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.