February 06, 2023
Luciano Bonaria. One degree, twice an engineer
“I’m ready, togated. I didn’t imagine I’d be able to wear this tunic, one day. I’m really happy”. With these words Eng. Luciano Bonaria began his lectio magistralis in front of a touched and engaged audience. I used to cycle past this impressive building while going to the parish and, when I was older, going to the Peano Institute on a motorbike, I used to look curiously at the wind tunnel. I couldn’t imagine that all this was waiting for me. I’m here today: so much emotion, pride, beauty.”
The Laurea Honoris Causa is an institutional degree of high importance, conferred for specific merits. Turin universities assign just two of them every year. The first one to be honoured by the Politecnico di Torino was Giovanni Agnelli in 1937. Afterwards, entrepreneurs such as Enrico Mattei, Vittorio Valletta, Battista Pininfarina, the Nobel Prize for medicine Rita Levi Montalcini and, in 2019, the astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti have been honoured with such title.
Luciano Bonaria is perfectly on topic, as far as the purposes of this honour are concerned. Nevertheless, such laurel wreath goes far beyond the definition of academic title “a posteriori”, as reported in the royal decree dated 1933. Beyond his intense life as entrepreneur and innovator, this recognition also rewards the open and straightforward wisdom handed down by his rural forefathers.
Luciano spoke about it spontaneously, using a plain language, a style, sometimes rough, reminding of hail and lost harvests, but also of obstinacy in sowing again year after year. Quick flashes on an old-fashioned life, yet so present to attract the Rector Guido Saracco, opening the ceremony: “Who is one minute late, is lost, I welcome you with the words of Luciano Bonaria”, adding that the Honoris Causa degree to Luciano Bonaria is due by a university like the Politecnico di Torino, involved in forming creative engineers, humanists able to anticipate the future of the mechatronic sector, where Luciano Bonaria is highly esteemed.
“This degree is not the finish line, it is a starting line”, he said, before passing the baton to prof. Marcello Chiaberge, responsible for the degree course in Mechatronic Engineering, who pronounced the laudation: “I’m more touched than you, Luciano, celebrating a pioneer in a sector that grew up steeply in the last 50 years”, began prof. Chiaberge, remembering the exciting period at Olivetti and the tests on the first Personal Computer P101, concluding with an analogy: “we must be able to dominate the technology, using all its instruments at the service of innovative solutions, we must be able to mix these ingredients as a star chef does”.
Motivating the Honoris Causa degree, prof. Maurizio Rebaudengo, chairman of the Board of Computer and Mechatronic Engineering, moves from a consideration: “Which is the verb of the Engineer? Design solutions to problems. There’s no doubt about the conferment of this degree, but under what title, being so wide and so many the competences that Luciano Bonaria masters approaching the solution to complex problems? Innovation, intuition, multidisciplinarity, electronics, mechanics, computer science, There’s no doubt: mechatronics is the symbol of all technological solutions of SPEA, that has a strong and longstanding link with the academic world of the Politecnico di Torino, hosting apprentices and managing degree theses. Bonaria himself held seminaries and he believes in continuous education, putting together research, territory, industry.”
Luciano Bonaria starts its “lectio magistralis”: it’s the usual engineer speaking, in the meaning under which he has always recognized himself: a man working with the ingenuity, moved by that active intelligence, experienced when he was a child: “I used to file, to chisel, to get shocked. I learnt to always make tests before switching circuits on. There were not enough resources to buy back the components if something shorted.”
It seems to go back to his youth, to that strong passion that made him invent solutions for testing the effectiveness of electronic boards. “Think if a board in a computer that controls an airport or a defense system breaks. The world cannot be full of chips that could break. I dream of an industrial district for testing technologies. I take advantage of the presence of the Rector to talk to the persons concerned, who have as a major target to keep talents in Italy.”
Big emotions, contradicting the fact that there’s no room for sentiments in a company. There’s no room for sensitivity that brings out of control reactions. But there is space for emotionalism, which is far more than emotion: it’s that powerful energy that originated the intense era of mechatronics, and, for Luciano, his SPEA. His company, where he shared fifty years of work, business and great innovations with his friend and fellow of ingenuity Luciano Marcigot, retired now, but still present and touched in the audience.
Inventions start from emotion: great strategic partnerships and business start from passion. And pride is greater when you are aware of being a star company in the firmament of the great world players, receiving one of the most coveted awards: being a reliable and irreplaceable partner of a world giant in the field of Medical Care.
Bonaria shows the image of the plaque received by an important customer from the Medical Care sector: “Ten years of making the difference for our patients around the world”, He is touched: “Our technology is at the service of life. It saves lives.”
All this, in that distant and majestic building of the Politecnico di Torino, which now welcomes him, and with lots of honours: the congratulations of the Magnificent Rector, the Professors and the proud embrace of his son Lorenzo, to whom Luciano is passing the baton and the tenacious strength to look to the future as an always positive challenge. And then, the greetings of colleagues and collaborators of a lifetime, certainly more excited than him. If you think that an engineer’s mind is focused only on numbers and projects, know that an engineer can also get excited, especially if, like Luciano Bonaria, he is an engineer twice.