Some Information about
West Central Indiana and Student Life Therein
Geography, and Geology
The "Balanced Student"
A lot of folks from all over the U.S. and even other countries consider Rose-Hulman for their education. We thought a little information about the region might be helpful to you. The following gives you some information from a civil engineer's perspective. There are also some comments later about extracurricular opportunities in the area and we've provided some useful links to regional web sites that you may also find helpful.
Location, Geography, and
We should first give you some sense of where we are in the midwest U.S. The red star in the image at right (courtesy of MapQuest.com) is Terre Haute, Indiana, home of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Terre Haute is 75 miles west of Indianapolis, and roughly 2-1/2 hours south of Chicago, west of Cincinnati, and east of St. Louis.
Terre Haute is a city of about 70,000. It is the regional center for west central Indiana and east central Illinois. Often referred to as the "Crossroads of America." Major east-west routes include U.S. 40, once known as the "National Road" and original east-west U.S. highway from the east coast to the Mississippi River valley, and also U.S. Interstate Highway 70. These are shown on the aerial photo at right (courtesy of terraserver.microsoft.com). A major north-south route prior to the interstate highway system was U.S. 41, which extends from Copper Harbor, Michigan, through Green Bay, Minneapolis, Chicago, Terre Haute (a bustling metropolis in its own right, eh?), and on to Nashville, Atlanta, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and finally Miami. Although U.S. 41 has been superceded as a major north-south route by the interstate highways U.S. 75 and 65 to the east and U.S. 57 to the west, it is still a convenient route to Chicago and Nashville from Terre Haute. U.S. 41 is the highway visible running north-south through downtown Terre Haute in the photo. For rail buffs, Terre Haute also sees plenty of rail traffic. Terre Haute is reportedly the second busiest railway terminal in the U.S., second only to Chicago. Terre Haute features a number of large manufacturing facilities, and is also the home of Rose-Hulman Ventures, an entrepreneurial outreach effort between Rose-Hulman and startup firms looking to get a foothold in a rapidly changing technological world.
Terre Haute is the home city of Rose-Hulman, Indiana State University, and St. Mary of the Woods College, all shown in the aerial photo. The presence of these three schools gives the town something of a college town atmosphere. However, there is also considerable industry in Terre Haute, one reason why Rose Polytechnic Institute was founded here by Chauncey Rose in 1874. Terre Haute is the county seat of Vigo County, Indiana.
Terre Haute means "high ground" in French. The city was
founded on an area of higher ground along the east banks of the Wabash River,
seen in the aerial photo. The topography includes the broad Wabash River valley
west of campus, rolling uplands in the campus area, and moderately rolling
farmland in the surrounding area. South and east of Terre Haute, the
topography becomes more rugged, with some exceptional hills and valleys ideal
for hiking, mountain biking, or just driving around enjoying the scenery.
Over the years, the town has been populated by coal miners, railroad workers,
builders of the National Road, and other heavy industry employees. The Wabash
and Erie Canal system ran through Terre Haute in the mid 1800's and there is
still visual evidence of parts of the canal today. In fact, some of our civil
engineering students have participated in projects restoring or re-utilizing the
historic features of the region, including the canal, rails-to-trails greenways,
restoration of some historic "Hometown U.S.A." type communities, and restoration
of historic buildings, mills and covered bridges in the region.
The geology of the Terre Haute region is interesting and can be challenging for civil engineers. A soil map of the county, provided by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, is shown above at left, and a geologic map, provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and Indiana Geological Survey, is shown at right above. The Wabash River valley, west of the campus and indicated by the yellow and light blue zones in the figure on the left, features alluvial soils and a shallower ground water table that present some slightly increased challenge for civil engineers designing structures in that area. Geologists theorize that Vigo County corresponds to to the southern limit of the advance of glacial ice during two major glacial ice ages. Thus, the soils throughout Vigo County are a combination of silts deposited by the winds along the ice front, glacial outwash soils due to meltwater flushing out from the melting ice, glacial till soils compacted under the heavy ice weight, sand dunes, and soft glacial lake deposits. The combination of very dense soils in some areas and loose and soft soils in other areas can make it difficult to design structures spanning from one soil type to another. This is sometimes a challenge even on the Rose-Hulman campus when a new building extends from the denser glacial tills and glacial outwash soils out over the alluvial soils in the Lost Creek flood plain, which crosses campus from east to west. The topography of the Rose campus is shown at right.
The "Balanced Student"
So what about the activities outside of school work? From the faculty's perspective, we are concerned first about our students' well-being and the support structure they have to help them cope with their heavy work load. We believe that "balanced" students should be strong in four ways: physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially.
The mental strength comes both from the rigor required to make it through the program, but is supplemented by a strong support structure in our Learning Center and by our faculty working with students who are beginning to develop good learning habits. Our elective classes in Humanities and Social Sciences play a big part in rounding out our students' education.
From the spiritual perspective, there is a wide variety
of religious organizations on campus and in the surrounding community to help
our students remain centered and connected to a lifeline. We hope our
students do not underestimate the importance of this part of their lives.
Physically, Rose-Hulman has exceptional athletic facilities for its students. These are arguably the best in any Division III program in the U.S. and better than most Division I and Division II programs. The Sports and Recreation Center, shown at right, is an outstanding facility completed in 1998. The intramurals at Rose-Hulman are a big part of our students' lives, with over 80% of the student body involved in the program. In addition, intercollegiate athletics at the Division III level and at Rose-Hulman in particular opens up opportunities for our students who never even remotely considered intercollegiate competition. It is not unusual to have students competing on the intercollegiate level in a sport they were not even active with in high school. There are also exceptional golf courses (Hulman Links, for example, has been ranked as one of America's 75 best public courses), good road cycling and mountain bike opportunities, a recreation trail system that is currently under construction from Rose-Hulman to Indiana State University and through Terre Haute, and an exceptional collection of city parks, including Hawthorne Park adjacent to campus and featuring fine hiking/running trails and fishing lakes.
Socially, there is the ever-predictable suite of restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, and gathering spots throughout the Terre Haute area. The colleges also feature a variety of concerts, musical productions, a wide variety of sporting events associated with the three colleges, and similar college student entertainment opportunities. A short drive away is Parke County, home of over 30 authentic covered bridges and numerous quaint country villages. Also within an easy drive are Shakamak State Park, Turkey Run State Park, McCormicks Creek State Park, and Brown County State Parks, all sources of exceptional hiking, canoeing, cycling, fishing and camping. Finally, its an easy 1-1/2 hour drive to Indianapolis for professional sporting events, concerts, extensive bike/pedestrian trail greenways, and of course a variety of auto racing events. For students on big-city campuses, a 1-1/2 hour trip across town to an event is not unusual, and St. Louis, Chicago, and Cincinnati are an easy 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive from campus for weekend events.
We could go on and on, but instead, here are a few useful links: