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Pitt in Florence: Engineering of the Renaissance
Florence, Italy
Program Terms: Summer
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Panther Program Housing Options: Apartment / Flat
Language Prerequisite: No prerequisite Number of Credits: 6
Internship/Research?: None Open to Non-Pitt Students: Yes
Language of Instruction: English Program Length: 4 weeks
Courses of Study: Engineering, History of Art and Architecture, Mechanical Engineering Minimum GPA: 2.50 (for engineering students only), 2.75
Pitt Campus: All Pitt students
Program Description:

Students will spend four weeks in the beautiful and historic city of Florence, Italy, exploring various sites of significance to the development of the European Renaissance. By visiting the actual places where the great minds of the Renaissance- including da Vinci, Galileo, and others- actually conducted their research and studies, students will be introduced to the important principles of engineering and physics that were developed during this period. The course is designed for students in the Swanson School of Engineering, but students from other disciplines with a strong interest in the subject matter and a solid background in math and science are also welcome to apply.

Location Information | AcademicsOn-Site Faculty and Staff | Program Dates | Prices | Airfare | Housing Information | Student Testimonials | Stories from Abroad | Program Requirements | Pittsburgh-Based Staff

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. Florence is famous for its history. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.

The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year, and Euromonitor International ranked the city as the world's 72nd most visited in 2009, with 1,685,000 visitors. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the city is noted for its history, culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace, amongst others, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Florence is also an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked within the top fifty fashion capitals of the world; furthermore, it is also a major national economic centre, being a tourist and industrial hub. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy.

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Students will enroll in two three-credit Pitt courses for a total of 6 academic credits.

One course is an ENGR course taught by two faculty members from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The objective of this course is to introduce students to engineering and technological achievements of the Renaissance and to place these achievements within the sociological and artistic context of that period. The course will focus on revolutionary advances in understanding of physics and engineering during the Renaissance, with particular emphasis on architecture, mechanical inventions and biomedical engineering. Students are required to have a solid background in math and physics in order to participate fully in the curriculum.  Typically engineering students can expect to receive approval for this course to fulfill a technical elective in their major (with their advisor's final approval).

The second course is an approved ENGR humanities/social science elective that analyzes and explores Florence as a global city.  The course will look at Florence beyond the Renaissance myth and delve into history, culture and critical perspectives on the multi-ethnic urban landscape of the city and region.  Objectives of this course include gaining a critical perspective on the concept of globalization and its application to Florence, understanding why the identity of Florence is a social, cultural, economic and political matter, and learning to identify the dynamics of cultural construction processes. Typically engineering students can expect to receive approval for this course to fulfill a humanities elective (with their advisor's final aprpoval).

Additionally, local Italian faculty will provide group instruction on Beginners Italian Language. This instruction will be 8 hours total in duration.

Please note that sophomores through seniors in the Swanson School of Engineering are encouraged to apply.  Additionally, students with an appropriate background in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences (who have a basic knowledge of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, introductory physics and calculus) are also welcome to apply. Students need not have had Italian language experience to participate in the program, as all lectures will be conducted in English. However, students who have had some exposure to the language will find this beneficial. 

Please click here for the course syllabus: Engineering of the Renaissance - Florence Syllabus.pdf

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galdiProfessor Galdi earned his credentials at the University of Naples in Naples, Italy. He is currently a Leighton E. and Mary N. Orr Professor of Mechanical Engineering. His research area is in fluid mechanics with a particular emphasis on linear/non-linear stability, interaction of fluids and particles, flows in channels and pipes, shape of rigid walls and associated fluid stress, and turbulence modeling.

arProfessor Robertson earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She’s currently an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh with research interest in continuum mechanics. She emphasizes Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluid dynamics, cerebral vascular disease, and constitutive modeling of soft biological tissues in her research.

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Arrive in Florence:  May 1, 2014
Program Completion: May 30, 2014

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In-State Program Fee: 2014 - $5,800.00
Out-of-State Program Fee: 2014 - $6,000.00

Included: tuition for 6 Pitt credits, on-site orientation (including a group arrival dinner), housing in furnished student apartments, some other meals, airport transfer and ground transportation in Florence, health insurance, and admission to all scheduled events and excursions (including a Florence Museum Pass), and group departure ceremony at the conclusion of the program.

Additional Expenses: Pitt administrative fee ($300.00), Airfare (round trip to Florence) (~$1,200.00 - $1,500.00), Meals ($500.00), Books (TBA), Personal expenses (depends on personal spending habits*).

Students planning to extend their stay or travel extensively in Europe on the weekends should budget more for personal expenses.

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Round Trip from Pittsburgh to Florence:  $1,200 - 1,500

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Pitt students will be placed in centrally located, shared apartments that are fully furnished for their entire stay in Florence. Apartments include a kitchen, bathroom and television.

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Nicholas Amoscato documented his trip with the most beautiful photos of Florence- check out his blog:

"I would highly suggest all undergrad students to take advantage of studying abroad sometime during their college career.  My favorite aspect of the program was learning about a new culture and becoming familiar with the city of Florence while I was studying there.  It was amazing to be able to spend more than just a few days in the city and to learn about its history and be comfortable with navigating around it."
- Kelly Macie 

"Going to Italy was important to me because Italy is such a beautiful country with amazing architecture! It gave me a whole new perspective on the world as a whole. They do things so differently over there and, to be honest, I actually liked it better than the way we do things here. I have only been back in the US for a few months and I'm already planning my next trip back! I would encourage everyone to take a trip out if the country at least once in their lifetime. It's really important for us as students to experience other cultures and learn about the world."
- Alisha Yorke 

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  • Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors in all disciplines of the Swanson School of Engineering are encouraged to apply. Additionally, students in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences with a strong interest in the subject matter and who have a solid background in physics and math are also welcome to apply.
  • A minimum 2.5 GPA for engineering students and 2.75 GPA for all other students is required. Students who do not meet the GPA requirements must obtain Special Dean's Permission. Please see the section for Material Submissions for more information.
  • If you would like to spend any of your last 24 credits abroad, you must also obtain special approval.
Applicants are not required to have Italian language experience, though some exposure or basic Italian skills will be helpful. All engineering lectures are conducted in English.

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Peer Advising Walk-in hours in 152 Benedum Hall: 
Monday and Tuesday 11-5
Wednesday 9-5

Dr. Diane Hardy Saran
Associate Director, International Engineering Initiatives
Swanson School of Engineering


Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2015 01/16/2015 01/30/2015 TBA TBA