17 july 2017
Matteo De Pascale, a Polimi student in his second year of Laurea Magistrale in Civil Engineering, specialising in Transport Infrastructures, has just spent two unforgettable days at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Together with other students from across Europe, he had the opportunity to meet MEPs and discuss with them how to redefine EU policies on innovation, sustainable development and globalisation.
Strasbourg was the final stage of the European Youth Debate (EYD) 2017, an event organised by the European Generation association who, for three days in April, brought together university students passionate about the European Union to discuss and draw up concrete proposals for further developing the EU, in collaboration with the European Parliament Information Office in Milan.
Matteo, who has always been passionate about European issues, read about the opportunity to take part in the EYD on social media. Without a moment's hesitation, he sent off his CV and his reasons for applying and was selected to take part in the event.
There were 75 students from 18 different European countries. The morning of the first day was the opening ceremony when we were able to attend stimulating speeches by politicians, professors and journalists. In the afternoon, we were divided into four groups and we set to work, with each group working on a different issue. Given my background, I was assigned to the 'Sustainable development' group
Starting with an analysis of the current condition of the European Union in terms of politics and international economics, the students' objective was to draw up a document offering strategic advice and concrete solutions to what they believe are the most pressing problems regarding sustainable development; a sort of European road map for the next few decades.
It was a challenge, but really stimulating and constructive. The students in my group were from very different nationalities and backgrounds, most of them came from political science, law or economics. I came face to face with viewpoints that were very different to my own and, as an engineer, I was able to make a positive and valuable contribution
Matteo was valued not only for his engineering approach to problems though! Thanks to his communication skills, he was voted group representative and speaker and he presented the document at the final assembly of the event, as well as to the MEPs in Strasbourg on 4 and 5 July.
"The areas in which I made the greatest contribution were the more technical ones, relating to energy and transport. For energy, for example, we suggested creating 'hackathon' style competitions to find innovative solutions, particularly as regards storing electrical energy, or introducing and using indicators which assess the development of the electric energy distribution network in different countries, so as to be able to reward the countries achieving the greatest annual increase in the indicator. As for transport, we focused particularly on electrical mobility and proposed adopting a more synergistic approach with automotive companies to develop a larger and more widespread recharging network for electric vehicles. We also insisted strongly on modal shift to make the goods transportation system more intermodal, distributed across the various methods of transportation available".
Matteo's passion for Europe was ignited in 2016 when he took part in the Unitech programme and spent 6 months studying in Holland and 8 months working in Liechtenstein. He also trained for a number of weeks in Ireland, Sweden and the UK. What's more, in September, he will move to Strasbourg to work on his Masters dissertation.
In Strasbourg I was able to talk to MEPs about the professional opportunities available in the Parliament and the European Commission for engineers with my profile. I would like to work in a large international organisation which builds infrastructure, but to be able to contribute to the European Union project with my skills would be a real dream come true
And we're sure that he will!