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Ancient Egypt: A blend of engineering/architecture and history/culture

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2017 ASEE International Forum


Columbus , Ohio

Publication Date

June 28, 2017

Start Date

June 28, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Concurrent Paper Tracks Session II - Study Abroad

Tagged Topic

Main Forum (Podium Presentation)

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Paper Authors


Ashraf Ghaly P.E. Union College

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Ashraf Ghaly is Director of Engineering and Carl B. Jansen Professor of Engineering at Union College, Schenectady, NY. Published over 250 papers, technical notes, and reports. Supervised over 50 research studies. Registered PE in NYS. ASCE Fellow and Member of the Chi-Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society.

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Ancient Egypt was a place where engineering/architecture and history/culture blended well. The huge inventory of temples and monuments that stood the test of time for thousands of years is a testimony to the greatness of this civilization. To take advantage of what Egypt has to offer, a concentrated three-week long miniterm was offered to students seeking international experience. The miniterm was structured around several themes that involved elements of engineering/architecture and history/culture. Every monument or temple built in ancient Egypt has been constructed to commemorate one or more important event. There were a wide variety of notable events in ancient Egypt. Some of which involved the birth or death of an influential king, victory over enemy, seizing of territory, success in unifying divided parts of the country, significant Nile flood that resulted in abundant harvest or considerable damage to crops, or a story about one or more of the many gods that ancient Egyptians had. Almost without exception, the marvelous temples and monuments built without the benefit of modern day machinery are engineering masterpieces. The scope and size of construction are tremendous. These structures inspire awe and fascination. Students that sought this international experience were given orientation sessions before departure where they were introduced to the engineering and architectural aspects of the monuments to be visited later in Egypt. This instructor detailed the engineering features through illustrations, photos, and videos, and explained the probable methods of construction. Later in Egypt, a highly qualified Egyptologist introduced the students, on site, to the cultural and historical aspects related to the monuments or temples being visited. This model of instruction was greatly appreciated by the students as it merged engineering and non-engineering subjects in a balanced mixture. Numerous locations were visited in Egypt where, not only ancient Egyptian monuments could be found, but also Greek and Roman monuments that were influenced by ancient Egyptian designs. The miniterm takes significant amount of preparation to plan the logistics of the trip but good planning makes it run smoothly. To receive an academic credit in this miniterm, participating students are required to keep a journal and to write a paper on a subject of interest that combine the themes of this course. An oral presentation is also required followed by questions. Formal course evaluation of this course shows students’ great satisfaction and appreciation of the opportunity to gain this international experience.

Ghaly, A. (2017, June), Ancient Egypt: A blend of engineering/architecture and history/culture Paper presented at 2017 ASEE International Forum, Columbus , Ohio.

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