The Ph.D. programme in Computer and Control Engineering is offered by the Department of Control and Computer Engineering, and it is part of the third-level offer of the Doctoral School of the Politecnico di Torino. It is a training path that leads to the achievement of the title of Doctor of Research (or Philosophy Doctor, Ph.D., according to Anglo-Saxon terminology), the highest level of education which is an increasingly common requirement for senior roles in industry, research centers and other contexts of society, as well as being necessary to undertake an academic career.
The Ph.D. program deals with the cultural areas of Computer and Control Engineering, following the scientific research topics developed within the Department. In particular, the currently active research topics are:
- Computer architectures and Computer Aided Design
- Data science, Artificial Vision and AI
- Computer graphics and Multimedia
- Software engineering and Mobile computing
- Control and system engineering
- Life sciences
- Parallel and distributed systems, Quantum computing
Before each periodic call for applications, the Academic Board evaluates the research topics proposed by the professors, researchers and other stakeholders through an internal consultation procedure. The selected research topics are then published on the Ph.D. programme website, guiding the applicants during the selection process.
The research areas align with the professional profiles the Ph.D. programme intends to train, are consistent with the state of the art of similar programmes at national and international levels, are of great scientific and technological interest both for industry and public bodies, and significantly impact society in general. Indeed, they deal with essential issues behind technical development and digital transformation, as demonstrated by European research funding policies.
The course lasts three years, and the Ph.D. students are encouraged to organize and spend training and research activities abroad at recognized international entities. The research activities are conducted under the guidance of a supervisor and, eventually, other co-supervisors the Academic Board may assign.
During their path, the Ph.D. students follow a dedicated training plan (managed and updated through a mutual agreement between the students and their supervisors and verified by the Academic Board) fine-tuned to enhance their technical skills within the respective research areas of interest (hard skills) and their general know-how on transversal topics (soft skills).
According to the rules provided by the Doctoral School of Politecnico di Torino, the Ph.D. students must attend both courses covering hard skill topics for at least 100 hours and soft skill topics for at least 40 hours (preferably during the first two years). Concerning hard skill topics, the students will complete at least 60 hours from courses offered by the Ph.D. programme in Computer and Control Engineering and the remaining hours through courses offered by other programmes of the Doctoral School at Politecnico di Torino or even other institutions, doctoral schools, or online courses. Concerning soft skill topics instead, students may choose from the shared courses offered by the Doctoral School.
A significant portion of the Ph.D. student’s activities consists in the development of a research project focused on the topics addressed by the supervisor’s group. The achieved results and outcomes are disseminated by publishing scientific articles in prestigious venues and participating in public events, such as conferences, workshops, etc. The activities end with the editing of the doctoral thesis, which will be evaluated by and discussed with experts in the research field.
The Ph.D. programme in Computer and Computer Engineering is the result of a continuous consultation conducted by the member of the Academic Board and the external stakeholders, such as companies, research organizations, and alumi in Italy and abroad, and through systematic comparison and benchmarking against other national and international universities. These activities include annual revisions and regular updates of the internal organization of the course and its research topics following, since May 2023, the advice of a Consultation Committee composed of a heterogeneous pool of experts (further information on the course website).
The objective of the Ph.D. programme in Computer and Control Engineering is the training of researchers and professional figures capable of working in both academic and industrial environments in the broad field of Computer and Control Engineering. The goal is to develop learning and research skills, acquire the ability to innovate and manage research projects in the public and industrial segments, and foster private entrepreneurship actions that can create new high-tech companies.
The knowledge and skills are acquired through direct and proactive involvement in research activities and attending lectures and courses. The Ph.D. student and the supervisor agree upon the specific choice of the training and research activities and their planning over the three years. In this regard, the student is also asked to complete a Declaration of Intent (DoI) by which the student-supervisor cooperation is defined, shared, and agreed upon. The student will be included in internationally recognized research groups, thus having the opportunity to collaborate with professors and researchers from other universities, research centers, and public or private organizations in Italy or abroad. The research activities are conducted under the guidance of the supervisor and, eventually, the co-supervisors, and progress is verified by the Academic Board.
Expected Learning Outcomes
- Knowledge and understanding skills
The Ph.D. student must show an advanced knowledge of the state of the art in the research domain. This can be achieved by attending hard skill courses and carrying out individual study and research activities under the supervision of the supervisor and other researchers. The Academic Board is in charge of the verification, which is conducted at the end of each year during the annual review, and represents one of the evaluation criteria for the final exam.
- Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
The Ph.D. students will learn and acquire a rigorous methodology in carrying out their research activity and the ability to work individually and autonomously in scientific production. In addition, they will develop strong teamwork and management skills. Those skills, which are prerequisites for writing the final thesis and getting ready for the final defense, are acquired through the research activities conducted in collaboration with the supervisors and other researchers, encompassing the supervision of Master’s degree students during the thesis project. The verification is completed at the end of each year based on the report provided by the supervisor.
- Critical thinking
The Ph.D. students will develop skills to outline a research project and critically evaluate their and others’ scientific works. During the learning process, the students can take advantage of the soft skills courses and other scientific activities under the tutor’s supervision, such as the peer review of scientific articles or Master’s degree thesis works. The verification of the acquired skills passes through the examination of the courses attended by the student and, at the end of the year, through the annual review.
- Communication skills
The Ph.D. students will acquire the ability to effectively elaborate and present original contributions and the results of their research. These skills are developed through soft skills courses, participation in the writing of scientific articles, and the presentation of the research outcomes at national and international conferences. The verification of the acquired skills is done through the examinations of the courses, but also during the presentation of the research activities and the end of each year (managed by a Committee of the Academic Board), the evaluation of the doctoral thesis, and the final dissertation in front of an international Examination Committee.
- Ability to learn and trasfer knowledge
The Ph.D. students will be able to share their acquired knowledge and skills with others. This ability is achieved through various forms of active teaching, such as exercises or tutoring during Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses. The acquired skills are verified at the end of the year during the annual review.
Following the checks carried out at the end of the year during the annual review, the Academic Board formally may eventually report on possible gaps in the Ph.D. students’ path, suggesting corrective actions (such as the inclusion of a particular course in the study plan) that can lead the student towards the achievment of the expected outcomes.