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MISTI Program

MIT-Italy: Working With Ferrari by MISTI Program

The MISTI experience of Patrik Kunzler.

[by Patrik Kunzler]

Over the summer I had the good fortune to spend two months working for one of the most exciting companies on the planet – Ferrari – in Maranello, a small town in the hills near Modena.

Mentally, these two months were better than any vacation: beautiful cars, their sounds resonating through the factory grounds, trees in factories, and some of the best architecture for office and technical buildings. Together with the people working at Ferrari, their expertise, openness, and readiness to dream, this made for a working environment one could only dream about. Especially for a car guy. Espresso at 8 am: I’m awake. Sounds of the Ferraris roaming the grounds at 8:15 am: I have arrived.

A few days after a warm welcome, I had started a very Media Lab type project. It was very easy to talk to people, make connections, and work together to get new data and apply novel ways of thinking to improving the driving experience. The two months flew by, and then it was back to Cambridge and the Media Lab to finish my Masters at the Smart Cities group.

Fast forward a bit and here I was again, on a cold, snowy morning, in the town of Maranello where the car of all cars is made (Ferrari, in case you had doubts). Presents for friends, handshakes and smiles with familiar faces, and the sound of an F1 car testing at the nearby Fiorano track.

Familiar town, familiar faces, a place I had become very fond of over the past summer. Now as then, I was a little nervous, but this time for a different reason: I was going to meet with Francalberto, their HR representative, to discuss some serious business.

The MIT Italy program, together with the Smart Cities group at Media Lab, had organized an innovation workshop entitled “La Ferrari del 2020.” It would be us, the Smart Cities group, and 22 of their best and brightest from innovation, engineering, marketing, product development, even the head engineer of GT cars, who happens to be an MIT alum, and the most famous racing engineer in the business. People who actually make these cars as brilliant as they are. People with broad practical knowledge, experience, and vision. How would they react to our citycar? What about our crazy ideas and radical concepts?

But then, being in this environment again, seeing and hearing the cars, the sounds, the faces, brought back memories of the openness and spirit of collaboration and exploration I had experienced here only a few months before. Surrounded by excellence, as the Americans would say.

After all of us had arrived, we were treated to lunch and some Lambrusco at the Cavallino, the traditional Ferrari restaurant right across from the factory entrance. Then, we got a guided tour through the museum, the Galleria Ferrari. This raised lots of discussions – easy to imagine for a group of architects, engineers, artists, designers, and an MD, some of whom love cars, some of whom don’t – but all of whom have strong opinions about the technical, cultural, and historical associations with Ferrari.

The next day, the workshop started the “Sala Gialla.” The architects were all excited; we were in a building by Massimiliano Fuksas, overlooking the iconic windtunnel (galleria del vento) by Renzo Piano.

Professor Mitchell started by presenting our citycar concept. I knew then that I could relax: The 22 superstars’ eyes seemed curious and excited (I knew it all along, didn’t I). Mitch, Retro, Ryan, Peter and I all presented.

After Q&A, we brainstormed subjects for group work, and off we went. Discussions, drawings, pictures, presentations. In the evening, exquisite Emilian dinner at Montana, the favorite restaurant of living legend Michael Schumacher. The next day, another round of group work, this time more specialized, and final presentations. Tired but happy, we ate one more Tigella, a local specialty, had some more prosciuto di Parma. Exchanging of presents, and then it was already time to leave.

All in all, the workshop was a great success: we found that the spirit and goals of our projects and our way of thinking and working at Smart Cities has a lot in common with Ferrari: lightness, efficiency, simplicity, and intuitive, inherent beauty.

Or, to put it in the words of Francalberto: “Ferrari and MIT share the same passion for technology, design, and… dreams.”









11 responses to “MIT-Italy: Working With Ferrari”

  1. CambridgeBoy says:


    I love Ferrari Cars. Didn’t the relatives of Ferrari also start the Volkswagen company in the 1930’s under Adolf Hitler? I hear that Ferrari is going to buy out Volkswagen or was it another German car company that wants to take over Volkswagen…

  2. Monica says:

    that is so awesome!!!

  3. CambridgeBoy, that was Porsche, who also make wonderful cars and have a visionary at their helm.

  4. Melis, the last two pics were taken in Vernazza, one of the Cinqueterre.

  5. sigrid says:


    Will you write such a nice blog for us again from VW this summer??? You know, with the Porsche connection in mind.


  6. Melis says:

    Sounds like a wonderful collaboration. Where were the last two pictures taken?

  7. Pall K says:

    I am jealous. Sign me up!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Did you get a chance to meet Michael Schumacher or Kimi or Massa??

  9. sam says:

    What type of engineering would you major in if you wanted to work at a job like this, with nice cars and a great environment? What about to be a racing engineer? Would it be mechanical engineering?

  10. woah patrik, that is really impressive. we are dying to meet you. you are such a poet. xxoo, the brattle babes