Purdue students participate in ROTC, West Point visit to Gettysburg Battlefield

February 26, 2015  


ROTC Gettysburg

Purdue University students are joining U.S. Military Academy cadets and Purdue ROTC personnel in a first-of-a-kind staff ride to Gettysburg National Military Park on March 6-8. The Purdue course is led by Nicholas Michael Sambaluk, an assistant professor of practice in military science and technology at Purdue and the Army Cyber Institute at the U.S. Military Academy. Sambaluk is pictured in civilian clothes during a 2013 U.S. Military Academy staff ride as the group retraces Pickett's Charge. (Photo provided by Nicholas Sambaluk)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University students are joining U.S. Military Academy cadets and Purdue ROTC personnel in a first-of-a-kind staff ride to Gettysburg National Military Park.

On March 6-8, eight Purdue students from the "Technology, Innovation and the U. S. Civil War" online class will join eight Purdue ROTC students for a staff ride to Gettysburg National Military Park. The site visit also is in partnership with 25 West Point cadets from the U.S. Military Academy. The participating Purdue students are from engineering, agriculture, science and liberal arts.

"Battlefield tours are often passive as visitors listen to a tour guide, but in a staff ride students take on an active role to understand the decision making and strategy," said Nicholas Michael Sambaluk, an assistant professor of practice in military science and technology at Purdue and the Army Cyber Institute at the U.S. Military Academy. "Each student researches a specific commander, his unit and their role in the battle so while on site, the students can explain the strategy of the commander as he or she walks the battlefield. Students are able to understand combat and command through on-the-terrain analysis that you just can't experience even from the best written history books."

Staff rides are part of officer education, and Sambaluk said it is not common for non-ROTC university students to participate. This course is sponsored by the Purdue Foundry and Purdue's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Sambaluk's Purdue appointment is with the College of Technology and College of Engineering, and the course is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Technology.

 "We are interested in teaching students about innovation by turning to the history of leadership and product development," said Cliff Wojtalewicz, managing director for Burton D Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. "For example, innovations realized during World War II were unprecedented, as well as the commercialization sparked by that innovation."

Students on the staff ride will study the military's weaponry and how some units may have had an advantage with newer guns that could reload faster than most on the field. They also will sample modern military meals, as well as meals that represent what Civil War soldiers consumed to understand developments in food technology. During the visit the students will be staying in the National Guard facilities in the vicinity of the battlefield.  

In the fall, Sambaluk will offer a course on "20th Century Military History." 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Cliff Wojtalewicz, cliffw@purdue.edu

Nicholas Michael Sambaluk, Nicholas.Sambaluk@usma.edu 

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