Skip to main content

My name is Matteo Maria Robaldo, I’m 25 and I attended the Master of Science in Energy and 
Nuclear Engineering at Polytechnic of Turin where I graduated this March. As a final part of my 
studies, I spent 3 months in Belgium, more precisely at the KU Leuven university, where I 
developed my master thesis on Computational modelling of the plasma boundary exploiting the 
SOLPS-ITER code. In this article, I will describe first my working experience with the KU Leuven 
research group led by Professor M. Baelmans and then I will focus my discussion on a more general 
description of my stay in Belgium which was in part financially supported by FuseNet. 

A consistent part of my thesis work was dedicated to the use of the Advance Fluid Neutral models 
applied to high radiating scenarios in the EU-DEMO reactor. These have been developed and tested 
at the KU Leuven university from the above-mentioned group. As a beginner user of the SOLPS-ITER code, 
the Belgian group helped me to understand and build my own cases to develop the results to which my 
thesis aimed. They provided me a desk at the Mechanical engineering department where I could work. 
Also, I was free to organize my work at the office, having therefore the time to appreciate this experience 
also outside the working scope. I think that one of the strongest features of the KU Leuven group was their
approach towards my person, encouraging me to ask question and exposing the issues that I encountered. 
Moreover, even if as I said I was a beginner user, they treated me as part of the research group, inviting me 
to attend their meeting where I could learn and receive feedback from the valuable members, either from 
the scholastic and human point of view. During my stay, I developed a good knowledge and understanding 
of the subject and the code, and I learned the work done by the researchers in investigating the 
computational modelling of the plasma boundary to achieve a clean energy source such as fusion. 

I stayed in Leuven from October to December, right before Christmas. I enjoyed my stay in this 
beautiful city. It is really a quiet place where you can find other students from all over the world 
which attend their year or semester abroad in one of the various faculties of the KU Leuven 
university. There are numerous places where enjoy your stay and activities to know the city and 
other people. I found them particularly useful if you arrive in a new country where you want to 
know other exchanging students and make friends. Also, Belgium is not really big and its cities are 
well connected by train, therefore in your free time you can also visit other places. I particularly 
encourage fellow students, which will attend their short stay in Leuven, to apply for one of the KU 
Leuven residencies or other residencies in general. There, you can find numerous people to enjoy 
your stay and make friends being almost completely full of international people. 

I hope that other fellow students will find this article useful, and I encourage them to go abroad and 
enjoy this wonderful experience.