Leonardo Durante, an Automatic Systems teacher at 'Enrico Fermi' Industrial Technical Institute, Rome, since 2015, has won various awards for the projects and technology challenges that he has helped his automation students with. Innovation and the desire to create inventions that can solve practical challenges are the key to this success. Together they have created a motorcycle helmet with integrated turn signal arrows; a shopping cart that helps the elderly and people with disabilities; a home automation lock with a high degree of computer security and the Trashbot, a robot that recognizes trash and recycles it properly - all examples of Leonardo’s vision.
Thanks to these projects many students become passionate about mathematics, electronics, computer science and automation, going on to work in companies in the industry or become Electronic Engineering graduates like Leonardo. Teaching designing and building something that can be useful with his students has always been his passion. He uses the 'learning by doing' and 'problems solving' teaching methods which allow him to obtain excellent results because it promotes creativity and ingenuity. Leonardo has made lessons open, flexible and innovative by encouraging his students to use resources they find online, to actively use technology including the Internet, smartphones and the PCs at school.
He additionally stimulates his students with competitions, hackathons and inter-school challenges to try to help them appreciate while school is a protected environment, the world of work outside is hard, it engulfs you and you must always be ready and able to meet the challenges life throws your way. This ingrained sense of resourcefulness has seen his students adapt quickly to continue successful collaboration, despite the obstacles of the pandemic, and succeed in international science fairs, raising funds locally if they need to develop and market specific products in the community.
In no small part thanks to his efforts, 40% of his students go on to university (engineering or other scientific faculties) while 60% find specialist work as technicians in electronics, automation, IT or telecoms, including at such prestige institutions as CERN in Geneva. When he is not organising quantum mechanics and photonics seminars at school, or teaching additional courses in home automation, he helps some of his students with their volunteer activities through an app they developed for this.
Helping broaden their outlook as global citizens, Leonardo teaches in English and Spanish as well during his lessons and takes students on visits and field trips at home and abroad, including Erasmus plus projects in England and Spain. He is already planning ahead to 2022 with Spanish colleagues for foreign travel and international participation in a robotics stage in Rome. He is part of the Teacher Evaluation Committee at his school for recruiting new educators, has attended a range of conferences on robotics and has worked with the State Police on initiatives to combat cyber bullying. This always enthusiastic and busy teacher has been recognised for his contributions to education with best teacher awards in Italy, and even a top teacher lifetime achievement award.