The opportunity arose when I returned to Milan. I worked on the idea with Christian, whom I had met during the challenge programme, and Rithesh and Pietro from summer school. After presenting our plan to IDEA League, we received the green light to organise a summer school with support from Politecnico di Milano, which organised the hotels, catering, advertising and IT for application processing. We were in charge of the budget, delivered the concept framework, engaged with professors from IDEA League universities, scheduled and coordinated their teaching activities and hired additional speakers. And that was before the event had even started!
As the week approached, there was a frantic rush to get things finalised. There were emails to answer and special requests from students and speakers to deal with. It took a lot of improvising with little sleep, but we did it. Some 40 students signed up and were raring to discover more.
One of the valuable contacts I ’d made at a challenge programme event introduced me to Lizete Druka, senior design manager with Volvo in Sweden. She agreed to speak at our event in Milan. The programme had given me both the opportunity and the confidence to ask her. Volvo provided seating from an old model built in the late 1990s as an example of how sustainable manufacturing has advanced and also to show where there is room for improvement.
The interactions between industry representatives and the students in Milan were a special highlight. Everyone was keen to gain new insights. Participants were fired up and motivated to critically think about material usage in product manufacturing.
What did the students take away from the summer school? Hopefully, a new entrepreneurial way of approaching the design process, involving knowing not just how something is built but also what happens to a product afterwards. Equally important, the summer school participants learned to connect and are now part of a network of talented people across Europe who they can trust and collaborate with in the future.
What did I get from my time with the IDEA League? Organising the summer school gave me the confidence to think big, and the IDEA League Challenge Programme was the catalyst. I now have what it takes to pursue an international career in engineering at managerial level. I learned to push myself and inspire others to make things happen. And I’m more resilient than I thought. Wherever my career takes me, I will always have a wonderful supportive network of contacts throughout Europe.