personality, I found a reason to demonstrate I was worthy. I turned an adverse situation into an opportunity: the more they said I didn’t belong, the more I wanted to prove them wrong. And my classmates always had my back. Keeping studying and growing up allows being more mature and show more confidence. This changes radically the way people interact with the professional, no matter the sex. To be honest, during the past three years, I noticed a rise in awareness, which I think is a good sign of being on track towards a more inclusive environment.
Is there a piece of advice you feel like giving to future students?
Try. Being shy is not helpful. Not sharing the same passions with others or not meeting the characteristics that make the stereotype of the mechanical engineer are obstacles that only exist in your mind. Do not be afraid of talking with others because you’ll soon realise mechanical engineering is not just about vehicles and automotive. Get interested in different fields and topics, be curious, and open to new confrontation opportunities. And, most of all, never allow being a woman to be a halt.
Find out more about the Undergraduate Programme in Mechanical Engineering.