The dissertation is often associated with the final stage of a course of study, but in reality it should be seen as the beginning of a new adventure. If it is then carried out in a company, it becomes a ‘win-win’ experience for both the student and the company: the student has the chance to put themself to the test and see the notions they have studied in books up to that point applied in the field; for the company, it is an opportunity to discover new talents, bearers of fresh and innovative ideas.
The thesis conducted in the company is a period of training, developing new ideas and solving business challenges. It is a project that takes the form of in-depth scientific work on a topic of interest within a company.
Fantini Cosmi has always believed in collaboration with the university world and periodically hosts trainees with their thesis projects. In the company they are supervised by Roberto La Capruccia, head of Research and Development at Fantini Cosmi. Among the most recent thesis candidates, Danish Iqbal graduated in July with a degree in automation and control engineering from the Polytechnic University of Milan, with a thesis entitled ‘A temperature control algorithm for maximum comfort and minimum cost’, the result of an internship in which the candidate was assisted in the modelling and realisation of temperature control algorithms for zone room regulation by means of a thermostatic valve, in order to reconcile energy-saving aspects with those of thermoregulation and heat accounting of individual zones in housing units.
“In Fantini, explains Roberto la Capruccia – I brought my experience as co-rapporteur of theses in Electronic Engineering for master’s degree courses and as supervisor of doctoral theses in Mechatronics. It seemed natural to me to continue this path at Fantini Cosmi and the company gave me free rein.”
But what is the added value that the company can give to the trainee and vice versa, and how important is it for a company to be able to assess young talent engaged in the field in an era when the ‘skill-shortage’ is being felt, especially in the technology sector?
“My goal is to introduce young people to the real world of work and receive their fresh, guesswork-free ideas in return” explains Roberto. “At Fantini Cosmi, an intern or trainee can really learn how a device is developed, because they can follow the whole process: from the idea, to development, to production, to marketing. In the company there is all the know-how, from design to mechanics to software programming. It is therefore an all-round experience, both technically and personally. What is crucial, however, is to define a precise boundary. The internship starts with the publication of an advertisement that contains information about the proposed activity and its objectives: the skills that will be acquired are also stated. Once the outline of their activity is established, everything is clearer for the students. A trainee, especially when taking their first steps in the field, must have their own perimeter, their own comfort zone within which they can move freely, knowing what inputs and outputs are expected. They will then be able to range beyond their area of competence and take all the stimuli that an environment like Fantini Cosmi can provide. I would like to emphasise that in our team I am the tutor, but ours is a team mentoring: each of us in the company is there to give answers to the trainee. What must be avoided, in fact, is to make them feel abandoned. Moreover, the more people collaborate, the more sustainable, focused and reconcilable the mentoring task becomes. In addition, one must not demotivate or make one feel too much pressure: the trainee must work without anxiety about the result, although he or she must be clear about deadlines because, in the world of work, meeting deadlines is important. What distinguishes an experience at Fantini Cosmi is the opportunity to use the same tools that our developers use: we give the trainee tasks that are important to us, so we have to provide them with the tools to express themselves at their best. This means that once the project is completed, the boy or girl will have gained specific skills that can rightfully enter their curriculum.
For Danish Iqbal, a brilliant 27-year-old of Indian origin, who chose the Polytechnic University of Milan to build his future, it was an exciting experience.
“I chose to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world and to conduct my thesis project at an equally prestigious Italian company, Fantini Cosmi, which brings technology and innovation to the world. When I started working at Fantini, I had a basic knowledge of the project. I studied a lot and analysed research, data sheets, articles. Working on the development of a temperature control algorithm was not easy, but after a few months, together with the team, we developed an algorithm based on the movement of the radiator valve that considers maximum comfort and minimum energy consumption, which was then successfully implemented in the hardware. I had the opportunity to meet with many experienced professionals, to deepen the knowledge I already had of MATLAB and SIMULINK, and I gained a good knowledge of the STM 32 IDE microcontroller. I highly recommend this experience because it can help you develop your personality, you learn teamwork, punctuality and adherence to deadlines. Working at Fantini Cosmi was like working in a family as I had the utmost in terms of support and supervision. And I can say that I have never met a person like Roberto La Capruccia: the way he supported, motivated and guided me during the job was unique”.
Danish’s collaboration with Fantini Cosmi does not end here, but will continue for a few more months: his professor liked his thesis so much that he suggested he produce a scientific article!
Danish Iqbal, graduated in July 2022 in automation and control engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, with a thesis entitled "A temperature control algorithm for maximum comfort and minimum cost",
From left: Danish Iqbal - graduated from the Milan Polytechnic, Roberto La Capruccia - R&D Fantini Cosmi S.p.a.