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Italian Exchange Students to Complete Their Graduate Program at NYIT Old Westbury
Laura Mora Dal Verme and Piergiorgio Scatigna are Graduate students from Italy who have been completing their Master’s degree with Dr. Ehsan Kamel at NYIT’s Old Westbury campus.
“After taking some of my courses, they joined my lab (the EnTech Lab). Their project, which is co-advised by their advisors at POLIMI and me, is focused on building energy efficiency and computer modeling. Their projects’ output is an automated life-cycle analysis (LCA) process for buildings. They also investigate improving building designs in terms of energy performance and durability under climate change impacts. Critical topics such as energy efficiency and climate change need global collaboration. This student exchange program created a great learning exchange opportunity between students and faculty members at POLIMI and NYIT,” says, Dr. Kamel.
As Laura and Piergiorgio conclude their program abroad here in the United States, they recapped their experience, offering some perspective and advice for the NYIT community!
What is your degree and research on? What is your undergraduate experience? Where did you earn your degree from, what was the degree in?
[L and P] We are studying building architecture and engineering. It is a five-year program that we are
attending at Polytechnic of Milan (Italy). We don’t have a degree yet: this program combines the years of
the master and of the bachelor. We finished our exams in the summer and are now focusing on our thesis.
One chapter of which will be about the building’s energy balance, and this is what we are analyzing here at
NYIT, supported by professor Kamel.
What made you choose NYIT for your exchange opportunity?
[L] I was interested in discovering how is university education in the USA. One of our Italian professors
had a connection with Dr. Ehsan Kamel and organized the exchange. I’m really grateful that I had the
opportunity to see both the campuses: Manhattan and Old Westbury. They are both great but they seem
like totally different realities.
[P] One thing that was missing in my academic career was the experience of an exchange period. NYIT
captured immediately my attention thanks to some features like:
Location: both O.W. and Manhattan campuses are located in beautiful contexts. O.W. is a campus
surrounded by greenery, impossible to think of in a context such as northern Italy; and Manhattan’s one is
located in the most famous place in the world.
- Diversity: as an exchange student, the diversity index played a key role in the University’s choice. Here I
have the opportunity to meet with many other cultures and people, which helps me to understand how
wide and various the world is.
How has it been working with Dr. Kamel?
[L] Great. He is very dedicated to his students and open-minded. His flexibility allowed us to work on
our thesis projects smoothly and to easily find the best days to meet in the Lab, without having to stretch
our schedules. When we reach out he is always quick and helpful in the answer. He also made us choose a
side project without imposing something out of our interests.
[P] Working with Dr. Kamel is an excellent academic experience. He is always available to explain all
the topics you need to understand, flexible with the schedule, and quick to reply to any questions. He has a
teaching method that makes you appreciate the study of the subject matter. Strongly recommend
following his courses.
Have your career goals shifted at all from your first year in school, your last year in undergrad to now?
[L] Fortunately, as my program combines bachelor and master, my goals have not changed. But I still
have a lot of different job opportunities from which to choose.
[P] A point of strength of our academic program is the scope of expertise. It allows you to make
considerations of your future and rebalance them based on personal growth. To answer the question, yes
my career goals have been shifted since my first year in school, but only because I understood well the role
of a building engineer in the labor market, and university helped me a lot in this process.
Culturally, is there a difference in how university programs are run in the U.S. v. Italy?
[L] Yes, the Italian approach is more theoretical. Plus, I think that having small classes and weekly
assignments (as in the U.S.) really helps the students to keep up with the courses programs.
[P] Yes, the methods are completely different, both methods have pros and cons. The Italian one is
more theoretically based than the U.S. one. I like a lot “weekly assignments” (not so much used in Italian
Universities) because they permit you a constant comprehension and allow you to keep the focus high on
the arguments treated.
Any advice for incoming international students to NYIT?
[L] Start preparing your exchange months ahead! The visa procedure and the housing search take a
long time. But then enjoy your stay and don’t be shy to ask for help from the administration, because they
are really kind and helpful.
[P] Be patient and prepared for a long bureaucratic procedure. The Visa obtaining requires weeks, so
you have to start thinking about it months before your departure. Fortunately, the NYIT staff helps you to
make this procedure easier.
In your opinion, what is the best aspect of the exchange program that you have enrolled in?
[L] Getting to know a completely new environment where there is such diversity as I have never seen.
[P] Experiencing a different context and living in a worldwide known city, totally different from my
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your experience here?
[L] At first, it delayed my exchange, so I had to follow a class remotely from Italy during the night - due
to the time change. Then the only problem has been being in quarantine for 10 days.
[P] It delayed the exchange period, forced us to attend class remotely from Italy.
In your opinion, what are some of the advantages or disadvantages of this exchange program?
[L] Thanks to this exchange I met new people, a new culture and got to know new job opportunities.
Unfortunately, I realized how hard it is to move around outside New York City without a car. Reaching the
campus in long Island by public transportation is expensive and time-consuming.
[P] The exchange program has pros and cons: new city means new people to meet, new experiences, a
new place to visit, new habits to understand, and a new language to speak; but also it means long time
periods and expensive travels to reach the campuses, especially the O.W. one.
What has your experience been like in engaging and networking with other NYIT students, faculty, and
[L] Wonderful, here in NY everybody is kind and open-minded. Probably having in-person classes
would have allowed me to meet even more students, but I am grateful for all the events that have been
organized to meet other people.
[P] NYC is the place that allows you to engage and network with anyone. This is a strong point of being
here. A lack in my experience was attending only virtual classes.
What are your learning experiences or takeaways from this experience so far?
[L] This experience is teaching me how to schedule my days and long term objectives, it is helping me
to improve my interpersonal relationships and it is making me more independent and aware of what
happens around me.
[P] I understood how is living alone, far from my parents and relatives, and how important are human
relations. Also, the ability to relate with other people in another language, different from my mother
Do you plan on pursuing other degree programs after or what are your aspirations after completing this
[L] As of now, I don’t think I will go on with my studies. I should graduate in April and then I would like
to find a job.
[P] I’m taking into account both of scenarios possible (working after my graduation and a PhD).
What are three keywords you would use to describe your experience at NYIT?
[L] Helpfulness, diversity, and kindness.
[P] Ethic, seriousness, and hope.
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