Milan: University and Museum Visit

Today was another beautiful day in Milan. We started by taking the metro to the Cattolica University. Since both Cattolica and Pitt are in cities it was interesting to make comparisons between the two. Cattolica had much older looking architecture as well as many beautiful statues on the campus. Overall it seemed the buildings were smaller than those at Pitt. Our guide told us that around 40,000 students attend the university, which was shocking to me since it did not seem that large. A lot of emphasis was put on the international program at the school as many classes are available to foreign students taught entirely in English. Studying there for a semester seems likes it would be an awesome experience. However, the university does not have a engineering program so it is not much of an option for me.

The lecture we attended on the fashion industry added a lot to what we had studied in our predeparture meetings. The main focus was adapting the supply chains in the industry to a make them more environmentally friendly. One thing that I found interesting was the contrast between cotton and polyester as clothing materials. Cotton can only be recycled to a small extent since it looks its strength over time while polyester can theoretically be recycled forever. When disposed of improperly polyester has a much greater negative impact on the environment, while cotton products, like jeans, take a massive amount of water to produce. Companies, like Patagonia, are starting to build there business model around the potential in recycling materials like polyester. This could potentially become a mainstream practice that benefits the environment and the companies bottom line.

Our final tour of the day was at a large museum displaying the works of Leonardo Da Vinci as well as modern feats of engineering. Seeing the models of Da Vinci’s notes brought to life showed just how ahead of his time he was. I was surprised at the scale of some the modern exhibits there, for example the massive sailboat, a section of a boat similar to the titanic, an entire submarine, and a gigantic telescope used to view Mars in great detail for the first time. However one of my favorite things was a miniscule piece of rock from the moon gifted to Italy by Nixon. Overall my favorite exhibit was that of the Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests. They are large creatures made entirely of plastic and canvas that use wind power and hydraulics to walk. Some were even able to survive on beaches for months on there own. I learned about them senior year of high school but always felt skeptical of them because the seemed to impossible to be true. Seeing them in person removed and skepticism I held. They are a beautiful example of artistic engineering but it will be interesting to see if a practical purpose is ever found for them.

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