Deadline for call: March 15, 2021 - 12 p.m. (Italian time)

Programme at the glance

The Honours Programme (HP) in Advanced Methods in Engineering (AME-HP) is a career-driven post-graduate programme training outstanding students to the forefront topics of engineering, including advanced computational methods, uncertainty quantification, risk mitigation, innovative materials, and smart infrastructure.

It is developed for top students in engineering who wish to pursue an academic in a PhD School; or address a job career in engineering consulting firms and institutions, R&D departments of international companies, research agencies, engineering service providers.

The programme lasts 7 months (April to October each year) and includes18 ECTS encompassing fundamental courses, specialty courses, hard skill development and an industrial or academic placement.


Prof. Marco Broccardo

Board of lecturers:

Prof. P. Baggio, Prof. D. Bigoni, Prof. M. Broccardo Prof. O. S. Bursi, Prof. F. Dal Corso, Prof. L. Deseri, Prof. A. Gajo, Prof. M. Guerrieri, Prof. D. Misseroni, Prof. N. Pugno, Prof. N. Tondini, Prof. D. Zonta

Programme topics

Historically, civil engineers design, maintain and ensure the safety of structures and infrastructure systems, which represent the backbones of our societies. Nowadays, this social contract still lies at the heart of our profession, research, and education. However, it is also evident that new challenges have changed the practice in several ways during the last decades and have broadened its scope.

The rise of megacities and the development of smart infrastructural systems, the reliability and resilience of aging infrastructural systems, and the increase of extreme events are just some of the problems that civil engineers are facing. These challenges are also crucial opportunities to develop new cutting-edge research at the boundary between different disciplines. In fact, both research and education are witnessing a constant blurring of the separation between civil engineering and other engineering and science disciplines.

The Honours Programme Advanced Methods in Engineering (AME-HP) is a short postgraduate academic path that aims to attract and select a small number of outstanding students, provide them with high-level education, and direct their career towards a Ph.D. (all courses will be officially recognized as credits for the DICAM PhD program) or a research-oriented industry. The AME-HP goal is twofold: first, to give a taste for the new problems facing our discipline; second, to be an active actor in solving these challenges.

COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all courses of the Honours Programme will be also offered online. Courses will be offered either under the form of blended teaching, with some students present and others online, or as pure online courses.

University of Trento and DICAM

UniTN is a Research-Intensive University located in the Autonomous Province of Trento in northeastern Italy.  Located in the Dolomites' heart, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trento is ranked among the best Italian and European cities for quality of life. UniTN is constantly ranked among the best Italian and European Research Universities, given its ability to attract competitive European funding, particularly ERC grants of excellence. Part of the core expertise and assets of DICAM are theoretical and computational mechanics and geomechanics, uncertainty quantification, fire engineering, and seismic engineering. These competencies are the pillars of the honours programme in Advanced Methods in Engineering.

Numerus clausus and selection procedure

The number of available positions is limited. This number is set by the Board of Lecturers yearly and is expected to range from 2 to 6. The call for applications is published every year in July. The AME-HP is open to graduates and students enrolled in the second year of study in a Master degree in Civil engineering (LM-23), Environmental Engineering (LM-35), Architectural Engineering (L-M4), Environmental meteorology (LM-75), Energy engineering (LM-30), Computer Engineering (LM-32), Mechanical Engineering (LM-33), Chemical Engineering (LM-22), Physical-mathematical modeling for engineering (LM-44), Mathematics (LM-40), and Physics (LM-17). Moreover, it is open to master students in one of the areas listed above at other Italian universities and foreign universities.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020/21 call is fixed for March 15, 2021 - 12 p.m. (Italian Time).

Why is this honors program special?

The AME-HP attracts and recruits outstanding students and provide them with advanced education to improve career development and personal background. Learning topics include methodologies for advanced computational methods, uncertainty quantification, risk mitigation, innovative materials, and smart infrastructure. The program enhances the student's talent by providing a well-defined personal development curriculum.  This is intended to help the student toward their professional placement, both industrial and academic. The program is tuition-free.

Learning activities

The Honours Programme recognizes the diversity of background and career ambition of the students. Therefore, the curriculum will be personalized over the individual in view of their personal background and career perspective. At the start of the programme, the student is assigned with an academic Tutor, who mentor the student to define specific learning objective and advise them on the preparation of a personalized curriculum. Student and tutor build a personalized curriculum picking from the following learning activities:

  Credits Activity Assessment
A Up to 12 Background courses Course assessment
B Up to 12 Specialty courses Course assessment
C Up to 3 Hard skill development Tutor approval
D Up to 12 Industrial, research or academic placement Certificate
E Up to 3 Seminars Attendance
F 1 Final workshop Board of Lectures approval

A- The Background courses are a subset of the course catalog of the concurrent DICAM Modelling and Simulation Honours Program (ModSim HP).  The goal of these courses is twofold: first, to cover in detail the fundamentals of physics and mathematical methods for advanced engineering applications; second, to allow the selection of specific topics of interest from the DICAM ModSim HP. The selection of background courses are reported bellow.

  Tilte Lecturers Credits
A02 Advanced numerical methods for hyperbolic conservation laws and geophysical flows M. Dumbser & V. Casulli 6
A03 Advanced computational solid mechanics A. Piccolroaz 6
A04 Modeling and simulation of turbulence Visiting Professor 6
A05 Molecular Dynamics: a primer with elements of statistical mechanics P. Scardi 6
A06 Introductory nonlinear mechanics of soft biological tissues L. Deseri 6
A07a Modeling hydrological systems with Geoframe A. Bellin, A. Marzadri 6
A07b Modeling flow and transport in porous media A. Bellin, A. Marzadri 6
A08 Modeling and simulation of integrated river eco-morphodynamics W. Bertoldi, A. Siviglia, M. Toffolon, G. Zolezzi 6
A09 Numerical modeling of weather and climate S. Bordoni, L. Giovannini, D. Zardi 6
A10 Remote sensing and advanced geomatics for environmental applications A. Vitti, G. Benciolini 6

B- Specialty courses are advanced engineering courses offered at the DICAM Ph.D. School, which define and characterize the student's curriculum. The covered topics include (but are not limited to) methodologies for advanced computational methods, uncertainty quantification, risk mitigation, innovative materials, and smart infrastructure. The list of courses is updated every year before the official call for applications. In addition to this list the student can choose from the learning activities of the DICAM Ph.D. programme.

  Course Responsible Credits
B01 Introduction to Uncertainty Quantification and Machine Learning (UQ&ML) for Engineering Science M. Broccardo 3
B02 Nonlinear thermomechanical problems in structural fire analysis N. Tondini 3
B03 Extreme Mechanics of Solids and Structures L. Deseri, D. Bigoni, F. Dal Corso 6
B04 Mechanics of Metastructures and Metamaterials N. Pugno, D. Misseroni 6
B05 Risk estimates of process plants and design of linear and nonlinear lattice materials-based shields for enhanced performance O.S. Bursi 3
B06 Systems and strategies for healthy, resilient and sustainable buildings Baggio, A. Prada 2
B07 Traffic Simulation M. Guerrieri 3
B08 Advanced Thermodynamics C. Della Volpe 2
B09 Special topics in structural design - (Offers changes yearly based on professors visiting DICAM) Visiting Professor 3
B10 Special topics in structural design - (Offers changes yearly based on professors visiting DICAM) Visiting Professor 3
B11 Engagement in Scientific Research  Tutor 6

C- Hard skills development: develop the ability to the use of special software or instruments, as required by the development of the student’s learning objectives.

D- Placement: a 2-month post-graduate curricular stage in industry (such as: A22, RFI, ASPI) or laboratory facility (e.g.: ISPRA, UniTN).

E- Seminars: Reorganization of the existing research seminars given by visiting professors at DICAM, or offered through the DICAM Ph.D. school

.F- Final workshop: at the end of the programme, the student presents their achievements in an open workshop attended by the Board of Lectures, who formally assess the student has accomplished their learning objective.

Sample curricula

At the beginning of the programme, a personalized curriculum is prepared by the student with the aid of their Tutor in view of their career objective, either industrial or academic. The following picture illustrates examples of possible curricula, addressing the preparation to a doctoral career in engineering, either methodological or experimental, or targeting an industrial placement.

Courses syllabi – Specialty Courses

B01- Introduction to Uncertainty Quantification and Machine Learning (UQ&ML) for Engineering Science
(M. Broccardo)

In recent decades, the rapid increase in computing power and data acquisition is not only impacting research in several disciplines but is also radically changing the tools and scope of engineering science.  In the context of civil engineering, this class aims to take a deep dive into this transformation by uncovering two important disciplines: Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) and Machine Learning (ML). In particular, UQ aims to analyze and manage the impact of uncertainties in physical and engineering systems. In this class, ML refers to learning from data, and update uncertainties related to a statistics-based model, or to a physics-based model. The first part of the course introduces basic ideas and formalism of UQ, such as probabilistic modeling of uncertainties and data, UQ forward analysis by mean of Monte-Carlo based simulations (standard and advanced techniques), and Gaussian process metamodeling of expensive computational models. The second part of the class focuses on Bayesian statistical learning, Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms (including Hamiltonian Monte Carlo), and variational inference. The final object of the course is twofold: to provide the right formalism so that a student can read the current literature in these two research areas, and to clearly show the applications and the vast potential of these methods in the field of engineering.

B02- Nonlinear thermomechanical problems in structural fire analysis
(N. Tondini)

The course on nonlinear thermomechanical problems in structural fire design aims at describing the behaviour of steel and concrete structures at elevated temperature. In particular, thermal analysis notions will be given through finite element formulation. At the material level, the nonlinear modelling of steel and concrete at high temperature and how their constitutive laws are integrated in a finite element framework will be described. Moreover, at the element level, large displacement analysis, which is paramount to capture the behaviour of structural systems under fire, will be discussed. More details will be given for the corotational formulation, which decomposes the motion of an element into a rigid body part and a pure deformational part and allows for different nonlinear material descriptions in the local formulation. Several practical examples will be shown to highlight the application of the aforementioned concepts, whilst practical hands-on sessions with laboratory exercises are foreseen to implement parts of the tools provided in the course.

A03- Advanced computational solid mechanics
(A.Piccolroaz, currently offered at LM civile)

This course introduces advanced computational methods for linear and nonlinear solid mechanics. In particular, the behavior and stability of complex structures like plates and shells are analyzed in detail. The course also deals with the problems associated with thermo-elasticity and the optimization of structures. The course makes use of the variational formulation of Lagrangian mechanics.

B03- Extreme Mechanics of Solids and Structures"
(L. Deseri, D. Bigoni, F. Dal Corso)

Applications regarding events entailing large-to-extreme deformations and high-stress concentrations do require a strong background in the field of the nonlinear mechanics of solids and structures. Understanding and mastering the principles governing such nonlinearities is key for analyzing and designing systems under working conditions that cannot be captured through standard methodologies. In this course, the basics of nonlinear solid and structural mechanics will be provided. Special focus will be on cases of extreme deformations at the macroscopic and sub-macroscopic length scale. The stress-strain behavior of deformable isotropic and multiscale (hierarchical) solids will be studied at large strains. Elastic and inelastic behavior, such as geometric nonlinearities, swelling, plasticity, growth, fracture, impacts, etc. will be addressed in the course. Extreme events in solids and structures and related stresses will be a specific focus of this module, including small-on-large mechanical analysis of structural materials (artificial, bioinspired and biomaterials) for engineering applications.

The extreme deformation of an elastic beam compared with the formation of a drop

B04- Mechanics of Metastructures and Metamaterials
(N. Pugno, D. Misseroni)

Metamaterials are artificial materials invented to reach mechanical performances impossible with ordinary materials. Metastructures represent the new paradigm for vibration insulation and mechanical wave filtering and conditioning. Metamaterials are used for the design of so-called 'invisibility cloaks', devices implemented in several fields. In particular, a building invisible to an earthquake is unaffected by vibrations and therefore safe, so that invisibility, a concept born in electromagnetism, is an important research target for seismic engineering and vibration protection.  The course will address the development of tools, such as Floquet-Bloch analysis of periodic structures, and concepts used in the design of metamaterials for applications in civil and mechanical engineering.

B05-Risk estimates of process plants and design of linear and nonlinear lattice materials-based shields for enhanced performance
(Oreste S. Bursi)

The scope of the course is to provide basic knowledge of linear and nonlinear tools for risk analysis of process plants solved by means of the Finite Element Method. With regard to dynamic problems, the main properties of modal reduction and numerical integrators for the determination of the transient dynamic linear and non-linear response of monolithic structural components/systems is presented. Thus, ad hoc computational methods are presented for the evaluation of seismic hazard analysis, fragility functions along with a few applications to petrochemical and refrigerated liquified gas (RLG) storage plants. As regards problems involving metamaterials, the course gently introduces key concepts and some fundamental theory for elastodynamics of lattice materials, wave propagation in damped materials and some issues on nonlinear lattice materials. Finally, the use of finite optimized lattice resonant metamaterials for industrial structural components/systems subjected to stochastic (earthquake) loadings are presented together with concepts of random vibration. Hands-on sessions with computer laboratory exercises are provided.

B06- Systems and strategies for healthy, resilient and sustainable buildings
(P. Baggio, A. Prada)

The purpose of this short course is to deliver to the future civil engineer a basic knowledge about the role of advanced systems in buildings both to promote the energy transition toward a de-carbonized energy infrastructure and to protect occupants against health risks. The main focus will be about knowing the status of a building (i.e. metering energy use, measuring indoor air quality and comfort parameters), about applying multi-objective optimization techniques to achieve better performance and efficient interaction with the grid (optimizing HVAC systems, storage, predictive and rule based control strategies, demand management, energy communities etc.) and about keeping the indoor spaces healthy and safe (with, in particular, appropriate ventilation strategies capable to limit the diffusion of infectious diseases and improve the indoor air quality)

B07- Traffic simulation
(M. Guerrieri)

This course introduces advanced computational methods for traffic simulation. In particular, the macroscopic and microscopic traffic models are analyzed in detail. The course covers theoretical and technical aspects associated with the design criteria of road and highway infrastructures and the optimization of safety devices. The course makes use of well-known road design and traffic microsimulation software.

B08- Advanced Thermodynamics
(C. Della Volpe)

The course provide a broad overview on thermodynamics through a number of targeted tutorials. The Callen approach; Fundamental functions and their properties. Some correlation with the economy production functions. The Prigogine approach; the introduction of time. The stability of a thermodynamic system; the Gibbs approach and the Liapounov approach. The endoreversible approximation and its applications. The irreversibility, its possible origin: the gravity hypothesis (Smolin-Ben Jacob approach).  The linear regime and its stability; Onsager relations; Minimum entropy production. The non-linear regime; oscillating systems; Is there a general evolution criterion? The MEP criterion. Some practical applications of the irreversible thermodynamics: the Ludder bands, the thermocouple, multicomponent diffusion, electrokinetic phenomena, thermoelectric phenomena, some metallurgy techniques. he surface thermodynamics. From Leonardo to Prigogine models of a surface. The wettability: its equations and its applications. The experimental evaluation of the contact angle. The acid-base theory of the surface tension.

B09- Special topics in computational mechanics
(Visiting Professor)

A specialty course in computational mechanics on a topic changing yearly, offered by a travelling professor visiting the University of Trento. The particular topic is approved every year by the Board of Lecturers before the Programme starts.

B10- Special topics in structural design
(Visiting Professor)

A specialty course in structural design on a topic changing yearly, offered by a travelling professor visiting the University of Trento. The particular topic is approved every year by the Board of Lecturers before the Programme starts.

B11- Engagement in Scientific Research  

The student is engaged in the development of an original research topic and is trained to the scientific method and writing. The credit are awarded on submission of an original research paper.

This honors program is co-founded by the MIUR departments of excellence initiative 2018-2022