Politecnico di Milano

Politecnico di Milano: International student competitions that elevate your global education

Learning can take place anywhere; it’s not limited to on-campus facilities like classrooms and research labs or off-campus internships and work placements. This is why Politecnico di Milano strongly supports its students’ participation in international competitions.

Italy’s number one university – according to the QS World University Rankings 2024 – and its students welcome a challenge. Their quality technical education gives engineering, architecture, and design students the foundation they need to succeed. More than that, they encourage cross-collaboration between students from different departments, and international student competitions further foster this connection.

One of many examples is Formula Student, a competition that tests Formula One-style single-seater car engineering design. Politecnico di Milano’s racing department, the DynamiΣ PRC, designs, builds, tests, and promotes their prototype whilst developing a business plan with a detailed cost analysis. The cars compete at major international racetracks and go through dynamic assessments.

In 2019, DynamiΣ PRC placed third in the Formula Student World Championship, solidifying their position among some of the greatest teams worldwide. Today, the team comprises 123 students from all backgrounds. “This helps us better achieve all the realisation goals set for the autonomous driving prototype, as having the variety of skills in the team allows us to work well on all aspects of the machine,” writes the DynamiΣ PRC team on their page.

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International competitions are all about enabling students to experience their dream fields first-hand. Source: Politecnico di Milano

Politecnico di Milano’s team for the CFA Institute Research Challenge is just as ambitious.

Made up of five Master of Science in Management Engineering students, the team competes with other business schools around the world in a global financial analysis competition. Tasks include analysing equity and performing research and in-depth analyses to create a comprehensive report. They will then present it in front of a panel of experts, demonstrating communication skills and mastery of the English language. In 2023, the team won first place in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) final, semi-finals, and qualifying round. They also won the title in the National Championships and were one of the finalists at the global final among 1,100 universities.

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Hands-on opportunities do wonders in ensuring students develop the soft skills essential to thrive in their respective fields. Source: Politecnico di Milano

The Skyward Experimental Rocketry team competes in Portugal for EuRoC, the first rocket launch competition for European university teams, which sees students design experimental probe rockets. As they build their technical skills, team spirit and sportsmanship, they get an opportunity to get in touch with companies in the aerospace industry. Meanwhile, the Physis PEB (Polimi Energy Boat) team joins the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, an international nautical design competition focusing on innovation and eco-sustainability.

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Today, the Physis PEB group consists of over 90 engineering and design students in seven departments. Source: Politecnico di Milano

“We ranked third in our debut race in 2022 after establishing Physis PEB in autumn 2021,” shares a Physis PEB representative on their page. “Can you imagine? We are from Milan, a city without access to the sea, big rivers or a lake to test in. We certainly looked like ‘runaways’ in Monte Carlo.”

Joining competitions, international ones especially, can be a big commitment. But together with a team of like-minded people, the process is just as fulfilling as the rewards you gain from winning.

“What drives us is curiosity and the desire to put into practice what we study in the classroom, to develop new knowledge directly in the field,” writes Physis PEB. “What makes us forget fatigue is the fun of each day spent together in the workshop, where the team is no longer a group of people to work with but becomes a group of friends to talk to.”

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the suite of soft skills participants gain beyond the curriculum.

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Politecnico di Milano students often find that opportunities abroad foster a sense of community among participants, researchers, engineers, and spectators. Source: Politecnico di Milano

Cybathlon is a global competition where people with disabilities compete in everyday tasks using advanced technologies made by different teams. One of these tasks is FES-bike (Functional Electrical Stimulation Bike), where a person with complete paralysis rides a special bike using electrical pulses to move their muscles. In 2019, the team from Politecnico di Milano took part by optimising the bike’s mechanics, adding sensors, creating a control system, and developing software to make ensure it works smoothly.

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The Polimi Sailing Team is made up of five teams – each specialising in sensors, structure, performance and short team, mechatronics, and management, Source: Politecnico di Milano

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Moth Challenge  tasks teams with creating efficient and eco-friendly sailing boats equipped with foils to reduce water friction. Teams compete in a regatta with these boats. The Polimi Sailing Team, active since 2007, comprises about 80 students from various programmes collaborating to design, build, and test their boats. Their projects focus on aerodynamic improvements, sustainable materials, and real-time digital navigation systems. In recent years, they built TETI and FEBE, boats that sailed impressively on Lake Garda once perfected.

“It is satisfying to hear experienced skippers say that the boat is perfect and to see so many enthusiasts watching the race,” enthuses a member of the team. “Not many university teams try their hand at this! We like to think that we are taking up the historical legacy of Enrico Forlanini, the inventor of the hydroplane, who attended Politecnico di Milano, and carrying it forward into a new phase of innovation.”

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