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Rob Belardi

Rob Belardi

Erasmus Mundus Scholar 2011-2012

Architectural Engineering BS, 2011

I got accepted into the "Advanced Masters in Structural Analysis of Monuments and Historical Constructions" program hosted by the University of Minho in Portugal.  I have also been selected for the Erasmus Mundus Category A scholarship, which is a total of 24,000 Euros and will pay for the program and living expenses.

I was born and raised in Old Forge, PA, a small town outside of Scranton PA.  I chose to study engineering because I loved buildings. As I progressed through Drexel I developed a deep interest in historical architecture and buildings, this is what motivated me to apply to this program.  I like to study a wide range of topics - thus my English minor - which translates into a wide range of activities.  I am an active member of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) and am a member of the planning committee for the 2011 Steel Bridge/Concrete Canoe Regional Conference hosted on Drexel's campus.  I am also a news writer for the Triangle and recently found out a piece I wrote will be published in this year’s edition of Drexel's literature magazine, Maya.

Update from Europe

I've met a lot of great people in and out my program from Portugal, Europe, Asia, the Mid-East, and Africa.  It’s quite an experience being around so many different people all the time.  I've enjoyed dismissing some American rumors (we all are rich and drive Hummers) and coming out of my "American bubble". I never realized how isolated we are from other countries and cultures until being in Europe; it is really a great thing to live and work with so many people and perspectives.

The program is structured so that we take one class at a time. 9:30AM to 12:30 lectures, then work sessions from 2:30 to often late at night. Each course is approx. 4 weeks long. The first 3 classes were pretty technical and theory driven but we started the 4th today, which involves surveying and diagnosing damages in historic structures...something more hands on and practical.  We are traveling to a church tomorrow afternoon with our prof to begin a damage survey on a 12th century church.  For me, this kind of work is the most exciting. 

I've had a chance to travel to Lisbon and southern Portugal along with Paris and Madrid. Apart from school I'm really making it a priority to travel and experience as much as possible while living here. It’s funny how Europeans think it’s nothing to travel 2hrs on a 30Euro flight to Paris but for me it feels like a chance of a lifetime.  I'm a big architecture fan, so seeing cities...ex. old capitols like Paris and Madrid...are so beautiful and monumental that they really give you a sense of the history of Europe and how different it is than home.

We're all living comfortably and have money to travel and enjoy ourselves plenty.  I've talked before with the other American in this program about how this opportunity is like nothing available in the least in terms of funding.  Paulo Lourenco, the head of the department and this Erasmus program, is one of the premiere engineers and researches in historic constructions in the world. It is quite an honor to say he taught me advanced structural analysis.