Getting a global view of engineering by studying abroad with The Citadel
Cadets and students assess structures from Roman Empire and medieval Italy for learning
Each year cadets and students studying with The Citadel School of Engineering can apply their course knowledge globally by examining ancient structures in Italy. The See It, Believe It, Experience It engineering study abroad experience takes the future engineers to Italy for three weeks during each summer furlough.
The dean of The Citadel School of Engineering led the 2017 experience, which included cadets and veteran students from all three engineering disciplines offered by the college—civil and environmental, electrical and computer, and mechanical.
“Each day during our engineering study abroad excursion is focused on a specific topic such as architecture, culture, energy, infrastructure, or transportation,” said Dean Ronald Welch, USA (Ret.), Ph.D., PE, F.ASCE, F.ASEE, F.SAME. “The students visit some of the world’s most iconic constructions and are then charged with providing an analysis of the topic or creating a design solution.”
Notes from the Dean on learning lessons from ancient engineering
In villages, towns and cities, while on foot, bus, or train, students examined engineering methods used in churches, crypts, fountains, museums, roadways, vineyards and even the constantly-running, community water stations. Throughout the experience, the students and the dean kept journals, recording their thoughts and experiences. Some of Dean Welch’s journal is outlined below.
Tours of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill were among the first stops during the 2017 trip. The assignment: converting the Colosseum and the Roman Forum to include more usable space while continuing to highlight the rich history.
Week 2 included considerable time in Turin and the surrounding areas that were accessible by train ─ an area that tends not to be on the agenda for most tourists, but one that is rich for exploration by engineers. The group took an adventurous hike to Sacra di San Michele, sometimes known as Saint Michael's Abbey, the ancient religious complex atop Mount Pirchiriano that was constructed between 983 and 987 A.D.
When visiting longstanding places such as Santa Maria del Monte, the cadets and students were asked to consider and expound upon feats of engineering, such as how colossal granite columns weighing 40 tons each were transported, lifted and set in place,” said Welch. “At the Pantheon we considered how concrete was used to construct the dome and the order of work placement during the construction. The opportunities for learning lessons in engineering around Italy are boundless.
Exploring Pisa’s leaning tower, a famous engineering failure when originally constructed, students observed the wear pattern on the stairs on the compression side of the tower and in the middle on the tensions side of the tower. During the visit they looked at factors contributing to its leaning, how it has been stabilized, and discussed how much more it can lean before failing.
The list of what the group was able to explore is astounding and included Florence, Naples, Pisa, Pompeii, Rome, Turin, and Venice, as well as the sites in the surrounding areas. From the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Cathedral, to canals of Venice and the Spanish steps the marvels of engineering were staggering. The list of local specialties, breads, cheeses, meats and wines sampled is deliciously robust. The next future engineers from The Citadel to head to Italy to study abroad can expect to be equally as delighted. For more information about The Citadels’ study abroad programs, please click here.
All photos provided by Dean Ronald Welch