Dear Colleagues,

In response to the recent university-wide announcement regarding important changes to campus operations as a result of the impact of COVID-19, I write to inform you of the College of Engineering response and actions required of our community. If you did not see the broader announcement, remember to check Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus website , where campus-wide messages are posted as updates occur. Our primary goal remains to ensure the wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff while delivering on our educational and research missions. As such, we are taking the following measures:
  • Moving Operations Fully Online
  • Updating Research and Labs Protocol
  • Modifying Senior and Freshmen Design
  • Providing Miscellaneous Updates and Resources

Details on each of these areas follows below. There is a lot of information in this email, and I appreciate you taking the time to familiarize yourself with the latest developments as an active and engaged member of CoE.

While our normal routine may be disrupted, together we will navigate our way through the challenges. Already, I have been impressed with how our community has come together to plan, offer suggestions and input, and take action to be sure we maintain as much continuity as possible in our academic and business operations. As events unfold, I will continue to communicate with you.

Again, thank you for your attention and flexibility during this unprecedented time.

Sharon L. Walker, PhD
Dean, College of Engineering

p.s. We will hold a virtual CoE town hall on Monday. Please save the date for 3/16/2020 at 1:00pm. Zoom join information will follow separately.
Moving Operations Fully Online

After discussion with the leadership team, I am announcing that all CoE staff who are not identified as essential technical/laboratory support personnel should move to remote/online operations effective immediately. Shifting our academic and administrative daily activities online will not be without its challenges, but I am confident that working together, we can make this move successfully. Department heads and supervisors should work directly with staff, being flexible and thoughtful about schedules and work-life balance, and completing necessary HR paperwork (for which we have requested a streamlined process). Earlier today, Assistant Dean Meier offered a workshop on best practices for working remotely – tune in for another Zoom session tomorrow, 3/13, at 11:00am . If you do not have the equipment for remote work (reliable laptop or desktop), we have some equipment available for you. If this is the case, please let your supervisor know ASAP.  

Research and Labs Update
Critical research functions will continue while other activities move online. Under the leadership of Wayne Hill, the CoE Technical Operations staff are coordinating a response. Staffing will be minimal, with individuals working on a rotating schedule, but we will do what we can to provide this essential function. Faculty may come in for research purposes, but are strongly encouraged to remain remote as much as possible. Undergraduate students will not have access to laboratories.

Please note: no one should operate in a lab alone ; there must be plans in place for a buddy system should you continue work in your lab. In addition, every lab staff person and graduate student should have a direct discussion with their supervisor regarding plans and expectations. Should a graduate student or laboratory member feel they need to remain remote even if a lab is open, I fully expect you will work together to reach a plan of action agreeable to all parties. Contact Associate Dean Schauer with any questions on this matter.

For lab classes, you may not bring undergraduates into the laboratories. You are encouraged to use existing online resources or you may record videos of demonstrations by faculty or graduate students. Campus has a central task force that can assist you in this effort. If you have questions and would like to connect with these central resources, please reach out to Associate Dean Scoles.

We are working with department heads to collect online licenses for software to take computer lab-based classes online as much as possible, and are currently looking at the associated cost. More to come as we have additional information.

Status of Senior and Freshmen Design

Now that going online is official, I am glad to report that we are getting ready to offer our students the best possible learning experience thanks to the heavy lift Freshman and Senior Design faculty, TAs and many others conducted over the last week.

If you are an instructor in Freshmen Design 113, you will continue to receive updates directly from Director Gurian. Thank you for the creative efforts of many faculty, TAs and support staff for getting a head start in planning this week.

The Senior Design coordinators have been hard at work discussing how to move forward with our seniors. If you are mentoring one of your department’s senior design teams, you will be getting specific instructions from your coordinator soon. However, in the meantime I want to emphasize a few critical points:
·     Students will not be doing any more prototyping, laboratory, or testing work. 
·     Nothing physical is to be asked of the students on these projects. For reasons of safety, they should not be expected or encouraged to work remotely on a physical element of the project. 
·     Moving forward, expectations will all be based on work that can be done at their computer. Also, do not expect students to meet in person; all of their activities must be feasible remotely.
Further guidance will be forthcoming. If you have any questions, speak to your Senior Design coordinator or to Associate Dean Scoles.

Miscellaneous Updates & Resources

  • In my message on Monday, I alluded to some of the volunteers throughout CoE who have put other responsibilities on hold to assist with responding to this rapidly changing situation. I repeat my thanks to them. As we continue to monitor the situation and plan ahead, CoE representatives will continue to participate at all levels in the conversation and on various emergency preparedness committees, including:
  • Academic Technology, Senior Design – Associate Dean Kevin Scoles
  • Communications, Business Services, and Drexel Staff Assembly-Engineering Liaison – Assistant Dean Katie Meier
  • Enrollment and Graduate Education – Associate Dean Kapil Dandekar
  • Freshman Design – Director Patrick Gurian
  • Research – Associate Dean Caroline Schauer
Should you have questions or concerns related to a specific area, please feel
free to reach out to these team members.
  • Work study students will still be paid – they are not losing their financial support.
  • Through the Drexel Staff Assembly-Engineering (DSA-E), all CoE staff have access to a repository of messages and information regarding the college response to COVID-19. Please remember to check the Teams site for updates. We are working to create a Faculty Resource “Course” on Blackboard with the same information. More to come on that as we work with Central IT.
  • University news
  • Drexel Library has announced updates and changes to hours and events
  • Tomorrow, the Graduate College will send out further information to our PhD students, specifically addressing their needs.