Hello there! Or: Ciao ragazzi! My name is Lodewijk, 25 years old, and I’m doing an academic internship at Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy. How did I get here? Well, when I graduated from Mechanical Engineering (Bachelor of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam), I wanted something more in the direction of energy, environment and sustainability. While looking for possible master’s studies, I came across Biosystems Engineering at Wageningen University & Research. Here, I now follow the Farm Technology track of the Biosystems Engineering master’s degree.
Biosystems Engineering gave me the possibility to connect the subjects that fascinate me, and where I hope to contribute: energy, the environment and agriculture. For this reason, I followed courses in the disciplines offered within the master’s degree: Greenhouse Technology, Renewable Energy, several Biosystems Engineering courses and Machine Learning.
Through these courses I learned about the potential of precision farming on reducing energy input, producing sustainable crops and reducing environmental impact. This focused my interests on the Machine Learning field within agriculture, which my academic internship is all about.
Since I lacked experience in programming, was eager to learn more about Artificial Intelligence and wanted to do part of my studies abroad, I looked for academic institutions that matched this combination. While Politecnico di Milano has no agricultural department, they recently started several projects on the topic of agricultural robotics and crop-weed detection. Their expertise lies in artificial intelligence, which is put to practice in robotics and automation.
My contribution is to adapt existing algorithms to handle multiple classes and evaluate which methods of classification perform best. The results of this internship can be used to base further research on, which I hope to do during my MSc Thesis. The experience I gained so far is valuable to me and I can recommend doing your internship abroad to get to know different working methods, perspectives, lifestyles (pizza and coffee truly are different in Italy, trust me) and of course: people!
The support I get from my supervisor at Politecnico and the various PhD and MSc students here make the experience even greater. A thing to keep in mind: make sure you acquire adequate housing as the options, in Milan at least, are limited.