Drawing Conclusions in Paris

Sketching in Luxembourg Gardens

Sketching in Luxembourg Gardens

Pam Eddy and I attended the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET) International Conference on Higher Education yesterday. We each presented a paper. When the activities wound up, we headed out in different directions. Pam went to hear a lecture at UNESCO that she’s received a special invitation to attend and I went to study the architecture of Paris.

I sketched in the Luxembourg Gardens and in a church that I’d discovered two days before.

Pam and I met back up for dinner with Pam’s husband Dave. After dinner, we strolled through central Paris–discussing things we’d concluded about the city on our earlier explorations.

Pyro-technics at Pont du Gard

The Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, lights up once a year for just four nights.  And thanks to Hampton University’s Prof. Mason Andrews, I’ve had the chance to see the animated light show twice… once in 2010 (the first year such an event occurred) and now again in 2013.

The 2010 show depicted the history of France. The 2013 show was titled Ulysses the Pirate. The event planners (F Group) expanded the effects significantly over the years–they have added many new pyrotechnics.

This year’s production included some of my favorite animate footage from 2010 (illustrating structural characteristics of the  Roman water bridge) as well as animated projections onto a nearby building and cliff face.

Discovering Uzes, France

I’d never been to Uzes, France even though some of my Hampton University architecture students had.  Uzes is home of the famous urbanist, Leon Krier, though we didn’t get to meet him there this year.  We often use his book, The Architecture of Community, in my Urban Theory class.

Visiting Uzes made for a wonderful day of learning and exploring.  I even wrapped with two decent sketches of my own.

Arriving in Nimes

Nimes is a beautiful town in southern France that is chock full of Roman artifacts. It’s where I met the Hampton University architecture students, mid-way through their study abroad program in France. I typically organize one of these trips each summer. This year, Prof. Mason Andrews had the whole cohort of third-year architecture students on the trip to France–some years we offer two different trips.

Fête de la Musique

fete 1The summer solstice brings throngs of Parisians to the streets. They sing, play, and dance the night away on the longest day of the year.  The annual event is called the “fête de la musique” or festival of music. I’ve shown pictures of some street performers, but there are also large-scale events. There were rock bands in St. Eustache all day long, for instance.

This year marked my second fête de la musique in Paris.  I was there as part of Hampton University’s architectural study abroad program… my colleague, Prof. Mason Andrews, always makes sure we get to be part of this fun cultural event.

Paris’ St. Eustache

The interior of St. Eustauche, in central Paris.

The interior of St. Eustache, in central Paris.

Stephanie Bossert Gupton, a friend from my days at Blacksburg High School who is now a professional photographer, responded to an image I posted on Facebook recently.  She asked me to post more, so here’s a start (thanks to a decent internet connection and a day to relax in Paris).

This is a panorama taken inside Paris’ church of St. Eustache.

As you can see, I have a lot of fun with my iPhone!

Irish Weather

We’ve had 2-3 weeks of glorious weather here in Dublin. People seemed stunned. A few people even started complaining that it had been 75 degrees for too long. Too hot, some said. And truly, we did have a day of high humidity — almost unknown in this fair city.

The past few days ushered in a return of regular irish weather. In Ireland, experiencing “all four seasons in one day” isn’t unusual.

Above, I’ve uploaded some photos from my stint across town and back today.

The photo below was taken from my seat atop a double-decker bus. It offers a glimpse of Dublin city traffic… and shows you why I don’t bike here more often!

This photo, taken from my seat atop a double-decker bus, offers a glimpse of Dublin city traffic... and hints as to why I don't bike here more often!

Yes, we ARE passing that truck!

MOOCs, TED, and Online Courses

I’ve been following the development of online education and MOOCs, in part because I hope someday soon there will be a way for me to earn a certificate or degree in structural engineering using an online format.  I’d love to learn from the very best professors in the field! The tools for assessment are developing beautifully.

Salman Khan’s TED talk, about the Khan Academy, blew my mind. What this man is achieving and offering to society is absolutely amazing.

I’ve been intrigued to learn, also by watching TED videos, about Corsera‘s new achievements. Five of Corsera’s programs were recently endorsed for meeting the standards of university coursework.

The image below illustrates what I’d already heard: college costs six times more than it did the day I started.  This spike began while I was in college, and I faced mid-year tuition hikes. How do students in the US manage to repay their loans?

TED’s website explains:

Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free — not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. With Coursera (cofounded by Andrew Ng), each keystroke, quiz, peer-to-peer discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed.

I recently received a request via email to share some images with you — I’ve included a thumbnail below that you can click to view.

Hi Dr. Chance,

I wanted to reach out to connect with you about a graphic that I helped create which takes a closer look at MOOCs and their recent growth in the education space.

I came across this post on your site: shannonchance.net/2012/11/13/whats-a-mooc-and-can-it-save-humanity/ – and given that you might have an interest in the topic, I wanted to see if you’d be interested in taking a look and/or sharing the piece with your readers. If so, let me know and I’d love to pass it along!

Thanks,
Allison M.

RoboSlam Wrap Up

We ended the “Engineering Your Future” week, sponsored by DIT and Engineers Ireland, with robot competitions (video footage to come) and awards. On the RoboSlam blog, you can see the full contingent of robots we created. Students earned awards for their essays, test performance, robot design, and the like.