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Photo courtesy of Lucio Mondavi

How Stanford Brought Me To Italy

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Photo courtesy of Lucio Mondavi


I recently graduated from a six-year stint at Stanford with undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. I’ve found no place better suited for one’s intellectual development – your fellow classmates, your professors, your TAs; everyone is there to help you make the most of your experience! I will soon be saying goodbye to the Bay Area and welcoming a very different culture.  I’m moving to Italy for an internship at Lamborghini.  Sant’Agata is a tiny town in the Italian countryside, an unlikely location to craft some of the most technically advanced vehicles on the road. 

I’d like to share just a bit of my Stanford journey as it’s a common narrative and one on which you are about to embark. Stanford has given to me unrequitedly, and I owe every thanks to the professors and classmates who helped me along the way.

I arrived at Stanford in 2011 believing I wanted to study mechanical engineering.  Though I had studied Italian in high school, I couldn’t say much and mostly smiled and nodded in my language placement interview. 

I started in first-year Italian when I arrived and found a hidden gem in Stanford’s Italian department.  The department is small, so I came to know many of my professors well. The class sizes – my Italian poetry class had two students – and more intimate setting balanced the larger classes of mechanical engineering. 

I took several of the final classes to complete my Italian minor while studying at Stanford in Florence.  I look back at my time studying abroad as one of my most formative periods at Stanford.  I fell in love with the country.  One quarter wasn’t enough time to absorb the beautiful culture or taste enough of the food.  I needed to come back.

Stanford in Florence helped me to find an internship in Milan for the following summer, thus combining my mechanical engineering and Italian studies.  I worked at a small engineering firm and began to integrate into Italian culture – I still did not talk, look or act like a local, but I was getting better.

Fast forward three years, and I’ve just concluded my coterm and research in Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab (DDL), an automotive research group focusing on automated driving.  Shortly before I graduated, Lamborghini approached the DDL about potential R&D interns.  Wanting to return to Italy and continue work in the automotive sector, I jumped at the opportunity.  Though I am sad to say goodbye to Stanford and the Bay Area, I could not be more excited to start anew in Italy.                                                 

I wanted to share this Stanford story because it shows just a few of the innumerous opportunities that exist at Stanford.  I feel fortunate to have had several incredible mentors through my Italian and mechanical engineering classes, and I encourage new students to explore Italian especially if they are interested in studying abroad in Florence.  After all, what could be better than living in one of the most historic cities, eating the best pasta and sipping on wine?

Lucio Mondavi

Mechanical Engineering
Class of 2015

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