ggreat results, great projects but also much attention to the enhancement of diversity and fragility. To the Politecnico di Milano «like to win, but it is precisely sport that teaches not to fear rankings and to seek a balance between competition and diversity»: this is how Ferruccio Resta, in his last – and moved – speech as rector, wanted to greet a very full audience and inaugurate the 160th academic year. There were the mayor of Milan Beppe Sala, the president of the Lombardy Region Attilio Fontana, the minister of University and Research Anna Maria Bernini, the CEO of Ferrari, Benedetto Vigna who gave the lectio magistralis, but there was above all the large Poli family in its entirety.

    Ferruccio Resta, outgoing rector of the Milan Polytechnic, at the inauguration of the academic year.
    Inauguration of the 160th Academic Year at the Politecnico di Milano
    photo by Matteo Bergamini, © Lab Immagine Design POLIMI (design, production and management of communication products) Department of DESIGN, Politecnico di Milano – 02-2399.7805/06 – [email protected]

    When he began his mandate, in 2017, “we seemed to be in balance”, the rector began. No one could have imagined what would happen next: the pandemic, a “too slow” recovery, the floods, the collapse of the glaciers, the war. That balance was probably still very unstable, and we hadn’t noticed it. Today the task of the university is to “go beyond the limits of knowledge, focusing on the high quality of research, on the well-being of society”. Looking for a new and more mature balance between future and tradition, freedom and respect». May it be solid this time, however, and lasting.

    Poli has gone ahead in these six years, and Resta can rightly boast of the results achieved: stability in the top positions of international rankings, an increase in projects won in Europe, 7 new master’s degrees, more doctorates, more internationalisation. Some critical issues remain, for example in the equal opportunities sector, where despite the great work of the POP project, the percentages of male and female students are struggling to change, and still today only 18 percent of girls follow STEM courses (let’s hope that the arrival of the new director Donatella Sciuto will lead to a change of pace).

    Politecnico di Milano: the future is in the new Bovisa campus

    There’s the bulk hub of university residences, where the 2,000 seats available are “a drop in the ocean” in a city like Milan where rents are unsustainable. And the failure to launch the campus of Italian universities in Africa, for which “a systemic approach is needed”.

    Many projects completed: Meta, Humanities and Social Studies unit on Science and Technology; L’Off Campus at San SiroNolo and recently also at the San Vittore prison; the laboratories launched with companies such as POLIFab, a microtechnology center with ST Microelectronics, or robotics with Camuzzi, and the recent Smart Eyewear Lab with Exxilor Luxottica. Frontier research is increasingly engaged in various sectors, from space to medical biotechnology, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence and quantum technologies.

    As for the role of the university system, Resta maintains that between the two choices – to let the excellences run or to reduce the gap – the solution «is to value the diversity in order not to flatten the system».

    Resta leaves the most important challenge to the new rector Donatella Sciuto: build the new campus in Bovisa, designed by the alumnus Renzo Piano. An enterprise that will change the face of a part of the city, an important, green, open, usable space, with an area dedicated to start-ups. For students, for everyone.