TechCamp: the project

TechCamp@POLIMI, which springs from an idea by two Politecnico di Milano professors, Silvia Strada and Mara Tanelli, and by Francesca Sibella, is a new venture under the university’s many orientation initiatives to build new ‘bridges’ between the technical university and secondary schools or professional institutes.

The goal is to offer young secondary school students a brief course to explore the theory, but above all to experiment with particularly relevant, up-to-date technological subjects, starting with robotics, self-driving vehicles and coding. The main goal is not necessarily to guide students towards university studies in engineering, even though there is a huge need in Italy in this regard, but more so to introduce them to the scientific basis of some of the future’s most important technological subjects, even if they choose to follow other paths in their lives.

‘This is a challenge and a responsibility we feel as professors at Italy’s leading technological university,’ explains Silvia Strada, scientific director of TechCamp@POLIMI. ‘There is a lack if STEM figures in our country despite the growing demand in companies. The Politecnico di Milano, which boasts excellent know-how on an international level, is the first Italian university to organise intensive courses in technology, thus opening its doors to young people and offering its professors to prepare ad-hoc lessons and experiments. We professors feel it is our mission to share our expertise with secondary school students when they want to “understand more” and make informed choices about their future university careers.’

TechCamp@POLIMI consists of weekly summer courses in English that cover a widespread need for which families often used to send their children to expensive camps in the UK or USA. The programme began in June 2018 with two courses. The first, entitled ‘Programming, languages for finding our way through ideas’, was conceived and coordinated by Francesco Bruschi and covered Python and Java Script, powerful languages for teaching objects how to communicate with one another and to imitate certain aspects of human intelligence. The second, entitled ‘The robot: foe or friend to be taught?’, was conceived and coordinated by Paolo Rocco and Andrea Zanchettin, and dealt with robots, showing students what movements they can make and how such movements can be described, how robots can be made move as requested and how they can be programmed.

One important added value of TechCamp@POLIMI is the practical part, something that is particularly lacking in Italian schools. ‘In the morning, theory lessons are held, followed by hands-on and applied experience in the afternoon,’ explains Silvia Strada. ‘For example, the students learn Python, writing code to solve a Sudoku puzzle or even write poetry, or they learn the basics of robotics, doing practical group experiments to program two collaborative robots specially purchased for the courses. All of this occurs in the classrooms at the Politecnico di Milano, with visits to research laboratories as well. We also focus strongly on developing students’ soft skills, helping them to prepare a scientific presentation in English of the results obtained by the various teams.’

TechCamp@POLIMI is an initiative created to help students understand what they have a passion for as early as possible. ‘We should always follow our passions,’ says Ferruccio Resta, Rector of the Politecnico. ‘Universities are the generators of the future and this is where we need to begin.’

TechCamp@POLIMI looks forward to seeing you from June 10th to 14th and from June 17th to 21st 2024, offering the subjects that enjoyed great success last year in robotics, coding and self-driving vehicles, hacking and cybersecurity and green energy and with the new AI course.