Success story
Interview with Tiziano Pagano, former student of the Master of Science in Engineering at the Master Research Unit of Precision Systems & Telecom (PST), currently employed at Argonet SA, a leading company active in Telematics and Network Security in Ticino.

Please give us some details about your MSE study at SUPSI
I have attended the MSE course as a full time program (1.5 years) and obtained my Master Degree in 2015. My advisor was Prof. R. Bucher and I pursued a specialization in control systems, mechatronics and physics.

What were the research topics of your semester projects and of your Master thesis?
Semester projects (1+2): I was given the opportunity to continue working on my Bachelor thesis project, refining a control system for synchronous motors with simulations and the subsequent implementation on a microcontroller.

Thesis project: the project titled "Development and characterization of a miniature piezo transducer for mechanical testing", and carried out in collaboration with a Swiss company was aimed at the design of an amplifier and conditioning circuit for high precision piezo-electric position sensors.

Why did you choose to obtain your Master degree at the MRU "Precision Systems & Telecom" (PST)?
The choice was driven by my personal interest in the subject of control theory and its mathematical background.  PST ideally covers these fields.

How do you estimate the future for the PST research areas?
The field of automated systems is in continuous evolution and has a great future. Just think for example at the self-driving cars.

Can you mention a course that you found particularly significant and useful?
Besides the scientific deepening courses, which I found very interesting (e.g.: Industrial Controls), I would also like to mention some business and administration related minor subjects, such as Project Management. In my profession they have been of great help.

In your choice on where to attend your Master program, why did you favor SUPSI against other Universities?
The geographic vicinity to my home town was  certainly a great advantage, but most importantly, having obtained the Bachelor degree at SUPSI I already knew many of its professors and their great experience and competence. Therefore I opted for continuity in this regard.
The fact that SUPSI offers master courses in Zurich nevertheless allowed me to gather experience away from home and meet fellow students from all the rest of Switzerland.

So how was your experience with the courses attended in Zurich, in another language?
It was an interesting experience, that I would recommend to everyone. The courses in Zurich are taught in English and the local language is German. My scholarly skills in English were sufficient to follow and understand the courses. Regarding the German language, I was sort of advantaged because I grew up in the German speaking part of Switzerland.

How would you judge the teaching quality and the research infrastructure at SUPSI?
I didn't miss anything for my work. The tools, software and equipment were excellent and I was granted full access to whatever I needed.
As for the teaching quality, as a student I perhaps underestimated the importance and had a lack of interest in some of the topics. In my first job however I learned to appreciate also what I learned in the less exciting courses.

And what about the working climate at SUPSI?
SUPSI is a relatively small University. Therefore everyone knows everybody. The working environment is good. Personally, before joining SUPSI I had the opportunity to study at other larger Academies, where personal contacts are less frequent and there is a perception of greater competition. So I appreciated the familiar atmosphere at SUPSI even more.
This applies in particular also to the relation with the professors and the staff.
I also made a lot of friends during my permanence at SUPSI and keep regular contacts with them.

How do you rate the experience gathered on research projects (semester and thesis), which at SUPSI frequently involve the participation of industrial partners?
During my research projects at SUPSI, I was given responsibility and autonomy. I was expected to meet deadlines. Sometimes this felt hard and challenging, but I could always count on the support of the professors and it helped me a lot in my actual job. The collaboration with an external company during the project offered me some insight into the needs of the real industry (time planning, costs, quality). It made the whole experience more accomplished. This is the great advantage of SUPSI: students who graduate from here are generally very well prepared for the entry into the professional world.
What I also enjoyed was the possibility to exchange experiences and opinions with colleagues (researchers, students) working on similar projects.

To what extend what you learned during your MSE program was helpful during your transition into the profession and how much of it do you use regularly?
The Master Degree title certainly helped me in my search for a job. I contacted several companies and all responded with interest to my candidacy. Put in other words, I had the privilege to choose among different companies and find a job in Ticino. In my current job, I benefit from the technical knowledge and from the project management skills that I acquired at SUPSI.

Would you like to give an advice to the Bachelor students who are considering the idea of continuing with a Master program?
I would recommend them not to underestimate those courses that at a first impression might appear boring or useless. Students should follow them with equal commitment. Personally, I learned to appreciate some of the courses only at a later time, in my job. This holds true also for the language courses. For example, in my company the official language is German, despite the fact that we are located in Ticino.

Argonet SA is active in the field of Telematics and Network Security. The company is a system integrator, offering services from the network planning to the implementation and maintenance. Key customers are banks, government agencies and private companies.