About HES

Mission Statement of the HES

The Historical Engineering Society’s mission is to promote living history, to research historical engineering methods, to advance students’ collaboration and research skills, and to foster collaborations with the local community for the purpose of education and outreach.

How the Project Started

During Dr. Roger Martinez’s fall 2010 course, HIST 1020: The Medieval World, one of the thematic areas he touched upon in his lectures and readings was the development of medieval weaponry, specifically the trebuchet. To illustrate medieval advancements in science, experimentation, and cross-cultural diffusion, Dr. Martinez presented students with materials from Lynn White, Jr.’s influential text, Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962), as well as showed film clips from NOVA’s Medieval Siege. After discussions with several students, especially Mr. Jeremy Rivera, it became apparent to Dr. Martinez that many students were interested in reconstructing a trebuchet so that they could explore the historical and engineering issues that medieval peoples encountered as they designed and developed these siege engines.  Recognizing the pedagogical value of energizing students and faculty around a historical reconstruction project, Dr. Martinez (History) and Dr. Calvisi (MAE) initiated a series of informational meetings (late fall 2010 and winter 2011) to gauge student interest, as well as to develop a process for developing a trebuchet.  These initial meetings attracted approximately 15 to 20 students and five faculty members’ interest, and initiated the creation of the UCCS Historical Engineering Society (HES). Since these initial meetings, the HES team has methodically researched designs and developed a safe design for a reproduction trebuchet.

Currently (fall 2012), Dr. Martinez is teaching his upper-division history course, HIST 4150: Astrolabes, Arms, and Azulejos: Medieval Science, Technology, and Material Culture at UCCS. The course enrollees will be participating in the trebuchet project.

The Goals of the Project

After collecting information on the full extent of student and faculty commitment to the project, the participating faculty, students, and staff established the following primary goals of the project:

  • To build a historically-accurate model of a medieval trebuchet.
  • To expose participating students, faculty, and staff to medieval history.
  • To hone participating students’ historical research and evaluation skills through the study of primary and secondary sources that discuss and depict trebuchet.
  • To promote participating students’ understanding of the nature of cross-cultural diffusion of technology during the medieval era.
  • To allow participating students and faculty to explore medieval engineering and construction techniques.
  • To foster participating students’ leadership and long-term planning and development skills.
  • To provide participating students with an opportunity to enhance their writing and speaking skills via the preparation and delivery of written work products and oral presentations.
  • To promote university camaraderie through the development and exposition of a working trebuchet.

Collectively, we believe these goals will enhance students’ intellectual and professional training, while offering all participants a unique opportunity to explore medieval history in a very tangible manner.


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