Italy’s first Digital High School opens today: cultivating the science and humanities skills of the future

30 September 2022

This initiative, originating from a proposal by Leonardo Foundation, will be brought to fruition in synergy with Leonardo, the Italian Ministry of Education and Istituto Matteucci in Rome. Artificial intelligence and robotics are among just some of the subjects on the new curriculum.

The “Liceo Digitale” (Digital High School) is the first specialised, scientific secondary school programme in Italy to combine a traditional curriculum with digital studies. Launched today in Rome, thirty students at Istituto Tecnico Carlo Matteucci will be attending the first class in this five-year programme, an experiment which Education Minister Patrizio Bianchi, who took part at the event via video, believes will “allow the young people who attend the programme not only to gain more specific skills, but also to pose innovation at the centre of a profound rethink of the very idea of culture”. 

School Principal, Maria Gemelli, conducted a detailed presentation of the school and its curriculum before passing the word to the guests at the inauguration: Luciano Violante, President of Leonardo Foundation –Civiltà delle Macchine, and representatives of Leonardo’s senior management, Chairman Luciano Carta and CEO Alessandro Profumo. A large number of students also attended the event. 

Luciano Violante, who came up with the idea behind the initiative, emphasised the work that the foundation has carried out over the past few years and its commitment to education “to close the country’s gap in digital skills, as we currently need at least a million more experts in this field”

The students attending the new programme will study various topics, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, together with mathematics, computer science, physics and other relevant disciplines in the field. Commencing from the first year, the programme will be enriched with the study of philosophy and humanities to help the students develop a more sophisticated and complete approach.

In 2021 Leonardo launched 776 training pathways including internships, apprenticeship programmes, traineeships and school-work alternation initiatives” explained Luciano Carta, who also acknowledged the over 1,400 hours of teaching at four Italian technical high schools by many Leonardo’s employees. “Here at Istituto Matteucci, we are proud to see the launch today of our first digital high school.  We will do our utmost to ensure that this project also inspires many other Italian schools and colleges”, Leonardo Chairman concluded. 

In the first two years of the programme, experts from Leonardo will work closely with professors, providing instruction on artificial intelligence, covering both the technical issues and humanities-related aspects. During the third year of their studies, students will be asked to work on specific AI projects with the support of a Leonardo tutor, while at the same time benefiting from an internship at the company. 

“To support the digital transition and develop the technologies of the future,” commented Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo, ”we need to invest in skills and enhanced educational training. This is a task to which Leonardo has always contributed by spreading a culture of innovation. Attracting young people to the so-called STEAM disciplines, namely Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, constitutes a valuable investment in increasing the competitiveness of the nation’s industrial system” concluded Profumo.