An Academy of Informatics

The Informatics building on the Lugano campus
The Informatics building on the Lugano campus

Media and Communication Service

Prof. Michele Lanza, Dean of the Faculty of Informatics

Exactly 10 years ago, our Faculty gave its first lectures, and I would like to share a story that happened last year and that, in my view, well underlines who we are and what we are doing. The setting is an informal dinner in a small restaurant in San Francisco, which is right next to the so-called ‘Silicon Valley’. At the table, a group of individuals whose stories are linked to Ticino and our university, including myself, professors and colleagues Antonio Carzaniga and Mehdi Jazayeri (both co-founders of the Faculty) and a few alumni with prestigious positions in the field: Marco Primi (Apple), Cyrus Hall (Twitch, a Silicon Valley start-up recently bought by Amazon for billion dollars), Lile Hattori (Microsoft, Redmond), and professors Romain Robbes and Alberto Bacchelli (Santiago del Cile and, resp., Delft University in The Netherlands). We were joined by other alumni who, after their experience at USI, are now leading researchers all over the world: Mircea Lungo at the University of Berne, Alessandra Gorla at the University of Saarland, Anja Guzzi at the University of Delft, Alessio Gambi at the University of Vienne, Domenico Bianculli at the University of Luxembourg, and Jochen Wuttke who, after a few years at the University of Washington in Seattle, is now at Google.


It is important to indicate these and other names, because the spirit of this Faculty since its inception is based on the personal and genuine sharing of our common passion for Informatics. That dinner in California with our graduates, who come from and are active in many different places, well illustrates our dynamic and international drive, which has led us to reach objectives hardly thinkable of ten years ago.


Our Faculty has since become an important element, with USI as a whole, of the economy of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland and of the international academic sector. The amount of competitive research funds that our Faculty manages to gather (47 million Swiss francs in ten years) is growing constantly and represent a considerable share of all the competitive research funds at USI. The impact factor of our work is measurable on a global scale: for instance, according to the Microsoft Academic Alliance, our Faculty, in the field of software engineering, is ranked top 20 worldwide and top 10 in Europe.


As far as teaching is concerned, we train our students – coming from all four corners of the planet – to become qualified and skilled professionals. Many of them, unfortunately, find employment abroad or in other parts of Switzerland. Our hope is to create the ideal conditions for enabling innovation and to grow start-up companies. This will take time, but we already can see the first results of our work and, in this view, USI’s move towards ‘hard science’ was correct, wise and visionary.


However, my biggest dream, which at the time I shared with the first President of USI Marco Baggiolini, is making our Faculty a true ‘Academy of Informatics’. A unique place with a strong symbiotic spirit and where research and teaching are rooted in the principle of quality. USI provides an ideal venue to reach this goal: it is a relatively small university, quick in reacting and deciding, and with many individuals who share our spirit. We are determined to ensure that this spirit will continue to guide us in the future as well.