In Europe, Students Research Old London, Roman Concrete Mysteries

Using summer research grants to study primary sources, undergraduates Shaili Patel and Taylor Davidson analyzed early London architecture and the stuff that made Roman buildings endure.
By Shaili Patel and Taylor Davidson

October 22, 2014

This summer, two Norwich University architecture students researched intriguing historic puzzles in London and Italy.

Undergraduate architecture and history major Shaili Patel, a rising junior, researched the influence of Enlightenment philosophies on London city planning through the work of Christopher Wren and John Gwynn, luminaries of 17th and 18th century architecture.

Patel visited the English capital to study and analyze primary sources, most of which were original engravings of city maps and plans designed by Wren and Gwynn. At the same time, she experienced modern London; in many ways the opposite of the rational London proposed by the gentleman architects she studied.

Her research culminated in an in-depth paper with visual analysis of the plans and texts she studied. Patel plans to submit her paper for presentation at the Phi Alpha Theta (the national history honor society) undergraduate research conference.

“Wren presented a visual theory with his plans, while Gwynn took the theory and made it a practical application of the rationalism of the Enlightenment that is evident in the London of today,” Patel says. Consequently, more of Gwynn’s ideas are present in present-day London.

Roman Concrete

While Roman ruins are also present in London, undergraduate architecture student and rising junior Taylor Davidson traveled to Italy this summer to research the applications of Roman concrete and related designs as part of a Norwich University Summer Research Fellowship.

His research, entitled “Concrete: Looking at the Old to Improve the New,” looks for practical techniques that can be taken from Imperial Roman concrete and applied to modern construction.

“The longevity of these structures, such as the Pantheon and Coliseum in Rome, stand as a testament to the success of Imperial Rome’s concrete and design,” Davidson says.

“If we can apply some of the techniques that proved successful in Rome, perhaps we can increase the structural longevity of our own concrete, thereby reducing costs and CO2 emissions … from concrete production.”

Davidson visited Rome and Pompeii to examine remaining examples of Roman concrete. He spent weeks documenting and examining structures to extrapolate techniques and material use that contributed to the longevity of the structures.

“Rome is a treasure of architectural wealth. The fact that these buildings, some of which are more than 2,000 years old, remain standing provides us with the richest source for examining and understanding the past,” Davidson said.

Davidson documented sites using notes, detailed drawings and detailed photographs of each site he visited, all of which contribute to his culminating research paper.
These ancient Roman architectural structures preserve a record of invaluable information about the civilization from which they arose.

Davidson hopes to answer why modern structures have such a comparatively short lifespan, a problem that faces contemporary architects, builders and society overall.
Deducing the key techniques and designs from ancient Roman can inform the construction of the future, he says. It may be possible to create structures that endure beyond what we now consider the acceptable lifespan of a building.

Robust Slate for School of Architecture + Art 2014-15 Lecture Series

Upcoming speakers include Michael Gericke, partner at global design powerhouse Pentagram, and Kill Shakespeare graphic artist Andy Belanger.
By Tolya Stonorov & Timothy Parker, Assistant Professors
School of Architecture + Art

October 22, 2014

Over homecoming weekend, the School of Architecture + Art kicked off its annual lecture series, supported in part by the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation, with a Norwich focus. Two students who received the prestigious Summer Research Fellowship, Shaili Patel and Taylor Davidson, each presented their research. They were followed by a lecture from Norwich architecture alumnus Jason Iacobucci, principal of Solus 4, an architecture, interior, and planning design and research firm which operates as a core group collaborative on a global platform.

The lecture series continued this October when Michael Gericke, a partner at Pentagram, self-described as the world’s largest independent design consultancy, who spoke on October 10. With offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Austin, Pentagram markets itself by stating, “We design everything: architecture, interiors, products, identities, publications, posters, books, exhibitions, websites and digital installations.”

Co-sponsored by the Norwich University Writers Series, Andy Belanger (Andy B.), the graphic artist for the comic book series Kill Shakespeare will talk about creating art and life as a comic artist at the Chaplin Hall Gallery on Friday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. Kill Shakespeare is a 12-issue comic book that deals with William Shakespeare’s characters and Shakespeare himself. These famous characters are brought to life and they either long to kill Shakespeare or to protect him. The first 12 issues of Kill Shakespeare were adapted into a live staged reading format in 2011, which the Norwich Pegasus Players will perform on Friday and Saturday, November 7-8, at 7:30 p.m. in Dole Auditorium.

Later on November 14, Whitney Sander of the international-award-winning Sander Architects joins us from Los Angeles. Sander’s work includes a Hybrid House that “uses components of prefab technology to create homes that are custom designed for each client. Homes that are not only green but also very high design.” This focus on prefab and green design choreographs well with Norwich’s recent completion of the Delta T-90 Solar Decathlon house.

In February, we are thrilled to host Michael Cotton, a senior architect with Snøhetta, New York, who will discuss a newly completed project. Snøhetta’s designs are cutting edge, internationally recognized as among the best in the world. Their work varies in scope from architecture to landscape to branding.

On March 27, the School of Architecture + Art co-sponsors a symposium with the Vermont Arts Council on modern identity in architectural history, theory and practice. Prof. Vladimir Kulić, Prof. Monica Penick and Norwich Assistant Professor of History and Theory of Architecture and Art Prof. Timothy Parker are co-editors of Sanctioning Modernism: Architecture and the Making of Postwar Identities. The trio will convene and join a panel of practicing architects in a Sanctioning Modernism symposium that seeks to reflect on how modern identity touches present-day clients, architects’ own design principles and related contexts.

Norwich architecture alumnus Gavin L. Engler, an associate with Carol A. Wilson Architect in Falmouth, Me., whose work has been published and widely recognized for its excellence in design, will give the final lecture of the school year on April 10. Engler was named one of Maine’s “Forty Under 40” in recognition of his commitment to leadership, professional excellence and community involvement.

The School of Architecture + Art heartily invites you to join us for any or all of these events, which are all held in Chaplin Hall Gallery.

City Lab: Berlin – Norwich University’s International Campus

The micro-campus set in a city renowned for its experimental architecture and design offers students an outstanding study abroad experience.
By Christian Dengler, 
Director | City Lab: Berlin

October 22, 2015

Contemporary Berlin is experienced as a dynamic superposition of disrupted layers of history, unfolding on it’s way back as a global capital and intellectual and artistic center. Berlin is one of the few UNESCO cities of design and a prototype of radical urban and architectural transformations. It‘s urban form is a collage of contradictory urban typologies reflecting it’s volatile urban history: from Baroque, Classicist, 19th-century Historism, 20th-century Modernism and Avant-garde to Post-war Capitalist developments of West Berlin, communist housing blocks of East Berlin and late 20th and early 21st-century reconstructions, when Berlin became the capital of a unified Germany.

City Lab: Berlin, an international campus of Norwich University, provides an overview of the urban spaces, buildings, architects and theories that have shaped Berlin’s identity. Classes are organized with coordinated site visits that familiarize students with the historical background of the city and help them develop a critical and personal approach to looking at architecture. The buildings and urban spaces we visit have been selected for their architectural significance, as well as their reflection of the different periods of Berlin’s complex history.

As a laboratory for design experimentation, Berlin acquaints students with the production of a wide range of contemporary and iconic modern architectures within the process of rebuilding in a key European city. In the city’s inspiring and fascinating context, students combine site analysis with their talent and intuition to experience and design. Berlin offers students a wide variety of spatial, visual and cultural encounters, from the collections of images housed in its numerous museums and galleries to its breadth of architecture that has shaped Berlin’s controversial identity. As the site of a number of movements in arts and architecture, from Expressionism to Dada, Modernism to Rationalism and photomontage to film propaganda, it is a perfect place to explore the role of architecture as a form of visual production in cultural understanding.

City Lab: Berlin provides an outstanding study abroad experience, balancing a well-structured curriculum with individual independence and comprehensive experience. In its first year of operation, it has attracted students from Carnegie Mellon University and Hobart William Smith College as well as Norwich. The program demands concentration and dedication, as students learn to negotiate between the experience of living in a foreign environment (as avid consumers of knowledge) and the time they spend in studio (as diligent producers of architectural design). Students must show an open attitude towards learning in a new environment and a special commitment to producing rigorous academic work. Students will also have extensive independent time to explore Berlin, Germany and Europe on their own.

For those unfamiliar with Berlin, the encounter with a rather green city often comes as a surprise. The city’s green public spaces are found everywhere, both as large planned parks and informal public spaces scattered across the urban fabric. Not all of Berlin’s green spaces, however, are the product of innovative city planning, but rather the result of war, destruction and division. In a short period of time, the city became the focal point for migration and a melting pot for hundreds of thousands of different peoples, lives and cultures. Berlin faced the ecological problems of industrialization and damage caused by the city’s uncontrolled growth, resulting in the extreme density of its urban architecture and the apparent complexity of modern everyday life.

The superposition and layering of contrasting sounds, aesthetics, solids and voids, smells and different speeds of the city soon became the myth of Berlin and one of the most powerful symbols of Modernity itself. The complexities and damages of the city‘s uncontrolled growth necessitated professional planning to develop new urban concepts and strategies. New housing forms, known as Mietkasernen, or “rental barracks,” came to define the urban context. But it was the appearance of a new industrial architecture inaugurated by Peter Behrens’s AEG Turbine Hall in the Berlin district of Moabit in 1909 that opened the door for Modernism. During the unstable Weimar Republic, Berlin experienced an architectural renaissance fueled by the collective talent of such vanguard architects as Eric Mendelsohn, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Hans Poelzig and Bruno and Max Taut, who gradually steered design away from Expressionism towards a “new objectivity,” or Neue Sachlichkeit.

The Bauhaus, founded in 1919 and given an iconic home in Dessau by Walter Gropius in 1926, spawned a generation of architects and designers eager to advance new forms, materials and methods. Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933 forced the avant-garde underground or into exile, and the Nazis established their own reactionary design agenda. Albert Speer’s plans for a new capital called “Germania,” built within Berlin, were only partially realized before WWII began. Allied bombing raids and Soviet invasion left Berlin in ruins, and capitulation brought about a Stunde Null, a “year zero,” in the city’s—and the nation’s—political and cultural life.

With the establishment of two German states after WWII, reconstruction assumed different guises on either side of the Wall. The erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 transformed vast areas of what had been part of a dense urban fabric into devastated border zones. In Communist East Berlin, Soviet-sanctioned historicism was eventually replaced by the functional modernism of the prefabricated Plattenbau, while in West Berlin international building exhibitions attempted to address the physical and infrastructural deficiencies facing a city made an island by the Cold War.

The fall of the Wall in 1989 was the beginning of a new and exciting era of economic, cultural and social change. Physically, it revealed the scars left by a gruesome object brutally planted in the midst of the cityscape. Though most of these open lots have since been filled with office and apartment buildings, the future of many remains uncertain. After reunification and the German Parliament’s vote, in 1991, to move the capital from Bonn to Berlin, the world watched with fascination as the city began forging yet another identity. The (re)installation of government institutions in the heart of Berlin, along with the huge commercial complex grouped mainly around the Potsdamerplatz have given the city a new image. Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, Norman Foster’s renovated Reichstag and Frank Gehry’s DG Bank are among the most high-profile projects, but many other less publicized works have emerged by talented local designers.

The shift of modernistic and hierarchic planning of cities and buildings towards the development of sustainable strategies of heterogeneity and complexity is a great challenge and commitment for future designers and architects. Art critic and early German historian of modern art Karl Scheffler said, in 1910, that “Berlin is condemned to always continue to be and never to be,” giving us a chance to reflect on how the many changes have affected the character of Berlin as a laboratory and to what extent the city is a model for urban development in the 21st century.

The Business of Baseball: A Summer Intern’s Inside View

Junior business major Taylor Kacur recalls lessons she learned during a summer internship with the Syracuse Chiefs AAA minor league baseball team.
By Taylor Kacur ‘15, Accounting and Management | School of Business & Management

October 22, 2014

Throughout my years at Norwich, I have heard a lot of professors in the School of Business and Management stress the importance of internships and the unique knowledge students gain from such opportunities. During my junior year, I wanted to acquire my own real-world experience. I knew that a summer internship would be an ideal way for me to get a sense of the business world outside a typical college setting. Equipped with ideas on how to find and land internships from the Norwich Career Center, I applied to various internship programs, accepting an offer from the Syracuse Chiefs minor league baseball team in Syracuse, N.Y., a AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals near my hometown. I knew little to nothing about baseball and had never considered working in the sports industry before. But luckily Tim McCarver-like knowledge of the game was not a job requirement. So I took on the challenge, recalling the words of Babe Ruth: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

From my perch as an intern, I saw every angle of a corporate sports business in action, working directly with fans at customer service and front desk operations and helping with on-field promotions, social media marketing and event planning. I found that my Norwich School of Business and Management courses, such as Introduction to Marketing, Operations Management and Organizations of Business, really helped prepare me for these tasks. I also glimpsed the finance side of the business from bookkeeping to raffling and was interested to discover how tough a business baseball can be in which to turn a profit. A lot depends on how staff treat customers. The combined efforts of interns like myself and employees helped increase the club’s average attendance this season. My most satisfying experiences as an intern were seeing a full stadium on game day and watching fans of all ages happily enjoy the game with friends and family. One of the key lessons I learned from this internship is to enjoy what you do and with whom you work. I couldn’t imagine not meeting all of the friendly staff and interns that I closely worked with this past summer.

By the end of my summer as a Syracuse Chiefs intern, I learned that private business accounting is a path I could pursue in the future and that I enjoy working in the sports industry. Without this work experience, I may never have considered it as a possible future career. My internship taught me about real-life business operations. It also gave me the experience and tools required to land a different internship this semester in an auditing department.

Norwich Students Join NASA Competitions, Internships

From space launches to telerobotic challenges, Norwich engineering students pushed their skills at a number of NASA summer programs.
David Crawford School of Engineering

October 22, 2014

Norwich engineering students participated in a variety of challenging NASA competitions, internships and space launches over the summer. Here’s a brief roundup of their endeavors:

RASC-AL Competition

A team of mechanical engineering students was selected as one of fourteen finalists in the 2014 NASA/NIA Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition. The contest provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate engineering students to tackle challenges tied to NASA’s vision for human space exploration. Invited to participate in the RASC-AL forum in June at Coca Beach, Fla., the Norwich team comprised recent graduates Peter Gill, Savanah Medlar, Matthew Roberts and Ethan Hanks. Gill and Medlar along with faculty advisor Danner Friend represented the Norwich team in Florida at the RASC-AL forum. The group selected the tele-operated robot challenge, producing a creative design concept for a free-flying robotic inspection and repair vehicle that could repair torn solar panels. “The Norwich team stood out among all other teams with their detailed physical prototype that was built using 3D printing technology,” Friend said.

LARSS Program Internship

Mechanical engineering senior Spencer Nath worked over the summer as a NASA intern for the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars (LARSS) Program in Hampton, Va. He was assigned to the Advanced Sensing and Optical Measurement Branch, where he worked on a project to precisely measure the sound created by the undercarriage of an aircraft in landing configuration. The ultimate goal was to compare measurements before and after noise-reduction modifications were implemented. He worked with a team of engineers using optics and additive manufacturing technologies to create a custom array of super-powered LEDs capable of highlighting the aircraft (equipped with reflective materials) flying some 400 feet in the air.

RockOn Workshop

Sounding rocket launch during RockOn Workshop at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility
Electrical and computer engineering senior Nathan Tong attended the RockOn Workshop sponsored by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium and hosted at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The workshop allows student teams to build rocket payloads from a kit that is later mounted and launched on a sounding rocket. The payload kit included an Arduino microcontroller acting as the central processor, a Geiger counter and an assortment of accelerometers and environmental sensors. The data collected during the launch allowed the students to study the physical effects of the launch, the rotation of the rocket, the radiation levels (which spiked when the rocket cleared the atmosphere) and the length of time the rocket was in space. “Although we were one of many teams with similar payloads on the rocket,” Tong said, “it was a great experience and a good program for Norwich students to consider in the future.”

Both Nath and Tong received support from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium and presented the results of their experiences at a consortium awards ceremony and reception held on October 8 at the University of Vermont.

State space grant consortiums like Vermont and Colorado’s are part of a national space grant program funded by NASA linking 850 colleges and universities. The program promotes STEM education and provides avenues for students to participate in NASA-related aeronautical and space program research.

Alum Funds Start-up Student Investment Club

Less than a year ago, the Finance Club was not even an idea. Today, the club has 13 members who manage $25,000 in investments, club president Alex Johnson reports.
By Alex J. Johnson ’16 | Accounting & Business Management
School of Business & Management

October 22, 2014

It’s remarkable to think that just a year ago, the Finance Club, of which I am president, was nothing—not even an idea. Today, the club stands strong with a roster of 13 loyal members and a fund of $25,000 to invest with. In less than one year, myself and Ben Fertich (Business Management—Finance ’16) shared a vision and ran with it. We haven’t looked back since and are only growing and improving.

The club came about after a field trip to New York City with Professor Alex Chung (School of Business, Finance Club Advisor). It was a long ride back and myself, Ben and Prof. Chung were talking about the markets and general finance news. Prof. Chung lamented the lack of a Finance Club on campus. Ben and I liked the idea and nodded at each other, thinking it was a cool notion but nothing more. A week before Christmas break, Ben and I began talking about a Norwich finance club really being a possibility. Even if it eventually failed, we thought, at least we could learn a few things in the process. We sat down one day for chow and just brainstormed what the club could be. We gathered the necessary documents and used Christmas break as an opportunity to get the forms and materials in order to get a running start second semester. We came back from break, and within three weeks we set up our first meeting.

Along the way, we met two future club officers. We certainly could not have accomplished everything that we did without them. Austin Surowiec and Erik Lyrvall helped us create the backbone of the club. Between myself, Ben, Austin and Erik, we began to envision where the club could go. We thought that we would wait awhile before asking the school for any money as we wanted to prove ourselves through market simulators and club participation. After our first few meetings, club attendance was already around 10 members and growing each time. With the guidance of Prof. Chung, the officers of the club decided to write the CFO of Norwich University, Lauren Wobby, and ask for a small amount of money to invest. I believe the initial amount was a low as $10,000, and it was Ms. Wobby who suggested we solicit more, adding that she would task the development office to solicit Norwich alumni who might want to bankroll the club. It was fantastic news, and we could not believe how well our ambitions were received, and that our first installment would be as much as $25,000. In the meantime, we continued to use simulators to track our “investments” and work our portfolio allocation and strategy.

Interactive Learning

The officers constructed each meeting to cover a different subject that the group wanted to review. Each week the topics would vary, from the weekly market and news to financial ratios and different types of funds. It was a very interactive learning process. While hosting these club meetings, the officers worked hard setting the framework for the club and establishing its future. As spring waned and summer approached, our group meetings began to wind down, and the club focused more on obtaining a fund to invest with. We heard no official word until mid-summer, when we learned the club was to receive a gift of $25,000 from a gracious alumnus in the Class of 1964.

As of this moment, the club is finalizing the paperwork and smaller details about the fund. But we are writing our investing policy statement for the fund and setting up the allocation percentages for the $25,000. I can’t put into words the experience this has been. The work has been nothing but worth it. Every week the officers and I are trying to learn as much as we can to help the club as much as we can and learn so that we can invest as wisely as possible. However, to have the chance to manage a fund of $25,000 is incredible and such a worthwhile experience. The amount I have learned from the club is second to none.

As a final note, personally I cannot thank Prof. Chung, Ms. Wobby and our generous alumnus enough for all their help. None of this would be possible without their support and hard work!

Digital Design Course Gets Microprocessor Boards Thanks to Alumnus Gift

The boards enable students to learn and experiment with digital logic and computer organization.
David Crawford School of Engineering

October 22, 2014

A generous donation from Don Shaw ‘51 supported the purchase of 10 new Altera development boards to support Electrical and Computer Engineering’s Fundamentals of Digital Design course.

Students in that sophomore-level class use Altera’s Quartus software to design digital circuits in the lab using various techniques to produce VHDL (VHSIC Hardware Description Language) code. Student designs are compiled in the software and downloaded to the target field programmable gate arrays on the new development boards.

The boards facilitate a wide range of laboratory exercises for teaching digital logic and computer organization. The boards feature numerous toggle and pushbutton switches to provide inputs LEDs, an LCD to provide outputs and a variety of industry-standard input/output interfaces, including audio, video, USB and Ethernet. As Prof. Ronald Lessard notes: “These new boards enable us to stay current with industry-standard features used in modern digital systems design.”

At Nursing Home Ball, Young and Old Share A Gentle Twirl

A Norwich University Cadet shares a gentle twirl with a resident of the Mayo Nursing Home in Northfield, Vermont. Each year male and female cadets from the nation’s oldest private military college organize the Mayo Ball, a formal dance for residents of the nursing home. Photograph by Mark Collier, Norwich University Office of Communications.

Norwich University Wins $2.3M FEMA Cybersecurity Grant

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Five universities that make up the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC) will blend their cyber terrorism and incident response education programs in order to provide nationwide critical infrastructure protection training.

Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI) has been awarded $2.3 million by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help better prepare the country to defend itself against continuous cyberattacks and intrusions.

For the project, NUARI has partnered with the Criminal Justice Institute of the University of Arkansas System, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, the University of Memphis and the Center for Infrastructure Assurance & Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

NUARI and its partners will develop numerous training products on cybersecurity over the next three years.

These include web-based, just-in-time training programs on cybersecurity, blended mobile training programs, comprehensive cyberterrorism defense courses and web-based training modules and podcasts.

“The entire NUARI team is excited as it leads the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC) in this opportunity to build programs to help defend the nation against cyber related threats,” NUARI President Phil Susmann said. He thanked the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA for recognizing the talent of the NCPC team.

The award is one of six training grants—worth $11 million in total—falling under the FEMA Fiscal Year 2014 Continuing Training Grant (FY 2014 CTG) program, which aims to train first responders, emergency managers, technical specialists, community leaders, and tribal and local governments to prepare for disasters.

The FY 2014 CTG program targets six areas:

  • hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction
  • cybersecurity
  • countering violent extremism
  • maturing public-private partnerships
  • medical readiness/immediate victim care at mass casualty events, and
  • rural training.

As prime contractor, NUARI will receive and distribute the $2.3 million grant to partner institutions through subcontracts, administer the project, and be responsible for deliverables.


Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI) was federally chartered under legislation sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy in 2002 and is funded in part through the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.  NUARI is dedicated to pursuing the ideals of Norwich University founder Captain Alden Partridge to participate in the building of this nation and to prepare its graduates to deal with threats to an American way of life. The institutes build on the University’s status as a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

NUARI, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, serves the national public interest through the study of critical national issues and the development of related educational and training programs; by conducting rapid research, development and deployment of needed technologies; and by addressing related policy, information management and technology issues to enhance a national capability for preparedness and response.  NUARI accomplishes its mission through development of strategic alliances, partnerships, collaborations, and outreach programs with diverse public and private sector stakeholders; communities of governmental and non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions; and business and industry associations and entities.


Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).