Computational Mechanics (CM)


Numerical simulations are playing an increasingly important role in scientific investigations and industrial innovation. The ability to study a full range of physical and temporal scales using virtual models allows today to rapidly explore innovative technological solutions, simulate the behavior of complex biological or artificial systems, devise new production processes, optimize components and discover new materials with innovative properties. This research is having an increasingly significant impact on industrial competitiveness, where not only virtual prototyping based on numerical simulations is considered the cornerstone to reduce the time and costs required by experimentation for the development of new reliable and high-quality products, but digital twins are developed to predict the behavior of components or processes throughout their operational life. 

The development of numerical simulation tools is an activity that requires skills that come from different fields: mechanics, fundamental to select the most suitable physical models, mathematics, necessary to formalize the models in governing equations and subsequently to identify the most suitable solution algorithms, computer science, which finally allows the implementation of such algorithms in efficient and robust programs. 

Compared to traditional doctoral programs mainly focused on one of these disciplines, the Track in Computational Mechanics (CM) offers a markedly interdisciplinary doctoral training for graduates who wish to specialize in the research and development of innovative numerical simulation methods for the analysis of complex systems of high technological interest or for their application to frontier emergent topics. The study plan builds on a series of foundational courses to provide a solid background in applied mathematics, numerical analysis, computer science, mechanics, dynamic systems and control, machine learning techniques. These courses are complemented by advanced courses and specialized research seminars to address a wide variety of complex engineering problems concerning:

Structure of the study program, research facilities, and international collaborations 

An integrated education and research program
The CM track, coordinated by Prof. Marco Paggi, offers a specialized preparation on computational methods which is not provided by undergraduate studies, that is strongly requested for by both academic and non-academic jobs. Through the attendance of basic courses, candidates will be exposed to the techniques and methodologies developed in contiguous disciplinary fields, fully realizing a unique interdisciplinary training. Overall, the advanced training offered allows students to broaden their range of skills, considerably improving their ability to tackle frontier research problems within their disciplinary field successfully. The students compose their study plans by selecting courses from a list of basic and advanced courses offered by the School, including also soft skills. Courses are normally attended from November 2024 till July 2025. The PhD candidates will work on their research topics under the supervision of the researchers affiliated to the unit MUSAM - Multi-scale Analysis of Materials. The target output of the PhD program are high-quality publications, see the 10-year impact report of the research unit MUSAM.

Research facilities
Unix-based servers are locally available for high performance computing and code testing, while applications to computing facilities of CINECA are exploited solve large scale parallel computing problems. Experimental facilities in the MUSAM-Lab, founded in 2013 with the support of two grants from the European Research Council, are available to complement modelling and simulation activities.

International collaborations
Collaborations with laboratories of other universities and research centers, on topics related to the PhD thesis, are possible. A visiting period abroad of 3 up to 6 months is highly encouraged and supported by a 50% increase in the scholarship and by Erasmus+ grants, see the wide network of international cooperations of the Research Unit MUSAM. With some universities, double degree agreements are already in place, to earn a PhD in Italy and also in the other country. 

Input and output profiles 

Input profile

Prospective students should preferably have a background in engineering, mathematics, computer science, physics, statistics or a related field. Potential students are encouraged to propose their own research topics. The School is looking for highly motivated people.

Output profile

The CM track prepares researchers and professionals capable of analyzing and proposing solutions to various real problems of industrial, economic and social interest, making them qualified to work in high-profile professional roles within universities and research centers. Virtual testing and digital twins are some key enabling technologies for the digital transformation of industry, and are therefore of high value for the job market (industry, services, public and private research laboratories, study centers, regulatory centers, consulting firms, and the public sector).


So far, alumni and former collaborators had an excellent placement in universities and in R&D departments of companies.