Crafting Lisbon

Orange trees along the entry IPS.

Orange trees along the entry IPS.

My Friday visit to the architecture school of the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) was icing on the cake after a week of engineering interviews, conducted across the bay from Lisbon at Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro (a branch of the Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal, where I had interviewed students their experiences as engineering students as part of my Marie Curie research project).

You might recall that I delivered workshops at IPS and IST as a Fulbright scholar, back in 2013 (click here for more).

For a little more fun on my last day in Lisbon on this trip, I took the Metro over to IST. There, I visited the first year studio to hear student teams present their urban analyses of Lisbon districts. I toured the 2nd-5th year studios with my gracious faculty hosts and I wrapped up the afternoon discussing recent work with PhD students from the Architecture Research Group who I’d met on my previous trip to Portugal. The doctoral students — Maria Bacharel Carreira, Luisa Cannas da Silva, Mafalda Panheco, and Sajjad Nazidizaji — and thier professor Teresa Valsassina Heitor took me for a beer at the end of the day.

IPS's Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro

IPS’s Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro (image from

Many thanks to my colleagues at IPS, Bill Williams and Raquel Barreira, who helped arrange and conduct interviews. Thanks also to the ISP students who provided interviews and the IST teachers and students who shared their work with me. I can’t wait to visit again!

Loving Lively Lisbon 

Guy ambling home from work on a unicycle, paraplegic dog sporting his own wheelchair, man dancing to headphones on the boardwalk at sunset. Chamber pots on sale at the church bazaar, saxophonist sharing zydeco by the ferry terminal. So much to see, so much life to live.

I’m in the port city of Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, this week to interview women here who are studying first year engineering at the polytechnic institute. I flew in Sunday morning which gave me a chance to see some sights. 

I find a new adventure around every corner, even though I’ve been here before. 

Porto — Obrigado!

One last glimpse of my beautiful Porto and my Fulbright trip there, just before I introduce you to Problem-Based Learning in Belgium….

Guimarães: Birthplace of Portugal

Hamming it up!

Helping with the founding back in 1111 AD. 😉

Guimarães is an architecturally stunning town, and it is the place Portugal was born in the year 1111. Following my visit to the engineering program at the University of Minho and my Fulbright lecture/workshop, my hosts took me to visit the historic center and enjoy lunch in one of its very fine outdoor plazas.

Exotic Porto

Porto's water front -- the perfect place for dinner and an evening stroll!

Porto’s water front — the perfect place for dinner and an evening stroll!

After speaking in Setabul, Lisbon, and Aviero, I packed up bag and hopped on the train to Porto.  It’s a lovely port city with steep topography and — surprise — more of Portugal’s stunning architecture!

I’ve been uploading the photos I took using my iPhone, so, unfortunately, I’m only providing a fleeting glimpse of these gorgeous places.  I hope someday you’ll have the chance to visit them for yourself.

Picking Back Up in Portugal

I dropped the ball telling you about my trip to Portugal and Belgium… I still have lots to show you!  When I last wrote about my Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturing adventures, we were in Aviero and Agueda with  José Manuel Nunes de Oliveira.

Here are a couple more of the modernist buildings at the University of Aviero.

Amazing Sights of Lisbon an architectural and structural marvel.

The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has designed some of the world’s finest train stations and bridges. The station in Lisbon reflects the care and precision of Calatrava’s design work.

Lisbon is a glorious city.

I was truly blessed to spend five glorious days in this place–the capital of Portugal–as part of the Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturing Program.  I will never forget my time there, the places I visited, or the people I got to know.

I’ve attached a few of the iPhone photos snapped during my stay. (Copyright Shannon Chance, 2013.)

PBL at the Polytechnic School of Águeda

The audience was composed of experts and students in engineering and education.

The audience was composed of experts and students in engineering and education.

Visiting Portugal’s University of Aveiro some weeks ago provided me opportunities to speak with doctoral students and professors of engineering and education.

After I delivered a formal presentation to a small but enthusiastic group at the University of Aveiro’s Department of Education, my host, José Manuel Nunes de Oliveira drove me to the University’s satellite campus, known as the Polytechnic School of Águeda (or Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão de Águeda, Universidade de Aveiro) where he teaches engineering.

Jose and his colleagues use Problem-Based Learning to teach engineering students.  They have formatted their classrooms to support group-based learning.  (My DIT colleague, Gavin Duffy, visited Jose and his campus earlier in the year to see how they use space. He wanted their advice to help in the programming phase of DIT’s new engineering facilities.)

What impressed me most in touring the buildings and grounds of the Águeda campus, though, was that the students were all working in groups–and that they seemed to be doing so on every type of project.

Jose says that after the teachers introduce the group-learning approach in the first year, students embrace it and want to do everything this way.

I thought that Jose said that students receive credit for their topic courses (i.e.,those with specific engineering content), but not for their project work (I was wrong, as I explain in my subsequent blog). In architecture we refer to these technical/topic classes as “support courses.”

All the courses a students take in a semester at the Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão de Águeda help support the project they have been asked to do in groups. They are able to apply what they learn in the projects they design… but they don’t get formal credit for the design activities. In architecture in the USA, the design activities are assigned the most credit (typically 5-6 credit hours per semester) while each support course is generally worth just 3 credits. The architecture community tends to value the project or “design studio” work above all else.

My Interview about the Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturing Program

The Fulbright staff in Belgium interviewed me during my visit.  They asked me to describe some of my experiences with the program and explain how I got involved in it.

I hope the interview is helpful to other Fulbright scholars and to academics who would like to invite Fulbright scholars to speak at their institutions.

And, I hope my friends will enjoy hearing about what I was up to during my recent travels in Portugal and Belgium as well.

International Lecture Tour

In less than two days, I fly out of Dublin for a two-week “lecture tour”.  I’m being sponsored though Fulbright Portugal next week and Fulbright Belgium the week after.  This is part of the larger Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturing program.

We have an exciting, action-packed schedule outlined.

In addition to speaking and learning about how other people teach architecture, engineering, and education, I’ve also got a heavy load of homework to carry along.

While I’m away, I’ll hopefully find time to write three conference abstracts, finalize and submit a funding proposal, and prepare for the class I’m co-teaching in May.

Wish me luck!


Lisbon (photo downloaded from Cunard Cruise line)


Wednesday, April 10

Visit to Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro of the Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal.

Thursday, April 11

Round-table talk at Setubal Polytechnic Institute (IPS).

Friday, April 12

Presentation on Tools for Assessing Design Students’ Cognitive Development to Architecture PhD students at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST). 

Monday, April 15

Presentation on The Use of Staff Learning Groups to Transform Engineering Education at the Dublin Institute of Technology to the Department of Education at the University of Aveiro and engineers from the Polytechnic School of Águeda.  I’ll also meet some of the students and teachers using Problem-Based Learning at the Polytechnic School in Aveiro and/or Águeda (25km away).

Tuesday, April 16

Meet with engineering teachers at the Universidade do Minho engineering campus in Guimarães.


Leuven (photo downloaded from KU-Leuven website)


Wednesday, April 17

Meet with the president of the European Society of Engineering Educators (SEFI), an engineering professor at Katholic University of Leuven who also directs KU-Leuven’s Teaching and Learning Department.

Thursday, April 18

Deliver a presentation 7-9 PM on Research Paradigms: Filtering What We See and Know to the architecture school (I will discuss major research paradigms and then provide examples of studies I’ve done that used methods aligned with positivism, interpretivism, constructivism, and critical realism.  Presentation includes examples of work I’ve done in Africa).

Monday, April 22

Presentation on Tools for Assessing Design Students’ Cognitive Development to members of the LESEC (the Teaching and Learning Department) at KU-Leuven.

Tuesday, April 23

Interview with Fulbright Belgium for use on their websites.