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City Center in Milan

Materials Engineering in Milan

Program Details

This mini-term study abroad course will be taught in Milan, Italy, and will focus on the design and manufacturing of bicycles and the rich culture of bicycling in Italy. The course will connect the fundamental concepts of Materials Science and Engineering to bicycle design and manufacturing. Examples and case studies related to these topics are very relevant to the processing, behavior, and design considerations of engineering materials

Europe in general has a culture that is much more welcoming and safer for bike commuters and recreational riders. Italy, and Milan in particular, is an important hub of bicycle culture, history, and manufacturing. Class instruction will occur in the canal district of central Milan on the campus of the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) with half-day trips to bicycle manufacturers and local museums. The Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology has an entire floor dedicated to the history and technology of materials engineering and is of particular interest.

Full-day trips are planned to view the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) multi-stage bike race and to nearby, scenic Lake Como where students can choose to ride bicycles in the Pian di Spagna nature reserve or take a boat tour of the lake. These activities will give students opportunities to experience European bicycle culture and enhance our classroom and site visit discussions about the importance of materials considerations to design and manufacturing of bicycles. Other potential sites of interest in Milan include the Santa Maria delle Grazie church (site of The Last Supper fresco), the Brera art gallery, the Duomo (Milan Cathedral), Sforza Castle, and The Royal Palace. Students will have a 72-hour weekend to explore other cities in the region if they so choose. Rome, Florence, and Venice are two to three hours by train.

Lake Como


Students will receive credit for MSE 201: Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering (3 credit hours) which is the first (and for many, the only) materials science and engineering course that UT engineering students complete. The objectives of the course are to introduce the concepts of materials processing, structure, and properties and to understand the correlations that exist among them. MSE 201 is required for the following BS programs in the Tickle College of Engineering: Aerospace, Biomedical, Industrial, Materials, Mechanical, and Nuclear.

Duomo Statue in Milan


Students will stay in apartments in the Navigli canal district within easy walking distance to NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti) for classroom instruction. The apartments house two to four students, and include kitchens, dining tables, desks, wardrobes for storage, and either a small clothes washer or central laundry in the building. The Navigli district is known for restaurants and cafés (including a large number offering international cuisine), parks, and open-air farmers markets. There is ready access to both the Metro (subway) and trams (electric street cars) for convenient access to center city, train stations, and other areas of the city.

Navigli Canal District


The Milan ATM transit system is very extensive and easy to use to get around the city. It includes three main subway lines and many tram (electric street car) and bus lines. Stops/stations are well marked with signs that indicate subsequent stops. A monthly pass is valid on all three modes.

Bicycle-Related Activities

Please note that all activities that involve cycling are optional and will occur in your free time if you so choose.

  • Giro d’Italia – day trip to see one stage of the “Tour of Italy” multi-stage bike race. Details will be confirmed after the Giro schedule is announced in October 2016.
  • Lake Como – day trip to nearby resort area. Participants can ride bikes through the Pian di Spagna nature reserve or take a boat tour of the lake. We will visit the Museo del Ciclismo Madonna del Ghisallo on the way back to Milan.
  • Cyclopride – 2 day festival in mid-May promoting bicycle culture and safety. Features a 20km group bike ride around the city center with police escort. Bikes rentals available.
  • Critical Mass – weekly group ride (10PM each Thursday) through city center. Route closed to motorized vehicles.
  • BikeMi – Rent a bike from Milan’s bike sharing service which features 3,60 traditional bicycles, 1,000 e-bikes, and over 250 rental/return stations.

Program Requirements:

  • Sophomore level or higher by program start date
  • Prerequisites: CHEM 120
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75


Kevin Kit
MSE Associate Professor and Director of Engineering Honors