FORCES is pleased to announce our newest outreach enterprise: TOURS de FORCES (pun intended). The program provides travel-to-learn opportunities for Purdue friends and family, while supporting the university’s academic and research missions, and student fellowships and scholarships. 

Conceived and organized by FORCES Operations Officer and Outreach Director Rob Kirchubel, PhD, TOURS de FORCES enables you to join us as we visit sites of historical significance, especially touching on the twin, and often intersecting, subjects of military history and technology. Tours will visit locations that are sure to captivate anyone interested in these topics. Led by Purdue faculty, staff, and external subject matter experts of national and international renown, each tour will combine learning and fun, and last from a couple of days to two weeks.  

Specific details will depend on the state of COVID-19 and the locales we intend to visit. Travel, accommodations, meals, guides, and fees are covered by the cost of the selected tour. Specific information and detailed tour itineraries will appear as departure dates approach. Most days we will stop at two or three points of interest, with evenings free; longer tours include one or more unstructured days as well. A critical feature of TOURS de FORCES is that a part of the cost will help fund Purdue’s academic and research missions, the work of FORCES, and student fellowships and scholarships.

For more information see details of current itineraries, below, or contact 


"Entry Level WWI:" The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Jan.12-15, 2021
Duration: Three days, excluding travel to/from New Orleans 
Guides: Purdue Distinguished Professor of History Randy Roberts and Rob Kirchubel, PhD.
Main activities: Classroom lecture/discussion, visit exhibits, hands-on experiences, enjoy New Orleans

Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, changed the war from separate European and Asian theaters, and made it truly worldwide. America began as the “Arsenal of Democracy,” and this was arguably our greatest contribution to the United Nations war effort. But we also sent men and women all around the globe to fight and die against fascism and militarism. After some dark days, eventually the trajectory led inexorably towards victory. World War Two Museum, New Orleans

What began in New Orleans’ business district as the National D-Day Museum, now honors the entire American wartime experience. From Jan. 13-15, Purdue Distinguished Professor Randy Roberts, an award-winning author and historian who is renowned for his teaching and mentoring, and WWII scholar Rob Kirchubel from FORCES, will lead the tour, augmented by the museum’s excellent staff. This TOURS de FORCES trip will devote one day each to the home, European and Pacific fronts. Guests will be treated to special hands-on experiences and behind-the-scenes access. You'll stay in the museum's official hotel, the beautiful Higgins Hotel, experience a rivertour on the Mississippi River to the historic Chalmette Battlefield, and except for Jan. 14, enjoy afternoons and evenings exploring the Big Easy on your own.

Boiler Quiz: At the end of the tour, each guest can decide where America’s greatest contribution lies: in the halls of power, the factory floor, or on land, at sea or in the air?


"America – and Purdue – in Space:" Florida’s Space Coast, Feb.8-10, 2021
Duration: Three days, excluding travel to/from Florida
Guides: Rob Kirchubel, PhD, and PhD candidates Geoffrey Andrews and Justin Mansell
Main activities: Classroom lecture/discussion, visit exhibits, hands-on experiences, stargazing, enjoy coastal Florida

Leaving earth, humans going to the moon and beyond, is a massive accomplishment. Both Purdue and Florida’s Cape Canaveral area played critical roles in these efforts. Grabbing the headlines: 25 Boilermaker astronauts span the Mercury capsule through the Space Shuttle programs, led, of course, by Neil Armstrong. Countless other Purdue graduates have labored—and still labor—behind the scenes to make it all possible. Florida's Cape Canaveral

In early February, with a special nod to snowbirds and others who find themselves in Florida during winter, TOURS de FORCES will spend three days examining America’s history-making and world-leading space program. FORCES’ Rob Kirchubel and experts from Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, local guides, and at least one Purdue astronaut will take guests to the Kennedy Space Center, the historic Apollo and Space Shuttle Complexes, and today’s Space X and Blue Origins facilities. Also scheduled: nighttime stargazing at the University of Central Florida’s nearby Robinson Observatory. Evenings can include stops at astronaut “watering holes,” and gentle sea breezes.

Boiler Quiz: What brought together West Lafayette and Cape Canaveral?


"Machines of War:" Britain and France,  May 8-22, 2021
Duration: Two weeks, excluding travel to/from London
Guides: Purdue Distinguished Professor of History Randy Roberts and Robert Kirchubel, PhD
Main activities: Visit battlefields, museums and other world war sites, hands on experiences, ride ferry across the English Channel, enjoy London, Paris, and other British and French locales 

During the 20th century, the two world wars were “total wars,” consuming almost all of a nation’s resources. When WWI began in 1914, airplanes were primitive, by 1918 they were highly specialized, by 1945 they flew in the jet stream and dropped atomic bombs. Developments in armored vehicles, code breaking, fortifications, landing craft, radar, warships, and countless other technologies kept pace. Second only the human element, the machinery of war made the difference.Normandy cemeteries

During this two-week trip to Europe, TOURS de FORCES will visit southern UK and northern France. Among other sites, guests will see a Battle of Britain RAF airfield, D-Day landing areas, a Maginot Line Fort, and scene of the Blitzkrieg’s greatest success. Enjoy a nighttime ferry ride from Portsmouth, England and wake up in Caen, France. Take optional trips to the Imperial War Museum and Musee de l’Armee, or instead explore London and Paris on unstructured days. Leading the tour: Purdue Distinguished Professor Randy Roberts, an award-winning author and historian who is renowned for his teaching and mentoring, and WWII scholar Rob Kirchubel from FORCES, joined by a cast of local experts. 

Boiler Quiz: During this tour, how many “revolutions” in military affairs can you spot, where in a certain technology, one side has the upper hand, then the other side, then back to the first…?


"Revolutionary Turning Points:" Northeast United States, June 20-26, 2021
Duration: Seven to eight days, excluding travel to/from Boston
Guides: Purdue Assistant Professor of History T. Cole Jones and Robert Kirchubel, PhD 
Main activities: Visit battlefields, museums and other Revolutionary War sites, hands on experiences, enjoy Boston, Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, and many other east coast locales along the way

The birth of the United States was not easy; the American colonists wanted to set out on their own course, but England did not want to let them go. Relatively untrained, poorly equipped, and unevenly led militias, with some critical French assistance, went up against the professional British military and its German allies. Like many wars, the American Revolution was not a sprint, but a marathon; which side would cross the finish line? Between Ontario and the Carolinas, George Washington and the Yanks lost many battles, but they won the ones they had to. Revolutionary War Monument

TOURS de FORCES will take a week to explore and learn about key turning points during the Revolutionary War. Purdue Assistant Professor Cole Jones, author of "Captives of Liberty: Prisoners of War and the Radicalization of the American Revolution," FORCES’ own Rob Kirchubel, and a selection of outstanding scholars and local guides will untangle the conflict. We will visit Boston and Lexington/Concord, MA; Saratoga and West Point, NY; Trenton, NJ, Philadelphia and Valley Forge, PA and then conclude at Yorktown, VA. Tour includes an unstructured day in Washington, D.C., with an optional excursion to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate.

Boiler Quiz: Although seemingly overshadowed by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, did George Washington really earn the honor “father of his country?”


"America Threatened as Never before…or Since:" Greater Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA, Sept. 17-25, 2021 
Duration: Seven to eight days, excluding travel to/from Washington, D.C
Guides: Robert Kirchubel, PhD; Penn State History Professor Carol Reardon;  American Historian A. Wilson Greene; and Robert Kirchubel, PhD
Main activities: Visit battlefields, museums and other Civil War sites, hands on experiences, enjoy Washington, D.C., and other nearby attractions 

Regardless of ancestry or heritage or arrival date, the Civil War is an essential element in every American’s history. Abraham Lincoln warned that America could not be conquered from the outside, only from the inside, and by 1860 this seemed to be coming true. All the growing tensions of the day had an impact: federal vs state power, industrial vs agrarian economies, slave vs abolitionist morality. The survival of the United States, then barely 80 years old, depended on a few leaders and a few battles. Gettysburg canon

For one week, TOURS De FORCES will study critical battles and events within a couple of hours’ coach ride from Washington, D.C. Rob Kirchubel from FORCES and a pair of nationally known experts will lead this examination of the action around the capitals of the two warring parties, less than 100 miles apart. We will spend one day each at Antietam, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Appomattox, VA. We will also visit the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, VA. There will also be an unstructured day in Washington, D.C., with an optional “Mr. Lincoln’s Washington” excursion. 

Boiler Quiz: While all of these battles were critical, not all of them were decisive. What makes the difference and why?

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