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Innovative didactics and transversal skills: great success for “Passion in Action” courses

From Lego Factory to vehicle aerodynamics, from augmented reality to meta-structures, from bio-inspired robotics to fluid mechanics: these are some of the courses offered by Politecnico di Milano as part of the initiative Action Courses 2, better known as Passion in Action, offering non-compulsory educational activities for the development of transversal skills.

The 2019-2020 proposals designed by the Mechanical Engineering Study Programme had an excellent response from students, who were involved in six courses:

Prof. Andrea Matta coordinated Lego Factory, addressing the design and management of production systems using the principles of learning-by-playing: students built a miniature production and assembly line with Lego EV3 Mindstorms smart modules.

Vehicle Aerodynamics, by Dr. Paolo Schito, enabled the students to create a vehicle model with different aerodynamic solutions via 3D printing; they were able to test the performance in 1:10 scale in a wind tunnel, from design to implementation, from running tests to analyzing and presenting the results.

Prof. Mario Covarrubias delivered two courses: the first course on the Development of augmented reality and virtual reality applications for the construction and architecture sectors, with the aim to provide students with the background for the development of an IOS and Android application of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The second course, Design for prototyping with a 4-axis numerical control device, allowed the use of a 4-axis machining center (Charly4U) and provided a theoretical introduction concerning the design for the realization of prototypes with CAD-CAM systems. Participants were able to model and mill some components by applying different removal material strategies.

The course of Dr. Gabriele Cazzulani focused on issues related to Meta-structures and meta-surfaces for the study of structures and surfaces having mechanical properties not found in nature. The students carried out a project related to a case study concerning the control of propagation and attenuation of waves in certain frequency ranges.

Prof. Simone Cinquemani introduced the basic concepts of bio-inspired robotics and bio-mimicry, analyzing the kinematics and dynamics of movement (locomotion, flight, swimming ...), handling, the ability to generate a force and to perceive the world surrounding. During the course the students created a robot inspired by a jellyfish, capable of moving around a room.

Prof. Gianandrea Messa proposed in Piacenza campus a Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics: the Green Valve case study, in which the students were able to develop problem-solving skills in the field of industrial fluid mechanics. Three investigation approaches were used: experimental testing, concentrated-parameter modeling, and computational fluid dynamics.