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Rocca Project

The Progetto Roberto Rocca is a collaboration between MIT and the Milan Politecnico (POLIMI).  It is funded by the Fondazione Fratelli Agostino and Enrico Rocca to honor Dr. Roberto Rocca (1922-2003), an alumnus of both institutions.

Since 2005, the Progetto has been providing more than $250,000 a year to support the two-ways circulation of people, ideas and scientific practices between MIT and Politecnico in the fields of materials science, mechanical engineering, bioengineering and life sciences, energy, electrical engineering and computer science. Projects that focus on buildings, infrastructure and planning are considered only if they privilege mathematical and physical modeling and the novel use of materials. Priority is given to collaborations involving younger scholars - junior faculty members and graduate students and post-doctoral researchers and new projects. Proposals and applications are evaluated and selected by members of the MIT-Italy Program Scientific Committee.

The Progetto Rocca has jump-started more than 30 MIT-POLIMI faculty collaborations, and funded nearly 100 doctoral and postdoctoral Rocca Fellows at MIT and POLIMI. Many of these collaborations have led to joint publications and received other forms of academic recognition. In September 2020, the Progetto has been extended until 2025.

Typical awards range between $2,500 for exploratory travel grants and $42,500 for a one year post-doctoral Rocca Fellowship at MIT In particular, the Progetto supports: 

  • One-year “Roberto Rocca post-doctoral Fellowships” at MIT for recent Politecnico Ph.D.s
  • 6-12 months “ Roberto Rocca doctoral Fellowships ” that bring  Politecnico doctoral students to MIT as visiting students
  • 3-6 months study and research grants at Politecnico for MIT doctoral students and advanced undergraduates
  • seed funds (up to $15,000) for collaborative MIT/Politecnico faculty projects
  • lectures by MIT professors at Politecnico, and vice versa.
  • small MIT-Politecnico workshops on topics that are the subject of joint investigations

The Progetto Roberto Rocca is managed through the MIT-Italy Program. Its priorities and orientations are spelled out in the agreements signed by the Fondazione Rocca with MIT and Politecnico and are reviewed yearly by the Progetto’s advisory board, composed by representatives of MIT, Politecnico, and Fondazione Fratelli Rocca.

More information available on the site

For further information please refer to the Progetto Rocca 

Presentation of the Rocca Project and testimonials 

Doctoral at MIT

The Progetto funds 6-12 month research stays at MIT for 5-6 Politecnico PhD students every year.

Priority will be given to students who participate in collaborative projects between MIT and Politecnico research groups. Please note that in addition to academic excellence, the fit between the applicants’ interests and those of the hosting labs is a major criterion for selection. High-quality profiles are sought.

The Roberto Rocca Doctoral Fellowships amount to $6,500 per semester, plus a $1,500 una tantum travel allowance. Fellowships also cover the visiting students’ processing and term fees, but do not cover health insurance.

Successful applicants come to MIT as visiting students. As such, they have access to MIT facilities and their labs, and can audit seminars and classes with instructors’ permission. However, they cannot receive credit or enroll in language classes, and are not eligible for a MIT degree. Because of the term fees charged by MIT and to facilitate their integration in the host research groups, students should time their stays to coincide with MIT semesters: from the beginning of February to the end of May for the Spring semester, and from the beginning of September to the third week of December for the Fall semester.

Applications are due April 15th —for the Fall Semester —and October 1st, for the Spring Semester. All documents must be submitted electronically. Applications must include:

  • A one page description of the student’s research project at MIT.
  • The name of the MIT faculty who will “host” the student
  • An indication of the desired length of stay at MIT (one, two or three semesters)
  • A letter of recommendation from a Politecnico faculty,
  • A letter of acceptance from the hosting MIT faculty
  • The authorization to study abroad by the candidate’s PhD coordinator
  • A recent Curriculum Vitae that specifies the applicant’s place and date of birth, citizenship and current residence
  • The student’s graduate and undergraduate academic record
  • Proof of English Proficiency (TOEFL or similar test)

Please send your complete application in electronic format to the Scuola di Dottorato del Politecnico di Milano,  

Applicants will be assessed by members of the MIT-Italy Program Scientific Committee and relevant faculty.

Selected applicants must satisfy all the necessary MIT financial and visa ( J-1) requirements. Admission to MIT as a visiting student is conditional to the successful completion of the following procedures, which take about 90 days: 

  • Your host faculty needs to have your visit approved first by his department’s head, and then by MIT VP for research. Your host department also needs to enter your basic data in the MIT database. Your host professor needs to initiate these procedures.
  • Once your visit to MIT has been officially approved, the MIT International Student Office will request a DS-2019 form on your behalf. You need this form in order to make an appointment at the US consulate in Italy and apply for a J-1 visa. To initiate the visa procedure, you will need to provide the ISO:
    • PROGRAM INFORMATION - Upload LETTER OF ENROLLMENT from the Politecnico di Milano on letterhead certifying the student’s current enrollment in a degree program, expected graduation date, good academic standing. Upload INVITATION LETTER FROM THE HOST DEPARTMENT/LAB ( will be provided by MIT hosting department)
    • FINANCIAL INFORMATION- More than 51% of the total funding must come from a source other than personal or family funds. ( Rocca Fellowship counts among these). Upload FUNDING DOCUMENTS
    • MEDICAL CERTIFICATION - All Visiting Students must either purchase the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan or provide proof that their insurance meets the requirements specified by Federal Regulations for J-1 student visa holders. MIT Student Health Plan Office requires all Visiting Students insurance to cover preexisting conditions. All Medical Insurance questions should be directed to the MIT Student Health Plan Office at

Post Doctoral at MIT

The Progetto Rocca awards up to two 12 months post-doc Fellowships a year to recent Politecnico PhDs in the areas of materials science, mechanical engineering, bioengineering and life sciences, energy, electrical engineering and computer science. Projects that focus on buildings, infrastructure and planning will be considered only if they privilege mathematical and physical modeling and the novel use of materials.

These awards are meant to recognize and support young researchers of exceptional promise, but also to encourage ambitious collaborations between MIT and Politecnico faculty. The merits of the proposed collaboration will be essential in selecting the Fellows. Proposed collaborations need to be at least two years long. In the second year, as specified by the Roberto Rocca Agreement, the Rocca post-doc fellows will return to Politecnico where they will continue to work on the joint project with funding provided by the Politecnico Principal Investigator.

The proposals may be submitted either by a MIT or Politecnico faculty, and must be signed by two Principal Investigators—one from MIT and one from Politecnico. Only regular faculty can sign as PI.

Please note that availability of second year funding from Politecnico is a prerequisite for a successful application to this type of fellowship.

Funding is currently available for two such projects a year—only one 12 month fellowship per project. The deadlines for the submission of Roberto Rocca two-year collaboration proposals is 15th April for the Fall and Spring Semester (single deadline). The selection will be made by members of the MIT-Italy Scientific Committee.

Conditions and Regulations: 

  • Candidates must have held their PhD for a maximum of 2 years at the time of their application
  • Applications must be sent by e-mail to the President of the Milan Politecnico, 
  • Fellowships, unless otherwise specified, will begin in January and end in December
  • Research projects must be signed by two P.I.-- Principal Investigators—one from the Milan Politecnico and one from MIT
  • Applications must include:
    • A project description –three pages maximum—signed by the two P.I.
    • The Curricula Vitae of the two P.I’s –no more than two pages each
    • A letter signed by the Politecnico P.I. and the Deparment Head indicating financial support for the collaborative project at Politecnico for the year following the stay at MIT
    • The candidate’s CV
    • Academic record and grades
    • TOEFL or other evidence of English proficiency.