ESRIN supports the Academic World
20 November 2007
It becomes more and more difficult for young students and scientists
to enter the working world.
In this process ESRIN plays an important role through its cooperation
with several Italian universities and in particular with Tor Vergata
University of Rome, by hosting students at its premises in order
to complete their academic education.
This is done following an agreement between ESA and Tor Vergata
University first time signed year 2000 and renewed for another 5
years. The aim is to foster and strengthen reciprocal experience
and knowledge in the field of space research.
image of the Tor Vergata Engineering buildings
any one time, up to 10 students from the nearby University can be
found carrying out research at ESRIN. So far the students, from
Tor Vergata’s Department of Computer Science, Systems and
Production (DISP), range from third-year students here for just
a few months while they complete their theses, to PhD graduates
who spend three years at ESRIN.
Since the agreement was signed, more than 20 students of telecommunications
engineering, electronics engineering or environmental engineering
have been hosted in the Earth Observation Programmes Directorate..
For the moment, most of the students are located in the GIS ‘hut’
behind Building F, where some of them have to share desks because
of the lack of space.
Despite the cramped working conditions, the students are very grateful
to be at ESRIN. “It is a fantastic opportunity because there
is always something going on and something new to learn, plus we
benefit from having access to ESRIN’s facilities and data
as well as the assistance of experts” says PhD student Marco
Lavalle, who is carrying out research into the retrieval of bio-physical
parameters from vegetated areas, using polarimetric interferometric
SAR. Francesco Sarti (Scientific Coordinator of the Education and
Training Activities in Earth Observation) is keen to stress that
the Tor Vergata/ESA agreement helps ESRIN as well as the students.
“ESRIN benefits from the presence of young people with plenty
of ideas, good motivation and open minds. They work with the minimum
amount of supervision and the scientific support they provide in
EO is extremely useful.”
map of Tor Vergata Campus
To emphasise his point he relates how Riccardo Duca, a PhD student
researching the use of CHRIS Proba hyperspectral and multi-angular
images for land cover products generation, came in to work after
the Asian tsunami in December 2004 to identify changes in the shape
of India's remote Andaman Islands using ASAR data. “Thanks
to his work, we were able to make a dataset available to the scientific
community showing the changes the tsunami had made to the islands,”
All the students have at least one tutor at Tor Vergata and one
at ESRIN. Riccardo, for example, is supervised by Francesco Sarti
at ESRIN and Fabio Del Frate, Assistant Professor in the PhD GeoInformation
Programme of the DISP Department. Prof. Del Frate knows ESRIN well
as in 1998/99 he was here as an Internal Fellow, under the tutorship
of Luigi Fusco and Olivier Arino.
“From an educational point of view,” says Prof. Del
Frate, “the chance to interact with the technical, operative
and international environment at ESA is a unique opportunity that
the University is able to offer its students.” Furthermore,
this experience has proved to be very important to the preparation
of spin-off activities.
Cooperation between Tor Vergata and ESRIN is not limited to hosting
students carrying out research. ESRIN staff also support the creation
of courses at the university and provide visiting lecturers. On
the other hand, PhD students contribute a valuable technical support
to training activities in Earth Observation at ESRIN.
more information, please contact:
Francesco Sarti, Earth Observation Science Strategy, Coordination
and Planning Office, EOP-SA, Ext. 80409
Vergata GeoInformation PhD students and alumni at ESRIN, with ESA staff Luigi Fusco (right) and Francesco Sarti (left)