Engineering Rome

Final Project Description


Each student is required to complete a final project in which they write an engineering article about an engineering subject associated with Rome in some way. The choice of subject is up to the student and subject to the approval of the instructor. The article will be written in this Wiki and should be 5,000 – 7,500 words long (this translates into roughly 10-15 pages of 8.5″ x 11″ paper single spaced and typed). Once completed, this article will become a permanent part of this Wiki; each subsequent Engineering Rome class will add new articles, which will, over time grown the size and comprehensiveness of this wiki as an engineering resource. The articles will be available for the general public to view (but not edit).

Each article should include the following features as a minimum:

  • Literature review. A reasonably comprehensive review of any existing literature on the subject. This means looking through the referred journals (to an extent), textbooks (although they rarely tell you much beyond the obvious), and other expert sources. Of course, you can BING/GOOGLE but you definitely need more. In my experience commonly available web resources don’t say much about the engineering beyond what is obvious to a 7th grader.
  • Personal field observations. Pick something that you can actually observe/see/experience while in Rome. This is the component that you could NEVER do unless you were actually in Rome. This adds value beyond a typical book report. I would expect you to go see the subject, experience it, measure it, photograph/video it, etc.
  • Photographs/video. Include pictures and video. A good rule-of-thumb is at least 10 photos – more are better. As long as they serve a purpose and are not just random photos of the subject.
  • Map(s). It’s easy to include maps here. Please include at least 1.
  • Engineering commentary or analysis. Beyond the literature review, your article should include some of your own insight and/or analysis. What conclusions do you draw from the information, what inferences can you make, etc.


This will count 40% of your final grade (that’s a lot). A rough breakdown of the percentages:

  • Meeting the required minimums. About 1/3 of your grade. Did you have 10 pictures, did you have a literature review, did you have a map, were these things well done and useful.
  • Engineering commentary and/or analysis. About 1/3 of your grade. Did you understand the engineering aspects you were investigating? Could you draw some reasonable observations/conclusions based on what you know and what you saw? Was your voice evident in the article.
  • Creativity. The final 1/3. Did you in some way go above and beyond the minimum required? Was your approach to the subject at all creative? How did you use photos/videos and other mutimedia to help the reader understand your subject? What ideas did you have beyond what I told you had to be there? That kind of stuff.

Potential Subjects

There are many. When thinking of what to do, be very open-minded and think broadly rather than narrowly. Some ideas to get the ideas flowing:

  • Aqueducts of ancient Rome.
  • The Aqua Claudia.
  • Methods by which Rome was build on top of older Rome.
  • Basic structural analysis of San Pietro’s dome.
  • Flooding in Rome through out time and the city’s response.
  • Bicycle access/mobility/safety in modern Rome.
  • Use or non-use of the Tevere (Tiber River) in Rome.
  • Reuse and repurposing of old/ancient structures in Rome.
  • Importance of water to the growth of Rome.
  • Ancient Roman evolution of brick or concrete construction.
  • Traffic flow and travel times in and around modern Rome.
  • Restoration of ancient Roman buildings.
  • Incorporation of ancient Roman features (e.g., left over pillar) in modern Roman buildings.
  • Noise pollution/control in modern and ancient Rome.
  • Foundations of San Pietro.
  • Engineering education in the presentation of ancient Roman sites.

The list is essentially infinite. Whatever you pick, make sure it has meaning to you and that you want to do it. This project should be fun and stimulating. You will be doing a bulk of it in Rome so make sure it gets you out to see things.

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