Wednesday, July 14, 2010

World Cup Champions

The end of term pressure is on with looming tests and deadlines for reports and presentations. But, there was still time today for our own TTU Sevilla Center World Cup Championship presentation. Dr. Englis congratulated the students for their role as 'witnesses' to the championship.

Monday, July 12, 2010


This posting is a little out of sequence. We visited Lisbon, Portugal, over the weekend and then hurried back to see the World Cup Final which was the subject of last night's blog entry. Now the excitement of the Spanish championship has subsided a little so I can give an update on Lisbon.

The approach to Lisbon from the south is dramatic with a great view across the river into the docks and the city.

Our first stop was at the Church of Santa Maria and the Jeronimos Monastery. Vasco da Gama and his crew spent the night in prayer at a hermitage located on this site before departing for India in 1497. The monastery was built to commemorate the voyage and the tomb of da Gama is contained in it. Like so many of the churches we have visited, when you go in, all you can do is look up.

The monastery is connected to the church and is just as beautiful

The Monument to the Discoveries is located along the shoreline which is just across the street from the Monastery. It was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator who was instrumental in promoting the development of the Portugese colonial empire.

We also visited the Igreja de São Roque (Church of Saint Roch) With construction started in 1506 it was the earliest Jesuit church in the Portuguese world.

Lisbon experienced a devastating earthquake in 1755 and much of its downtown area has been rebuilt since then. The plazas and monuments are amazing.

The center of Lisbon is very hilly. This elevator is exterior to the buildings and just takes you from one street level to another, 200 ft higher.

We did our sight-seeing as a group on Friday after arriving in Lisbon. Saturday we were on our own. Kathy and I chose to visit the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum which has a collection of ancient and modern art and the Maritime Museum which contained some fascinating models of the ships used by the explorers. I will try to post some photos taken by the students soon.

Lisbon is a great city and we are definitely hoping to visit again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Viva Espana!!!!

In case you hadn't heard, the World Cup of futbol (soccer) has been going on for the last month. Spain has won the championship. It would be impossible to describe what a big deal this is for Spaniards. Soccer is the national sport and this is their first appearance in the World Cup final and their first championships. There will be celebrations until the not so early morning hours.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Solar Power

Today was a highlight of the summer for the engineering students when we got to visit the Abengoa Solar Power research facilities. One of the students described this excursion as the primary reason he wanted to come to Sevilla.

Abengoa operates 10 MW and 20 MW power plants based on solar concentration towers. The concentrator towers and the parabolic concentrators below are used to generate steam which drives conventional electric power stations.

Abengoa Solar has signed an agreement with Arizona Public Service, the largest electric company in Arizona, to build and operate what will be the largest solar power plant in the world. With 280 MWe of power output capacity, the plant will have the capacity to supply clean power to 70,000 homes. The plant will use parabolic collector technology similar to the units we saw.

Texas Tech engineers are always ready to get their guns up.

Cathedral of Seville

After our tour of the Alcazar, we continued to visit the Cathedral of Seville. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third-largest church in the world. The cathedral was built to demonstrates Sevilla’s importance as a major center of trade after the Reconquista. The builders who started the cathedral in 1401 set the goal: “Let a church so beautiful and so great that those who see it built will think we were mad”.

Like so many other buildings in Spain, the cathedral was built on the former site of a mosque. All of the mosque was destroyed except the orange tree patio and the minaret or tower. The builders of the cathedral added a Gothic bell tower to the top of the minaret to form what is now referred to as the Giralda and is the most iconic landmark in Sevilla. Inside, the mammoth columns and towering ceilings are simply breathtaking, as is the climb up the Giralda where the Sevilla skyline picture was taken.


On Sunday, the TTU Center director, Dr. Doug Inglis, guided the students on a tour of the Alcazar of Sevilla. Originally a Moorish castle, Peter the Ist (Peter the Cruel) converted it to a royal palace after the Spanish Reconquista. Modifications to the palace were continued by many of the Spanish royalty and it still serves as the official residence when the royal family visits Sevilla.


On Thursday night, a group of Texas Tech students had the opportunity to experience one of the best known and most controversial traditions of Spain, the bullfights.

This was a special night that was part of a season long competition for young bullfighters. The six that we saw varied in age from 17 to 24. One of them was selected as the best for the night and will participate in a final competition with 5 other winners later this fall.

Admittedly, there is cruelty in the fights and all 6 bulls are guaranteed to be killed. But, the spectacle is amazing and worth seeing at least once. This night was also different because it started at 10:30 instead of the early evening so it was "under the lights." That helped with the heat but kept me from getting good pictures.

One of the young bullfighters was so anxious to demonstrate his courage that he faced the bull on his knees as the bull made his first charge into the ring. (Click on the pictures for a larger image.)

The more conventional style.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Friday, we visited Cordoba, one of the most historically rich sites in the world. It's history dates back to the Neanderthals in 32000 BC. The city was inhabited by the Carthaginians until conquered by the Romans in 206 BC. In 711 AD, it was conquered by the Moors from northern Africa and became a provincial capital and a major civilization center. It was one of the largest cities in the world with a population estimated as high as 500,000. In 1236, it was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile, during the Spanish Reconquista.

The highlight of our visit to Cordoba was a tour of the Mezquita which was first a Christian church, then a Muslim mosque, and now a Catholic cathedral. The Romans started construction on the building in 600 AD. After the Islamic conquest in 711, work was begun on converting the building into a mosque in 784 and continued until 987.

The interior of the Mezquita is amazing with row after row of giant double arches supported on marble and granite columns salvaged from the earlier Roman buildings.

In 1236, Cordoba was recaptured from the Muslims during the Spanish Reconquista. The Spanish converted the building into a church with an elaborate Gothic cathedral inserted into the center of what is still, architecturally, a very Moorish building.

Sometimes, in the Spanish heat, you just have to find a shady spot and "chill."


We are at the end of the first full week of classes and the students are working hard. Here, the students in Dr. Fontenot's Engineering Communications class give a presentation on their proposal for a solar powered community.

Students in Dr. Oler's Thermodynamics class are encouraged to work together to solve the thermo problems using Mathcad.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I will miss you Dr. Hashemi!

The day before our final was a sad day for me, because I had to say good bye to Dr. Hashemi, who is one of the best Professors I have ever had. "Just DO IT!!!!!" I will miss you Dr. Hashemi!

travel break

Rodrigo: This photo was taken in Morocco during an excursion trip by Discover Sevilla. We traveled to M'Diq, ChefChaouen, Tetouan and Tangiers in one weekend. This was very exciting for me since it was my first time ever to be in a third world country and because the scenery was beautiful. It was a completely different world for me. ChefChaouen is a very interesting city since the walls and doors of buildings were blue colored and the walkways were very narrow. It was somewhat interesting that although we were sleeping in a four star hotel the water was still a bit brown colored. The people in Morocco are very friendly to foreigners, despite that the starting price is very high when you barter with local merchants. I enjoyed the food for the most part and I was surprised of how much food they provide in one plate. What I didn’t like much is that there wasn’t a lot of variety. Almost every Moroccan menu had only tagines and couscous dishes. I felt that the food was a bit bland, at least for my taste. I hope that I will return to Africa to see other countries and regions, especially the Sahara desert.

Trevor: I went to Rome over the break between classes. I was there for a total of two and a half days, during which time I'm sure I walked over thirty miles and saw many things I'll never forget. Even though it was roughly only a two day trip, it's still hard to sum up in a few sentences; the weekend was packed full of seeing things and experiencing Roman culture.

I started the trip with a bang on the first morning at the Vatican City, the smallest city-state in the world and home of the Pope. It was incredible, as could be expected. One of the friends with whom I was staying and I took a tour in the morning for about 3 hours through first the Vatican Museum and then the other highlights of the city, including the Sistine Chapel, which features arguably Michelangelo's best work, The Last Judgement, and St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world. The whole city was full of incredible history, architecture, and of course, tourists. After the Vatican City, we went to the Pantheon and saw multiple plazas and fountains, of which Rome has an incredible amount. After supper that night, we went to see some of the sites we would go to the next day as they were lit up at night; the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, etc. After a few hundred pictures and a few miles, we called it a night.

The next day we all went our separate ways to see everything we wanted. I went to countless more small churches and plazas and got to see the Trevi Fountain, another incredible and beautiful work into which I threw a coin to ensure I'd come back to Rome. After having seen a church with a solid gold ceiling and more plazas than I could remember, I went to take a tour of the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. I've always wanted to see the Coliseum, and it didn't disappoint me at all. To this day, it is an amazing feat of engineering, especially considering that it was put up in only eight years. The Forum and Palatine Hill are both full of more history than I could remember, but basically, the Forum was the direct center of ancient Rome and Palatine hill is where the royalty stayed (or so I believe). After these tours, I saw the famous Plaza of the Republic and the Castle of San Angelo, a castle very close to St. Peter's Basilica that's connected to the old Vatican City walls.

As I said, it's a hard weekend to sum up in a few short paragraphs, but what I have written includes the highlights of the trip. I had a great time and can't wait to go back. Here is a picture of me at the Castle of San Angelo with St. Peter's Basilica and the courtyard of the Vatican in the background.

Andy, Garret, Eric, Brian, Robert, Erika, Rodrigo, and me(Riley): We went to Barcelona for our 5 day break between sessions and had the time of our lives. Barcelona is on the Mediterranean Sea and also surrounded by mountains, and none of us had ever seen the whole mountain, beach combo so we all thought that the city was absolutely beautiful. We got to see the famous "Segrada Familia" cathedral done by Guadi and many other architectural masterpieces done by him. Our favorite adventure was probably the bike tour that we did that took us all over the city. It was an awesome way to get to see all of the highlights and all in all, we had an amazing time.

Sebastian: Over the 5 day break, I had the opportunity to go to Barcelona and travel with my parents. It was an amazing trip, and I enjoyed Barcelona a great deal! I was able to visit La Sagrada Familia, which was an incredible sight, both from an artists perspective, as well as an engineers. My second day we went to Parc Guell, and that night we met up with my uncle, who lives in Bilbao, and went to see the classical guitarist Manuel Gonzalez who performed an array of great classical guitar pieces from Concierto de Aranjuez to Recuerdos de la Alhambra. The following day, we took a trip to the Dali-Gala Theater Museum, which is in a town about an hour and a half from Barcelona called Figueres. The museum is unlike any I have ever been to. It is as if walking into one of Dali's paintings, from the moment you step in the door there is no way of knowing what you can expect. Along with all these great places, there was also the food! I had some of the best paella, shrimp, sardines, and sangria I have ever had the opportunity to taste! I can't really point at either of these and say they are my favorite, since I enjoyed all so much. But I'll send you a picture that made the most impact on me during the trip.

from Amelia: I went to London for the break between summer sessions, and it seems that, by and large, what I saw most were the street performers. Funny or talented, they would elicit coins from passerby using various tricks and gimmicks. This guy was wanting to draw a crowd for some reason, so he was breakdancing. This was in Picadilly Circus, but many of the performers I saw were also in Covent Gardens. I guess they figure that, if people are going to be spending money anyway, they might as well give spare change to performers on the street.

The best thing I did in London, though, is visit the British Museum. I spent four solid hours wandering the exhibits, and I didn't even cover half of it. Everything there was amazing. Other than that, I just wandered around. London was a really great trip.

Rebecca and Mary: Over the four day break between classes Mary and I decided to stay in Seville. Even though we had both been here for 5 weeks already we still felt like we hadn't really seen much. Only class and then home, with an occasional walk around the shops by the cathedral. It was really fun to finally be able to walk around without having to keep checking time to see if we were late or not. A park that we always pass on the way to school was holding a neat fair that had artists and people selling crafts. There was a little miniature trampoline/bungee contraption, but it was closed when we passed. Then we also visited the Maria Luisa park. It is absolutely gorgeous, and HUGE too. The trees that grow there are like something out of a Disney movie, there roots seemed like they would go down to the center of the earth. They were definitely my favorite part of the park. We also experienced some night life. We went to the discoteca which was a lot of fun. It was called Buddha and people would walk in and automatically walk to the third floor. There was probably only like ten people on the first two floors and then when we went to the third floor we saw how packed it was. The funny thing is that they played all American songs, and there weren't even that many people speaking English but it seemed like everybody was singing along. Besides that Mary and I took advantage of sleeping in and relaxing watching some world cup games. It was a fun break, now back to work.

Austin, Matthew, and Eric(me): In Paris France during the study abroad program in Seville Spain. We took full advantage of one of our free travel weekends alloted by the staff at the Seville Tech Center. Using the metro system, we were able to see the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triumph, The Moulin Rouge, The Louvre, and the Catacombs. The food was amazing, and unlike any place we have traveled to before, the entire meal was set for one low price with your choice of appetizer, entree, and a dessert. The Paris experience was not complete, of course, without a taste of some fine wine. . . Paris was an experience that everyone should enjoy.