Automation wins prizes in Rome

Just like every year, the Omron Smart Project awarded prizes to students and teachers from all over Italy in a competition dedicated to automation. Let us then go to Rome to meet the projects which won prizes in this initiative, a concrete way of bringing schools and industry closer

by Claudia Dagrada

The Omron Smart Project Trophy is now in its eleventh edition. This is a valid initiative created by the company to bring technical and professional schools closer to the industrial automation world. All of this complies with the Ministry’s directives which promote action aimed at highlighting education and excellence. Patronized by MIUR (the Ministry of Education, University and Research) the competition is held annually and is open to students in the fourth and fifth year of all upper secondary schools, supported by the coordination of their teachers. All competing projects were developed using the software tools made available free of charge by Omron.
The show and prize-giving ceremony took place on April 19th in Rome, respecting the tradition, in MIUR’s Communication room. Along with students and teachers, the ceremony was attended by the Ministry’s officials and members of the press, as well as, of course, Omron staff members. This year ten projects were selected as finalists, out of almost seventy presented during the year by schools all over Italy. There were two categories: “Experts” and “Promises” based on the experience acquired by the teacher in this competition.

Ten competing projects: from virtual PLCs to 3D printing
The projects concern the most various segments, from food and beverage analysis to cutting pipes and profiles, right up to gadget printing. Regarding the world of measurement and control, two of the projects turned out to be particularly interesting. The first one, called “Virtual PLC”, was developed by Brescia’s Benedetto Castelli high school, mainly for training purposes. It is a simulation tool of some typical automation systems, to allow learning how to program Omron’s PLC by means of practical work, in a sort of virtual laboratory. Typical industrial processes are simulated to improve students’ skills, but the system may also be used for update or retraining courses for personnel. The second project is dedicated to quality control in the production of aeronautical components.
The students of the Morosini technical high school in Ferentino (near Frosinone) simulated the automated functioning of a plant for the dimensional quality control of the ribs of a wing. The system is formed by three conveyor belts. The main belt collects the rib and inserts it in the measurement circuit. In various phases, three sensors detect its presence and measure its width in three specific points. According to the result, the rib may be discarded, recovered or continue its journey towards the warehouse.

The winners of the different categories: students, teachers and schools
Let us now go on to the awards. Daniele Zerbini, a student of the Cristoforo Marzoli high school in Palazzolo sull’Oglio (near Brescia) won the first prize, followed by Tommaso Mancini of the Fedi Fermi technical high school in Pistoia, and by Luca Nardi of the Enrico Fermi technical high school in Bassano del Grappa (near Vicenza). Zerbini came second last year. In the “Promises” category, first place on the podium went to professor Giuseppe Trimarchi with the “Virtual PLC” project described above, and second place to professor Paolo Coppola, again from the Brescia school, with a project for an “Automatic battery testing and warehousing system”. In the “Expert” category the winner was professor Rocco Potenza of the Marzoli high school with the project called “We Print Buildings”, while second place went to professor Roberto Biasci of the Domenico Zaccagna high school in Avenza di Carrara (near Massa) with the “Automatic Water Conditioning System” project. This year the best communicators selected by journalists present at the event were Alessandro Bettoni and Karim Boudarraja of the Castelli high school. For the “Schools” category, finally, prizes were awarded to the C. Marzoli high school, which came first, just like last year, followed by the Fedi Fermi technical high school and by the Castelli high school.