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Interview with Fabio Violante, CEO of Arduino

We've had turbulent years (to say the least). Far from being disoriented, the Alumni of the Poli ride the waves of this complexity: planning where they can, preparing for sudden changes of scenario and betting (but with full knowledge of the facts!) on the next trend. And on technology: from deep tech to IoT, from manufacturing 4.0 to full automation, from the evolution of services to the revolution in telecommunications... "WHAT NOW?" is a series of interviews with Alumni in top positions in business, culture and technology, who ask themselves: what should we expect now?

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According to a news item from the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at the Politecnico di Milano, Fabio Violante is a computer engineering Alumnus ‘with a passion for hardware’. He serves as CEO at Arduino, an open-source rapid prototype platform used every day by millions of designers, architects and companies to quickly and easily bring smart objects and digital devices to life. And it is from hardware and open source that he begins to tell his vision of the future: ‘a new generation is entering the labour market. Girls and boys interested in the impact that their work has on the world’.

Fabio Violante headshot

Impact, we ask Violante, in terms of how everyone’s job contributes to sustainability goals?‘Being mindful of impact means being aware that your own job is a piece of someone else’s work, particularly now that we rely on open source technologies. So there is the somewhat hedonistic personal taste of knowing that I’m building a piece of software which can be used by thousands of other engineers to solve a certain issue. On a higher level, the young people we see are interested in understanding how these technologies can help us confront the challenges facing our planet, like energy consumption: they’re enthusiastic when they can say they have worked on a system which allows a company to reduce their water or energy consumption by 40% and cut greenhouse gas emissions’.

THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE PANETTONE YOU WILL EAT AT CHRISTMAS (AND ON THOSE WHO BAKE IT)

Let’s go back to the collective, to a global point of view. In which direction are these new generations pushing technological innovation? When we ask about technology, Violante always brings us back down to earth:

"the main theme is not technology in itself, but the problem it helps to solve. . If you ask me what will be the next technological revolution I don’t think of a product or an algorithm, I think of daily problems, both for people and for companies, that technology could help to solve. I think of my automatic irrigation system, or of a device for feeding fish in an aquarium, of an employee in a pasta factory that always has hands covered in pasta dough and every time he has to start up a machine he has to first wash his hands to push a button; this, as well as slowing down his work, distracts him and puts him more at risk of having an accident. Or of the doctor who has to set up a treatment on a machine.

What if they could give the machine voice command despite the very noisy environment of the factory or the hospital? It is in this common use of technology that we must look. We are almost there, it’s an easy layer to implement, but lots of companies are not ready yet. Then obviously the development of artificial intelligence takes us much further. Today robots are still “semi-stupid and semi-smart””. They operate a tap but they don’t know it’s a tap, instead in a couple of years they will know it and will decide autonomously which interventions to make.

Today, in many cases, they are still blind and perform programmed repetitive tasks; in the future this will no longer be the case: in a few years' time machine vision and audio, motion control and machine learning will increase the capabilities of machines triggering a substantial and hopefully positive change in our daily lives’.

A BOLT IS NO LONGER ONLY A BOLT

You said that companies are not ready: why?

"Not all companies understand that there is an opportunity to access technological transformations which can lead to new business models. The next step therefore is to democratise access to technology: to allow professionals without a specific training in artificial intelligence to access it, for example.

Our responsibility as engineers is to make these technologies more accessible, to lower the barriers.

The consequence of this democratisation of technology is that there are more technicians working on the same problem: people who may know little about artificial intelligence, but are experts on that problem. I’ll give you an example: an Arduino team works for a company that makes bolts, which are perhaps the least high-tech thing imaginable. Yet, bolts end up in very high-tech objects, such as space rockets and race cars. By working with the people who make bolts, we were able to figure out how to equip them with sensors that detect various parameters, such as vibration or temperature, and that can trigger alarms or make decisions. In short, they can solve problems, from the everyday ones like a leaky tap, to the space problems of a satellite".

We will explore these topics in depth at the 11th Alumni Politecnico di Milano Convention. Register for the in-person event.

fabio violante home

Interview with Fabio Violante, CEO of Arduino

We've had turbulent years (to say the least). Far from being disoriented, the Alumni of the Poli ride the waves of this complexity: planning where they can, preparing for sudden changes of scenario and betting (but with full knowledge of the facts!) on the next trend. And on technology: from deep tech to IoT, from manufacturing 4.0 to full automation, from the evolution of services to the revolution in telecommunications... "WHAT NOW?" is a series of interviews with Alumni in top positions in business, culture and technology, who ask themselves: what should we expect now?

__

According to a news item from the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at the Politecnico di Milano, Fabio Violante is a computer engineering Alumnus ‘with a passion for hardware’. He serves as CEO at Arduino, an open-source rapid prototype platform used every day by millions of designers, architects and companies to quickly and easily bring smart objects and digital devices to life. And it is from hardware and open source that he begins to tell his vision of the future: ‘a new generation is entering the labour market. Girls and boys interested in the impact that their work has on the world’.

Fabio Violante headshot

Impact, we ask Violante, in terms of how everyone’s job contributes to sustainability goals?‘Being mindful of impact means being aware that your own job is a piece of someone else’s work, particularly now that we rely on open source technologies. So there is the somewhat hedonistic personal taste of knowing that I’m building a piece of software which can be used by thousands of other engineers to solve a certain issue. On a higher level, the young people we see are interested in understanding how these technologies can help us confront the challenges facing our planet, like energy consumption: they’re enthusiastic when they can say they have worked on a system which allows a company to reduce their water or energy consumption by 40% and cut greenhouse gas emissions’.

THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON THE PANETTONE YOU WILL EAT AT CHRISTMAS (AND ON THOSE WHO BAKE IT)

Let’s go back to the collective, to a global point of view. In which direction are these new generations pushing technological innovation? When we ask about technology, Violante always brings us back down to earth:

"the main theme is not technology in itself, but the problem it helps to solve. . If you ask me what will be the next technological revolution I don’t think of a product or an algorithm, I think of daily problems, both for people and for companies, that technology could help to solve. I think of my automatic irrigation system, or of a device for feeding fish in an aquarium, of an employee in a pasta factory that always has hands covered in pasta dough and every time he has to start up a machine he has to first wash his hands to push a button; this, as well as slowing down his work, distracts him and puts him more at risk of having an accident. Or of the doctor who has to set up a treatment on a machine.

What if they could give the machine voice command despite the very noisy environment of the factory or the hospital? It is in this common use of technology that we must look. We are almost there, it’s an easy layer to implement, but lots of companies are not ready yet. Then obviously the development of artificial intelligence takes us much further. Today robots are still “semi-stupid and semi-smart””. They operate a tap but they don’t know it’s a tap, instead in a couple of years they will know it and will decide autonomously which interventions to make.

Today, in many cases, they are still blind and perform programmed repetitive tasks; in the future this will no longer be the case: in a few years' time machine vision and audio, motion control and machine learning will increase the capabilities of machines triggering a substantial and hopefully positive change in our daily lives’.

A BOLT IS NO LONGER ONLY A BOLT

You said that companies are not ready: why?

"Not all companies understand that there is an opportunity to access technological transformations which can lead to new business models. The next step therefore is to democratise access to technology: to allow professionals without a specific training in artificial intelligence to access it, for example.

Our responsibility as engineers is to make these technologies more accessible, to lower the barriers.

The consequence of this democratisation of technology is that there are more technicians working on the same problem: people who may know little about artificial intelligence, but are experts on that problem. I’ll give you an example: an Arduino team works for a company that makes bolts, which are perhaps the least high-tech thing imaginable. Yet, bolts end up in very high-tech objects, such as space rockets and race cars. By working with the people who make bolts, we were able to figure out how to equip them with sensors that detect various parameters, such as vibration or temperature, and that can trigger alarms or make decisions. In short, they can solve problems, from the everyday ones like a leaky tap, to the space problems of a satellite".

We will explore these topics in depth at the 11th Alumni Politecnico di Milano Convention. Register for the in-person event.

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Polimi Ambassador: Politecnico students never tire of studying

As if the normal study load was not enough, at the Politecnico there is an advanced training programme for Laura Magistrale’s students who wish to become experts in sustainable development issues. This is the Polimi Ambassadorprogramme: professor Isabella Novavice dean of the School of Industrial and Information Engineering and director of the Ambassador project, tells us about it.

isabella nova
Isabella Nova

"It is linked to the “Technologies for Transitions” experiment, a cross-university agreement between the polytechnic universities of Bari, Milan and Turin, the universities of Bologna, Napoli Federico II, Padova, Palermo and La Sapienza in Rome. It is heading in the direction of the sustainable development goals of digital and energy transitions, which has opened up new scenarios and new challenges and which is reflected in technical-scientific professions".

And therefore, continues Nova, it is also reflected in the teaching and the universities that have the task of training these new professional figures.  

We are talking about professional figures with a solid scientific and technological base, but open to geopolitical challenges, integrated in a complex and interdisciplinary system, who know how to design with the new emergencies and changes that we are experiencing in mind. The Politecnico has therefore made available to the students who so wish, in an entirely inclusive and unrestricted manner, the opportunity to supplement their own studies with topical courses: "the main aim of an Ambassador study path is to gain interdisciplinary tools and methods and an aptitude to working with a more systematic vision and in multi-sectoral environments" 

polimi ambassador
Photo by Headway on Unsplash

In the first year and a half of this experiment (it began in the last academic year), there have been around 800 students who have decided to take it: 800 students have invested their time and energy into taking supplementary courses and building their own study plan, paying particular attention to these issues.

"Students are asked to put in extra effort: not only to obtain the classic 120 credits needed for a Laurea Magistrale, but to earn a total of 130 credits, 30 of which must be in courses on the topic for which they wish to become an Ambassador; the relevant courses are to be chosen from a list made available by the Politecnico and must not belong to the students' regular study programme. New ad hoc courses have also been activated, each with contributions from at least two professors who typically belong to different departments, again aiming for greater interdisciplinarity and designed for a mixed attendance: designers, architects and engineers all together". 

The first pilot experiences of the project are the training of qualified engineering skills to tackle the multidimensional problems posed by the ecological transition (Green Technologies) and by the digital transition of infrastructures (Smart Infrastructures), topics that are also of great strategic importance within the perspective of using the NRRP’s measures for transversal skills. And the project is set to grow. As of this September, a Polimi Ambassador programme in Inclusive Design has been added that is pending approval and will be active in September 2023. This is a new programme in ‘Creative Thinking’ technologies. Talks are underway with the Ministry to formalise these programmes at a national level.   

“Developing multidisciplinary skills means to prepare the new generations for the challenges of the future, characterised by a growing complexity. The Politecnico di Milano’s initiatives and the university system aimed at a “horizontal” education, far from the traditional multidisciplinary and exclusively technical-engineering approach, are heading in this direction. A vision aimed at the big issues of sustainability and an evolution of skills which must be nurtured even within career paths. It is no coincidence that the major issues linked to energy, digitalisation and green infrastructure are at the heart of the NRRP and the interests of the European Community. Cutting-edge issues in which we must invest as a university system, as a productive fabric, and, ultimately, as a country,“

rector Ferruccio Resta commented.

You can find this and many other news items in the next issue of MAP. Become a member to receive it.

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Credits header: Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Credits home: Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

10 million thanks from the students and researchers at the Politecnico di Milano

In the 2020-2022 three-year period, the Politecnico has received received more than 10 million euros in donations from individuals and companies. “We’ve hit the target which we set at the beginning of the three years, as community of donors”, commented professor Enrico Zio, President of the Alumni Politecnico di Milano and also delegate of the rector for individual fundraising. “The Association is a community dedicated to the development of the Politecnico, which it supports financially with both donations form its individual members and the involvement of their professional organisations in fundraising projects”.

Read more in Map 10: An overview of your donations

5 AREAS OF INTERVENTION FOR YOUR DONATIONS

First of all, supporting excellence: of the 10 million, around half is used to fund 483 scholarshipsdesigned to reward deserving students. A percentage is reserved to encourage women who wish to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to enrol at the Poli and another (around 600 thousand euros) has funded 15 doctoral scholarships: 15 young researchers who carried out research projects. The main topics they focus on are linked to technology in health, the world of ecological transition and transport.

Around 1,800,000 euros have helped to update the laboratories, instruments and tools, infrastructure and the Politecnico campus . Around 550 thousand euros have funded innovative teachingprojects. More than 2,200,000 euros have been dedicated to high social impact research projects (you can discover them all at this link). The Alumni project has been funded thanks to nearly 300 thousand euros in donations.

10 MILIONI

"I am particularly grateful and proud to be able to say that these funds have allowed lots of students to attend the Politecnico’, professor Zio comments. "This exceptional result has been achieved thanks to the backing of the Alumni and, in this case, there is also often the added value of meeting with donors, who are accomplished professionals, who make available not only their economic support but also their time and their expertise. To continue in this direction, I invite you to continue to donate and support the activities of the Alumni Politecnico di Milano, to enable the tools of this community to grow so that it becomes increasingly more participative and cohesive."

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Awards 2022: un anno di Alumni e progetti politecnici premiati nel mondo 

GENNAIO 

  • Simone Callegari, Alumnus Ingegneria dei Materiali e Nanotecnologie 2015, riceve il CERN Alumni Champion Award per i suoi contributi sul blog del CERN durante il periodo della pandemia.  
simone callegari
Credits: Simone Callegari 

MARZO 

  • Ilaria Marelli, designer e Alumna Architettura, ha ricevuto il Wallpaper Design Awards 2022 nella categoria Best Outdoor Living per il suo il divano Calipso, “the floating sofa”, progettato per Ethimo. 
ilaria marelli
Credits: Linkedin

Premiati i vincitori dell’Intellectual Property Award. Dal Poli:  

  • Andrea Bernasconi, Fabio Biondani, Luca Capoferri, Alberto Favier, Federico Gualdoni, Carlo Riboldi, Lorenzo Trainelli, Carmen Velarde Lopez de Ayala, gli inventori di HYBRIS: batterie strutturali per velivoli elettrici  
  • Luca Magagnin, Gabriele Panzeri, Eugenio Gilbertini, Alessandra Accogli, Matteo Salerno, Luca Bertoli, inventori di SINERGY, batteria a celle di flusso metallo-polisolfuri. 

APRILE 

  • Paolo Asti, Carlo Carone, Sonia Calzoni, Massimo Roj, Margherita Carabillò, Pasquale Francesco Mariani Orlandi: gli Alumni alla testa di 7 progetti premiati da Urban File
urban file home

GIUGNO 

I politecnici vincitori della XXVII edizione del Compasso d’Oro

  • Antonio Citterio - Compasso d’oro for Lifetime Achievement 
  • Giulio Cappellini - Compasso d’oro for Lifetime Achievement 
  • Cini Boeri - Compasso d'Oro for Product Career 
  • Scale for blood donation called “Milano” | Cefriel 
  • Springa, fondata nel 2016 dall’idea dei tre Alumni Davide Cevoli, Lorenzo Frangi e Alessandro Trifoni. 
  • Ricehouse, co-fondata dall’Alumna Tiziana Monterisi 
  • Gli Alumni Naomi Hasuike, Luca Catrame e Andrea Sechi fanno parte del team di Makio Hasuike & Co che ha creato LAMBROgio 
  • Nel team di lavoro che ha progettato E-Worker c’è l’Alumnus Felice Contessini 
  • Eduardo Staszowski è tra gli editor di Designing in Dark Times, “un libro e una nuova collana per avviare una riflessione sulle ragioni e le responsabilità del design oggi”. 

LUGLIO 

  • La prof. Maria Prandini è eletta presidente della International Federation of Automatic Control.
maria prandini
Credits: Politecnico di Milano

AGOSTO 

  • Manfredi Rizza porta a casa il podio per l’Italia ai campionati europei di Monaco nella canoa – K2 200m maschile. 
  • Pietro Ravasi vince con gli Sharks lo scudetto di campioni d’Italia nel powerchair hockey. 
sharks ravasi
Foto di: Sharks Monza, Marco Mancinelli e Mirco Esposto

SETTEMBRE 

earhart home
  • Annalisa Andaloro, Giulia Rossi, Maria Vittoria Trussoni sono le 3 politecniche nella classifica Fortune 40 under 40.
fortune home
Credits: FORTUNE Italia
  • Biennale 2023: gli Alumni e architetti Giacomo Ardesio, Alessandro Bonizzoni, Nicola Campri, Veronica Caprino e Claudia Mainardi, nel collettivo Fosbury Architecture vincono il progetto del Padiglione Italia.
Biennale collettivo fosbury
Fosbury Architecture. Foto © Gianluca di Ioia, La Triennale
  • Giorgia Lupi vince il National Design Award for Communication Design.
giorgia lupi
Credits: Giorgia Lupi on Instagram

OTTOBRE 

  • L’architetto Rajendra Kumar, Alumnus del Politecnico di Milano, selezionato tra i Most Admired Education Influencers in India.
Rajendra Kumar home
  • Alla presenza di Eni Award 2022, ceremony was held at the Quirinale, attended by President Sergio Mattarella. Tra questi, le pluripremiate Sinergy Flow, creata da tre Alumni e ricercatori politecnici e Ricehouse, start-up dell’Alumna e architetta Tiziana Monterisi.
Eni Award 2022 02
Credis: eni.com

NOVEMBRE 

  • L’Alumna Elena Bottinelli, laureata in ingegneria e Head of innovation and digitalization del Gruppo San Donato, è stata inserita nella lista delle 50 Most Powerful Women della rivista Fortune Italia.
elena bottinelli
Credits: FORTUNE Italia

DICEMBRE 

in aggiornamento

MAP is one of the initiatives dedicated to the Alumni of the Politecnico di Milano. To receive a hard copy directly at your home, support the editorial staff with an annual donation..

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Un anno nei laboratori del Poli

Non possiamo raccontarvi tutti i traguardi dei nostri ricercatori, perché intaseremmo l’internet. Ecco una panoramica sui progetti che hanno fatto le prime pagine dei giornali (o quasi). 

GENNAIO 

tombe giapponesi NintokuTomb
Daisen Kofun, aerial view (© Ministry of Territory, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)
progetto rose
Credits: meafarma

FEBBRAIO 

MARZO 

massimo tavoni
Massimo Tavoni
sara bagherifard
Sara Bagherifard
intellectual property award
Credits: Associazione Netval

APRILE 

  • ERC Advanced Grant a Manuela Raimondi per lo studio BEACONSANDEGG, che combina meccanobiologia, bioingegneria, oncologia, genetica, microtecnologia, biofisica e farmacologia al fine di sviluppare nuovo metodo per la cura del tumore al seno 
manuela raimondi
Manuela Raimondi
daniele ielmini
Daniele Ielmini

MAGGIO 

Credits: DEIB

GIUGNO 

appia gicarus

LUGLIO 

Photo_Mirko Trisolini MSCA
Credits: Mirko Trisolini

SETTEMBRE 

liciacube home
Credits: ansa

OTTOBRE 

  • Ai blocchi di partenza il progetto europeo UN-BIASED (UNcertainty quantification and modeling Bias Inhibition by an Agnostic Synergistic Exploitation of multi-fidelity Data per sviluppare nuove tecniche di modellazione di sistemi aerodinamici complessi
  • Come parte del Progetto SOS-Water, l’Environmental Intelligent lab studierà i limiti entro i quali il nostro pianeta continuerà ad essere in grado di compensare i cambiamenti e fornire supporto vitale.

NOVEMBRE 

  • Parte il progetto europeo ECOSENS (Economic and Social Considerations for the Future of Nuclear Energy in Society): analizzare le opinioni e le percezioni dei cittadini sul rischio, i benefici e le potenzialità legate all’uso delle tecnologie nucleari (attuali e future) in relazione alle principali sfide sociali
  • Dopo il successo della “fase A”, il Politecnico di Milano e l’Agenzia Spaziale Europea stanno sviluppando la “fase B” della missione LUMIO (Lunar Meteoroid Impacts Observer). L’obiettivo è monitorare il lato nascosto della Luna, per rilevare lampi di luce associati agli impatti di meteoriti.
  • Pubblicato sulla rivista “Nature Chemistry” lo studio che evidenzia una nuova classe di reazioni chimiche, la cui velocità è controllata da fenomeni quantistici.

DICEMBRE 

in aggiornamento

La ricerca al Politecnico di Milano è possibile anche grazie al supporto della Community degli Alumni. Scopri come diventare donatore.

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Opening of new Lerici building

The new Lerici Buildinghas been opened on the Leonardo Campus and will be known as “Edificio 3A” as of today.

The project expands the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, providing the Politecnico community with further high-quality areas in which to fully enjoy our campus.

The new building has been constructed over an area of 1,278m2 between buildings 3 and 5 and via Celoria that was previously occupied by the old Lerici building, itself constructed between the ‘40s and ‘50s.

With a rectangular footprint, the new construction consists of a lower ground floor, two floors above ground and a flat roof with solar panels at different heights. The composition of the building has enabled the creation of three levels of green roofing, on which nine forest trees have been planted.

The building features curtain walls using glass and opaque panels, with visible blocks of concrete masonry and finished with coloured plaster.

The façade facing via Celoria is an intense green so as to create vertical continuity with the garden terraces.

The inauguration was attended by Rector Ferruccio Resta, Vice Rector Emilio Faroldi, General Director Graziano Dragoni, Director of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Alberto Guadagnini and the Architect Daniel Marcaccio of the Real Estate, Construction and Development Division, responsible for the project.

Read also: Leggi anche: https://www.polimi.it/en/articoli/inaugurata-la-nuova-palazzina-lerici

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Selling the supply chain supervision: interview with Lucia Frigerio, fourth generation entrepreneur  

We've had turbulent years (to say the least). Far from being disoriented, the Alumni of the Poli ride the waves of this complexity: planning where they can, preparing for sudden changes of scenario and betting (but with full knowledge of the facts!) on the next trend. And on technology: from deep tech to IoT, from manufacturing 4.0 to full automation, from the evolution of services to the revolution in telecommunications... "WHAT NOW?" is a series of interviews with Alumni in top positions in business, culture and technology, who ask themselves: what should we expect now? 

—  

Her great-grandfather made pasta dough mixers. From wire drawing machines to systems for processing metal cables, the step is far from short: over 120 years of history, to be precise. Today MFL, founded by Mario Frigerio in 1897, is an engineering multinational with 450 employees, a consolidated turnover of €100 million and offices in Italy but also in Germany, Spain, China and the United States. The core business is the design and manufacture of machinery for the production of cables, wires and ropes in steel, aluminium and copper. Machinery produced entirely in Europe and exported all over the world. 

“Metal cables, ropes and wires can be found everywhere,” explains Lucia Frigerio (Mario’s great-granddaughter and Alumna in Mechanical Engineering), today at the helm of the group, which has always remained in the hands of the family throughout its numerous transformations. They are found everywhere, literally: in sponge scourers, in the hangers for wardrobes (in Milan they are called omètti), in the cables that operate elevators, cranes, cable cars, freight elevators, in the walls of our houses and in reinforced concrete, in bridges, and even in all electronic devices, in energy distribution networks, in telecommunication networks.

“There is low-carbon steel, which is used in low added value productions, like the domestic products you mentioned such as sponges, but also supermarket trolleys, nails etc. High-carbon steel is mainly used in construction. Copper and aluminium, on the other hand, are used in telecommunications and power transmission, both energy networks and vehicles.” They are the threads with which the world we have built around us are woven. MFL group produces the machines that “spin them”.  

Lucia Frigerio
Credits: Polimi

MACHINES THAT COST MILLIONS OF EURO AREN’T SOLD EVERY DAY 

“Our plants have an average life of 30 years; in fact, we don’t sell them every day. Obviously we cover maintenance and retrofitting, that goes without saying, but our main market, today, serves the increase in the production capacity of our customers (precisely the producers of these threads, such as Prysmian, a giant that has grown in the fragmented Italian market). They are materials that are consumed, so production is constant.” And the market too. Constant, reliable and predictable, or at least it was until a couple of years ago. But Lucia was not caught unprepared. "The new frontier of manufacturing is to servitize machines. That is, I sell you the asset, but this asset has the ability to give you information that is as valuable as the product it produces.” 

In itself, this is nothing new: the trend began back in the 1970s, but of course the quantity and quality of the data that we can collect today are far greater. Potentially, at least. And it's a growing world. “Knowing this, we have been working for years to further enrich the set of information that our machines can provide, in order to help both our customers and us make strategic decisions. The novelty in this type of manufacturing is that we do not want to provide a one-shot service, but a sort of subscription, on the model of high-tech and deep-tech companies.”  

Lucia Frigerio
MFL (courtesy of Lucia Frigerio)

MAYBE WE HAVE NOT YET GRASPED WHAT MANUFACTURING CAN DO IF IT MOVES TO THE CLOUD 

According to this model, explains Lucia, MFL would manage the servers with the data extracted from the connected machines.

“In addition to selling the machinery, we would obtain recurring revenue on the same sale, in exchange for real-time information on its operation, for example for diagnostics or risk prediction, and prompt action in the event of automatic reporting of problems. This is the near future, if we think in the short term. Considering an even later step, in the medium term (5-10 years), this investment will have allowed us to gather a great deal of information. Which can then be used to structure predictive algorithms, not only to detect problems promptly, but also to foresee them, to plan strategic investments, to launch research and development campaigns.”

The “WHAT, NOW?”, therefore, moves in the direction of an ever greater interaction between manufacturing and artificial intelligence. “Yes, but not only that. The point is man-machine, or rather, system-machine interaction. It is no longer a question of automating manufacturing, but of sharing and rationalizing the entire production chain, from those who extract the raw material, to the steel mill, through us who manufacture the machines, to the cable manufacturer and finally to those who use it: the whole value chain would benefit from this supervision. And today it doesn't exist.”  

IF YOU JUST WANTED TO BUY A MACHINE, YOU'RE IN THE WRONG CENTURY 

Why doesn't it exist?, we ask Lucia. "The technology to do it exists, but we need to change the mentalitythe paradigm. Proposing the sale of digital services, for those who manufacture machines, is complicated: because you are used to selling “hard metal”. It's a big jump from there to selling impalpable digital services. And before convincing the customer, who is also used to buying “hard metal” and who often does not even have 56k in the factory, I have to convince my sellers that the main product is no longer the machine but the service, the cloud, the supervision of the supply chain. That is the direction in which I want to lead the group.”  And how is it going? “Well, for the goals we set ourselves in these early years: that is, countless pitches, regardless of the situation.

The difficulty for my sales reps was understanding that it doesn’t matter whether the customer is interested or not, we have to propose this supervision, and above all we must understand how the idea is received. It's the only way you can get a sense of how to move on the market. Twenty years ago, when the value of a machine was 100, the customer perceived that 90% consisted of the vehicle and 10% automation. Today the proportion is 30% machine, 30% automation and 30% services. Look at Tesla: I don't buy it for the mechanics, which are ugly, badly made, they break. I buy it because it is a computer on 4 wheels and it offers me services, and it is these services that I pay for very year. This is the concept: we are still at a very early stage, even before embryonic. But we have bet on it heavily and invested in a third company that does just that. We are sowing the seeds; sooner or later the flowers will bloom.”  

PRODUCTS WILL NO LONGER BE TRADED COMMODITIES: MANUFACTURERS WILL SELL SERVICES, CONNECTION, INTERACTION 

Therefore the next technological revolution, according to Lucia, will not be a technology or a set of technologies, but the real and complete integration of technologies that already exist.. A much greater leap than we imagine when we simply think of autonomous driving or quantum computers. And, speaking of Tesla, traditionally it is the automotive market that drives industrial innovation, a sort of litmus test of technological progress. But is that still the case?

“I don't think so,” says Lucia. The automotive industry is losing this position of leadership. Not because there is anyone else, but because there will no longer be any product capable of being at the cutting edge. The time it takes to produce it, and it is already obsolete. The physical product will be a commodity, the real saleable product will be how we interact with it.” 

We will explore these topics in depth at the 11th Alumni Politecnico di Milano Convention. Register for the in-person event.

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Credits home: www.expometals.net

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Selling the supply chain supervision: interview with Lucia Frigerio, fourth generation entrepreneur  

We've had turbulent years (to say the least). Far from being disoriented, the Alumni of the Poli ride the waves of this complexity: planning where they can, preparing for sudden changes of scenario and betting (but with full knowledge of the facts!) on the next trend. And on technology: from deep tech to IoT, from manufacturing 4.0 to full automation, from the evolution of services to the revolution in telecommunications... "WHAT NOW?" is a series of interviews with Alumni in top positions in business, culture and technology, who ask themselves: what should we expect now? 

—  

Her great-grandfather made pasta dough mixers. From wire drawing machines to systems for processing metal cables, the step is far from short: over 120 years of history, to be precise. Today MFL, founded by Mario Frigerio in 1897, is an engineering multinational with 450 employees, a consolidated turnover of €100 million and offices in Italy but also in Germany, Spain, China and the United States. The core business is the design and manufacture of machinery for the production of cables, wires and ropes in steel, aluminium and copper. Machinery produced entirely in Europe and exported all over the world. 

“Metal cables, ropes and wires can be found everywhere,” explains Lucia Frigerio (Mario’s great-granddaughter and Alumna in Mechanical Engineering), today at the helm of the group, which has always remained in the hands of the family throughout its numerous transformations. They are found everywhere, literally: in sponge scourers, in the hangers for wardrobes (in Milan they are called omètti), in the cables that operate elevators, cranes, cable cars, freight elevators, in the walls of our houses and in reinforced concrete, in bridges, and even in all electronic devices, in energy distribution networks, in telecommunication networks.

“There is low-carbon steel, which is used in low added value productions, like the domestic products you mentioned such as sponges, but also supermarket trolleys, nails etc. High-carbon steel is mainly used in construction. Copper and aluminium, on the other hand, are used in telecommunications and power transmission, both energy networks and vehicles.” They are the threads with which the world we have built around us are woven. MFL group produces the machines that “spin them”.  

Lucia Frigerio
Credits: Polimi

MACHINES THAT COST MILLIONS OF EURO AREN’T SOLD EVERY DAY 

“Our plants have an average life of 30 years; in fact, we don’t sell them every day. Obviously we cover maintenance and retrofitting, that goes without saying, but our main market, today, serves the increase in the production capacity of our customers (precisely the producers of these threads, such as Prysmian, a giant that has grown in the fragmented Italian market). They are materials that are consumed, so production is constant.” And the market too. Constant, reliable and predictable, or at least it was until a couple of years ago. But Lucia was not caught unprepared. "The new frontier of manufacturing is to servitize machines. That is, I sell you the asset, but this asset has the ability to give you information that is as valuable as the product it produces.” 

In itself, this is nothing new: the trend began back in the 1970s, but of course the quantity and quality of the data that we can collect today are far greater. Potentially, at least. And it's a growing world. “Knowing this, we have been working for years to further enrich the set of information that our machines can provide, in order to help both our customers and us make strategic decisions. The novelty in this type of manufacturing is that we do not want to provide a one-shot service, but a sort of subscription, on the model of high-tech and deep-tech companies.”  

Lucia Frigerio
MFL (courtesy of Lucia Frigerio)

MAYBE WE HAVE NOT YET GRASPED WHAT MANUFACTURING CAN DO IF IT MOVES TO THE CLOUD 

According to this model, explains Lucia, MFL would manage the servers with the data extracted from the connected machines.

“In addition to selling the machinery, we would obtain recurring revenue on the same sale, in exchange for real-time information on its operation, for example for diagnostics or risk prediction, and prompt action in the event of automatic reporting of problems. This is the near future, if we think in the short term. Considering an even later step, in the medium term (5-10 years), this investment will have allowed us to gather a great deal of information. Which can then be used to structure predictive algorithms, not only to detect problems promptly, but also to foresee them, to plan strategic investments, to launch research and development campaigns.”

The “WHAT, NOW?”, therefore, moves in the direction of an ever greater interaction between manufacturing and artificial intelligence. “Yes, but not only that. The point is man-machine, or rather, system-machine interaction. It is no longer a question of automating manufacturing, but of sharing and rationalizing the entire production chain, from those who extract the raw material, to the steel mill, through us who manufacture the machines, to the cable manufacturer and finally to those who use it: the whole value chain would benefit from this supervision. And today it doesn't exist.”  

IF YOU JUST WANTED TO BUY A MACHINE, YOU'RE IN THE WRONG CENTURY 

Why doesn't it exist?, we ask Lucia. "The technology to do it exists, but we need to change the mentalitythe paradigm. Proposing the sale of digital services, for those who manufacture machines, is complicated: because you are used to selling “hard metal”. It's a big jump from there to selling impalpable digital services. And before convincing the customer, who is also used to buying “hard metal” and who often does not even have 56k in the factory, I have to convince my sellers that the main product is no longer the machine but the service, the cloud, the supervision of the supply chain. That is the direction in which I want to lead the group.”  And how is it going? “Well, for the goals we set ourselves in these early years: that is, countless pitches, regardless of the situation.

The difficulty for my sales reps was understanding that it doesn’t matter whether the customer is interested or not, we have to propose this supervision, and above all we must understand how the idea is received. It's the only way you can get a sense of how to move on the market. Twenty years ago, when the value of a machine was 100, the customer perceived that 90% consisted of the vehicle and 10% automation. Today the proportion is 30% machine, 30% automation and 30% services. Look at Tesla: I don't buy it for the mechanics, which are ugly, badly made, they break. I buy it because it is a computer on 4 wheels and it offers me services, and it is these services that I pay for very year. This is the concept: we are still at a very early stage, even before embryonic. But we have bet on it heavily and invested in a third company that does just that. We are sowing the seeds; sooner or later the flowers will bloom.”  

PRODUCTS WILL NO LONGER BE TRADED COMMODITIES: MANUFACTURERS WILL SELL SERVICES, CONNECTION, INTERACTION 

Therefore the next technological revolution, according to Lucia, will not be a technology or a set of technologies, but the real and complete integration of technologies that already exist.. A much greater leap than we imagine when we simply think of autonomous driving or quantum computers. And, speaking of Tesla, traditionally it is the automotive market that drives industrial innovation, a sort of litmus test of technological progress. But is that still the case?

“I don't think so,” says Lucia. The automotive industry is losing this position of leadership. Not because there is anyone else, but because there will no longer be any product capable of being at the cutting edge. The time it takes to produce it, and it is already obsolete. The physical product will be a commodity, the real saleable product will be how we interact with it.” 

We will explore these topics in depth at the 11th Alumni Politecnico di Milano Convention. Register for the in-person event.

.

Credits home: www.expometals.net

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Regeneration of the Bovisa-Goccia area

A Memorandum of Intent was signed for the completion of a sustainable urban regeneration and quality project in the “Bovisa-Goccia-Villapizzone” area of Milan. 

The project, which involves Renzo Piano among others, covers an area of about 325,000m2, owned by the Municipality of Milan (about 234,000m2) and the Politecnico (about 91,000m2), with the aim of redeveloping the Bovisa-Goccia area. 

Various works are planned: 

New university campus: the Politecnico di Milano envisages the completion of redevelopment work within the area for the purpose of creating a scientific park/innovation hub and an expansion of the current Bovisa Campus, with areas dedicated to services for students and local residents. 

Civic schools: the construction of two buildings for the Fondazione Milano - Scuole Civiche is planned as part of the Bovisa-Goccia project, with the aim of gathering the city's civic schools in a single hub. 

Bovisa and Villapizzone stations: improvement works are planned for the links between the two railway stations and between the same and the new residential properties expected within the Goccia area by means of a new integrated system of provision for cyclists and pedestrians, tramways and roads.  

Urban forest: the creation of a large, public, urban park is planned by 2030, by reusing existing green areas and programming further planting as part of an innovative process of reforestation.  

The Memorandum of Intent was signed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility, the Ministry of University and Research, Politecnico di Milano, the Lombardy Region, the Municipality of Milan, FNM, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (FS Group).

"This protocol is a concrete step toward implementing the redevelopment project for the area," Urban Regeneration Councilor Giancarlo Tancredi La Repubblica: "this section of Milan will become another part of the polycentric city."

Credits home: Milano Città Stato

Credits header: Urban File

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Sound-trapping panel-labyrinth: an invention by three Politecnico's Alumni

Forbes has dubbed them "the engineers of silence": Luca D’Alessandro, Giovanni Capellariand Stefano Caverniare three Politecnico's Alumni, researchers and founders of the start-up Phononic Vibes, born in 2018 as a Politecnico di Milano's spin-off which has recently won a 6 million euro funding round. 

phononic-vibes
Credits: Forbes

Underpinning this rapid rise is an invention (and 12 patents): a modular device for the isolation of low-frequency and broad-spectrum vibrations, in other words noise and vibration absorbing panels made of "labyrinth metamaterials" capable of absorbing both sound and mechanical waves. These metamaterials are artificially created with specific electromagnetic properties that distinguish them from other materials; their macroscopic characteristics depend not only on their molecular structure but also on their structural geometry.

They have a unique "labyrinth-like" designthat allows the wave to be reflected several times within the structure, thus progressively reducing until it disappears. Its periodic structures are made from materials commonly used in civil and mechanical engineering, such as steel and concrete, or even 3D-printed recycled plastics. Several of the devices can be assembled side by side to create a true soundproof barrier. The device is therefore able to limit the propagation of vibrations, both elastic and acoustic, generated by traffic, machinery and equipment, with the aim of mitigating against both structural damage to buildings and noise associated with an urban environment. Fonte: Polilink  

EFFECTIVE, BEAUTIFUL AND ECONOMIC 

Phononic Vibes' special feature is its panels, which are 3D-printed from waste plastic and enable a vibration reduction several orders of magnitude higher than that achieved by currently available technologies on the market, all at a significantly lower cost. It can eliminate many types of noise - from medium-frequency sounds, characteristic of speech and some musical instruments, to low-frequency sounds, caused by engines. It also has a wide range of applications, from construction to automotive to domestic uses.  

phononic-vibes
Credits: Sole24ore

Forbes has reported that the technology has passed the scrutinyof what has become known as the "Harvard of transport", i.e., Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company. "We developed a transparent, highly absorbent panel to be used around stations or railway tracks, as an alternative to the steel walls currently used to reduce noise pollution," says D'Alessandro. "A glass window has a completely different effect in an urban area, as glass usually reflects sound, instead of absorbing it.” Unlike the one produced by Phononic Vibes. 

THE FOUNDING ALUMNI 

Phononic Vibes’ journey is one of many examples of how the technology transfer of the Politecnico di Milano has a concrete impact on the high-tech industry, bringing the results of research activities out of the laboratories and into the corporate world.

Giovanni Capellariobtained his PhD degree from the Politecnico di Milano in 2018 with a thesis in Machine Learning, in addition to working and spending several months at the ETH University in Zurich.Stefano Cavernigraduated in Civil Engineering in 2017 with a thesis in the field of metamaterials, having specialised in Structures. 

Luca D’Alessandroreceived his PhD from the Politecnico di Milano, after having also spent a period of time abroad at MIT in Boston, specialising in the field of metamaterials and the optimisation of periodic structures for acoustic and vibration isolation. It was actually Luca's PhD thesis that was the starting point for the start-up. After participating in Switch2Product, the Politecnico di Milano's Innovation Challenge, Luca decided to embark on this entrepreneurial path by partnering with the two other founders Giovanni, a PhD colleague, and Stefano, a colleague and thesis student at the Politecnico di Milano. The business has experienced rapid growth, with its operational team now consisting of 10 people. Fonte: Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, “Il coraggio di innovare”