Currencies of tomorrow
Avio Aero engineers engaged in a new educational endeavor, purely aeronautical, with the aim to become the primary medium of exchange between the university and the company.
There are two faces to a coin. Each is essential to the other. Their coexistence is a guarantee of the authenticity and value of the currency itself. It is almost impossible to find a coin with a just one single face, and even if it could be found, its value would certainly be compromised. So, considering a coin as the union of two essential variables that generate authenticity and value, and associating its sides with, for example, Industry and University, this imaginary currency could even be called future currency.
At Avio Aero, "future currency" is definitely a long-term currency for continuous investment: for 25 years, the company has engaged in technical or educational collaborations in synergy with universities in Italy and abroad. Over the years, the relationship between the two faces of this coin has intensified and grown, thanks to the exchange and new experience that strengthen it, increasing its value. For example, a few months ago one of the biggest results to date occurred: the first graduates in Advanced Manufacturing received their degrees from the engineering universities in Turin, Naples and Bari.
Surprising results generate not only value but also energy for new projects, at times more specific, more technical, or even more aeronautical. Like the collaboration between Avio Aero and the Polytechnic University of Turin for the Engines for Aircrafts course in the Aerospace Engineering degree. In this class, students were able to take advantage of the lessons given by "assistant professors", or even guest lecturers, i.e. Avio Aero engineers. Over 9 seminars, one a week, Avio Aero's experts brought to the classroom experience on concrete, fundamental and cutting-edge aspects, concerning the design and operation of aircraft engines, which are not usually discussed in such depth during traditional academic lessons: from digital to additive, from combustors to certifications.
"Our aim was to raise students' awareness of new issues and skills that are becoming increasingly fundamental in the industrial world of aeronautics," explains Marco Moletta, Avio Aero's Advanced Lead Engineer and project coordinator. "For several years we have been working with Professor Pastrone. He immediately gave his buy-in to this umpteenth collaboration experience."
Dario Pastrone, full professor of Aerospace Propulsion at the Polytechnic University of Turin, commented on this first experience with extended teaching: "Young people need to know what awaits them in the real world of industry. There is nothing better than learning from real professionals, from an engineer who, in all probability, completed a degree course similar to that of the young people who attend these lessons. This allows students to project themselves in to the future, even if for a short time."
Students like Michela Andrea Lo Schirico and Giovanni Sanna. Both are from Southern Italy, got their first-level degree and have over three hundred other classmates enrolled in the Engines for Aircraft master’s course. Enthusiastic about these lectures, they agree that hearing the viewpoint of people working in the industry is invaluable to the student.
"I hope that this type of interaction between academia and industry could take place from the very beginning of studies: young people should know the differences between study and real work"
"Now we have a better understanding of aeronautical propulsion systems. The academic path, also due to the time available, provides a great preparation on the object of study [the aircraft engine, ed.] but as an absolute value," says Giovanni. "The lectures by the engineers have given us a context for our preparation in real business cases, speaking an operating language and analyzing existing situations. To be viable, an engine must not only be built, it must be certified. It must meet the customer's requirements."
So many stimuli, but also a bit of healthy dose of performance anxiety. This is what emerges when talking to the students: "The emotion is twofold. On one hand these lectures have exposed us to a bit of fear, because we realize how much knowledge is needed for the working world, so it is inevitable to fear not to make the grade," says Michela Andrea. "Yet, at the same time our curiosity is piqued, motivating us: the construction of an engine is part of a great project of discovery and to which we can contribute as engineers. We discovered that our scope for action is wider than we think."
The organizers of this initiative are highly satisfied and are already working on a follow up. "These initiatives give us the opportunity to meet people who might join Avio Aero's team in the near future. Participating in this course, which deals with the issues of our daily lives and is specifically focused on our product, allows us to share our activities directly with professors and students, stimulating their interest," concludes Moletta.
"The lectures by the engineers have given us a context for our preparation. In real business cases, engines must not only be built: they must be certified and meet the customer's requirements"
The collaboration between university and company, in its most pragmatic and concrete forms, has an incredible influence on the vision of the future and the sense of generational uncertainty, whether it is engineering, aeronautics or any other subject. "My hope for the future is that this type of interaction between academia and industry could take place from the very beginning of studies," says Michela Andrea. "For young people, it is important to become familiar with what will come next and the natural differences between study and work."