The spring 2020 semester we’ve just concluded is one that none of us will ever forget. So many of the in-person activities and events, such as our spring commencement and awards ceremonies, research in our labs and collaborative education in our classrooms, that make the student and faculty experience in our College of Engineering special didn’t happen. Nonetheless, thanks to the outstanding efforts of our faculty and staff, our graduating students were able to complete their academic requirements and many of our students were offered virtual celebrations that memorialized their achievements and resilience of our COE class of 2020.
As we look forward to the summer, things will mostly continue in the same fashion. Summer school will take place online and our engineering camps may become virtual. As the state of North Carolina and the UNC System work through the best way to gradually reopen, some faculty and staff members may begin to return to campus and some laboratories may begin to reopen.
As Chancellor Woodson has stated, NC State is making plans to welcome students back to campus in the fall, though on-campus activity will probably look a lot different than it did just a few short months ago. While the form of this activity will become clearer over time, any steps that we take will be accompanied by measures to assure that the safety of our faculty, staff and students will be protected as much as possible.
A very positive note is that throughout this COVID-19 situation work has continued on the new Fitts-Woolard Hall. We still expect construction on the building to be completed this summer followed by a gradual move-in throughout the fall semester.
I am very proud of the ways in which our College of Engineering has responded to this crisis. Our faculty members switched quickly to online learning and have worked diligently with students to ensure that transition was as smooth as could be expected. Local frontline healthcare workers put out a call for help with personal protective equipment (PPE) and our faculty and staff members and students answered with donations of existing PPE and by quickly devising ways to manufacture more. And most of our educational continuity has assured that our graduating seniors have completed their degree requirements and can continue to move on to the next steps in their lives and careers.
As we move forward in this new reality, student success will continue to be the College’s number one priority. We will continue to do everything we can to achieve this goal while doing our best to keep our NC State Engineering community safe and healthy.
Louis Martin-Vega, Ph.D.
Dean of Engineering