• MIT President Susan Hockfield shakes hands with Dr. Gianfelice Rocca after the two signed an agreement launching the Roberto Rocca Project, which will support collaboration between MIT and Milan Politecnico.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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MIT builds bridge to Milan

MIT has entered into a partnership with Milan Politecnico, Italy's top engineering school, to foster collaboration between the two schools in the fields of materials science, bioengineering and mechanical engineering.

MIT President Susan Hockfield signed an agreement with Dr. Gianfelice Rocca, chairman of Techint Group, on April 14 establishing the Roberto Rocca Project. The project honors Rocca's father, the late Dr. Roberto Rocca, who was an alumnus of both the Politecnico and MIT. Another official signing took place at the Milan Politecnico on April 19.

According to Dr. Serenella Sferza, co-director of the MIT-Italy Program, the project will provide $250,000 a year for a renewable five-year period. Funding will be available for Politecnico postdocs and visiting students at MIT, but also for research internships for MIT students at the Politecnico and for startup collaborations between MIT and Politecnico faculty. In the coming weeks, the project will solicit MIT faculty to submit proposals for seed funding.

As summarized by Francesco Stellacci, MIT assistant professor of materials science and recent Politecnico alumnus, "This project is an important step in establishing good relationships between MIT and Milan's Politecnico. It is reasonable to believe this will be the start of many collaborations between these two universities. This is a remarkable investment for Italy mostly considering that it comes from the private sector, usually disengaged from research. It is a clear sign of change, and it shows the vision of Dr. Rocca."

The project is also major step in the consolidation of the MIT -Italy Program, which operates under the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) umbrella to promote international education at MIT. "We intend to make the Rocca Project into a very visible 'success story' others in Italy will want to replicate," Sferza said.

The project will be administered by the MIT-Italy Program in conjunction with the Project Advisory Board. For more information, visit web.mit.edu/mit-italy/partnerships/rocca.html.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 27, 2005 (download PDF).

Topics: Bioengineering and biotechnology, Materials science, Mechanical engineering, Global


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