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From the Dean

Dr. Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering

Welcome to the fall 2020 issue of NC State Engineering magazine.

Much has happened since I shared my thoughts with you in late March in our spring issue. Then, all of us on campus were hopeful that we would return to a normal fall semester, with first-year students finding their way around and our classrooms and laboratories humming with the kinds of interactions that are such a core part of what makes an academic setting so wonderful.

Unfortunately, and despite the best efforts of our University leadership and community, we continue to find our beautiful campus lacking the in-person activity we all would have desired to have seen by this time. NC State spent the summer preparing for a safe reopening of classrooms and dormitories in August, but after two weeks and a significant amount of COVID-19 spread among the student body, Chancellor Randy Woodson made the difficult, albeit necessary, decision to move undergraduate classes online and have most students who were living on campus leave.

The good news, however, is that despite these difficult circumstances, our COE faculty and staff have risen to the challenge and have been able to provide our students with the educational and research continuity needed to assure their academic progression and success. Our faculty continues to excel at online teaching and most of our research laboratories are operational. The University has also announced plans to bring more students back for in-person instruction during the spring semester if possible.

We received more good news in July, when our College and University took possession of Fitts-Woolard Hall. The opening of our newest state-of-the-art engineering building represents a major milestone toward unifying the College on Centennial Campus. As you read more about the new building in these pages, please consider helping us close the $12M fundraising gap we still have for this vital project.

The last few months have also seen a nationwide reckoning regarding the social and systemic inequities that members of our African-American and minority communities continue to face on a daily basis in our nation. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others have sparked protests and much-needed conversations and actions around this topic. These events have inspired us to work even harder to ensure that your College is a place that is welcoming to all and we will be sharing some of our efforts to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in this issue as well.

Finally, it is important to note that the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and our social inequities have also brought out the very best in our faculty, staff and students. I have never been prouder of their dedication and commitment nor have I ever been prouder to be a part of NC State and the College of Engineering. I am confident that the research, teaching and service work that is at the core of our mission, which continues, albeit in a different way, will return at full steam once we know that it is safe for our campus community to reopen.

Take care, stay safe and thank you all for your continued support especially during these difficult times. I look forward to seeing you again on campus as soon as possible and encourage you to stay in touch with us until then.

Return to contents or download the Fall/Winter 2020 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, MB).

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