University of Pittsburgh | JohnstownHeinz Programming Area:
Gabrielle spent five weeks in Florence, Italy and one week in Venice, Italy studying the Engineering of the Renaissance and Sustainability in Venice. The courses covered the topics of Italian art history, engineering during the Renaissance, and Venetian history and modern engineering techniques used there. This included classroom lectures and site visits each day to study the amazing architecture, art, and culture found in Florence and Venice. During this experience Gabrielle was living in an apartment with three other girls from the program in an authentic Italian neighborhood. This area was filled with local shops, markets, and restaurants that were not filled with tourists, which allowed her to truly immerse herself in the culture. The first week the students had a few “survival Italian” courses to help them learn important or useful phrases in Italian. Gabrielle did her best to use Italian as much as possible even though most the locals could speak English well.
Throughout the rest of the program, Gabrielle was able to get an intimate education about the Renaissance and the amazing feats that people accomplished without modern technology. For example, the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore was the largest of its time and is still the largest brick and mortar dome ever to exist; today people still do not know for sure how it was designed and built with the technology available at that time. In Venice, Gabrielle was able to learn about the sustainability efforts there and the engineering methods being implemented within the city. This was extremely interesting due to the crisis Venice is facing as sea levels rise and the islands are sinking. The threat of losing precious history, architecture, art, and culture in Venice is more present than ever, with tourism being much to blame. Aside from potentially losing the “floating city”, the surrounding lagoon ecosystem is suffering from years of pollution of residual and industrial waste. Seeing these problems in person really opened Gabrielle’s eyes to the issues in Venice which are also apparent in many other countries of the world. All of these experiences inspired Gabrielle to focus not only her Community Engagement Experience, but also her future career in sustainability. Sustainable engineering practices are necessary to improve the health and wellbeing of people and the environment.
CEE Title: Sustainable is Attainable