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A virtual trip to the stars for the INSPIRED project

23 June 2020

The INSPIRED project (International Project Week for Interdisciplinary Research-Oriented Digital Learning) – as part of the UNITE! European University Alliance, which includes the Politecnico di Torino – will gather students from Portugal, Italy and Germany in a three-week summer school of interdisciplinary research and learning activities. Two students from the Politecnico will take part to the project.

The programme consists of two phases: a virtual e-Learning phase and the so-called “Do phase” – a three-week summer school organized by the Technische Universität of Darmstadt, Germany. The e-learning course enables the participants – who come from different specialist backgrounds – to prepare independently for the task that awaits them in the second phase of the project. During the summer school, the main aim is to investigate an unusual and challenging bioengineering issue: to design a sustainable and efficient bioreactor that can generate nutrients and therapeutics under the extreme conditions found in space.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the planned face-to-face summer school has been completely replaced by a digital format. From June 22 to July 10, participants will work in virtual teams to design a sustainable and efficient bioreactor that can generate the special nutrients and therapeutics required by inhabitants of future colonies in space: this will call for creativity, inventiveness and cooperation, even working from home. Students will have the possibility to interact in a lively digital environment, aimed at crossing national boundaries and expanding their educational and career perspectives.

INSPIRED is a UNITE! Initiative. The University Alliance, coordinated by TU Darmstardt, includes Aalto University (Finland), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Grenoble Institute of Technology (France), Politecnico Di Torino (Italy), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain) and Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal). The UNITE! main objective is to create a trans-European campus for students, researchers and all other relevant status groups, with the involvement of regions and companies. The project relies on innovative pedagogic concepts and e-learning methods, calling for a greater interdisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation.

“Nobody imagined six months ago that we would have to hold a summer school study project in virtual form. All of those involved deserve a lot of praise for enabling us to hold the event in this creative way. In particular, the fact that we are able to offer the students a fantastic teaching and learning programme in an international context during a period characterised by immobility is truly outstanding”, says Biology Professor Heribert Warzecha, one of the founders of INSPIRED and TU.

Photo: NASA