Dear Michigan Engineering students:
Depending on how you are counting, it has been approximately 100 days since most of you left town en masse to continue your work from home. It was a rapid development, and one that was necessary both to keep you safe and flatten the curve of COVID-19 here in Michigan. I hope you are now all enjoying warmer weather and summer activities, wherever your current residence may be.
I am beyond thrilled to be able to join President Mark S. Schlissel in announcing that we will be welcoming you back to campus this fall for a public health-informed in-residence semester. This will be a mixture of in-person and remote experiences designed to provide our transformative Michigan Engineering education, while reflecting our commitment to promoting public health.
Equipped with the very best guidance and ideas from our leading scholars, innovative students and expert staff, we will be able to welcome you to the Ann Arbor campus, classrooms and residence halls. We cannot wait to see you studying in the Dude, working with your student teams in the Wilson Center and flying drones in the new Ford Motor Company Robotics Building!
We recognize not all of you will be able to or desire to return to Ann Arbor. For this reason, we will be providing you the option of choosing whether to come to campus for a hybrid learning experience, or study from home in a fully remote mode. In either scenario, we will provide high-quality instruction for our undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.
It will, of course, look and feel very different here on campus. Many new protocols and strategies will be in place to keep our community safe. Within Engineering, we will be asking that each person join in sensible health and safety actions that will embody our values – and a commitment to caring for one another through inclusivity and collegiality.
I am pleased to say that, here in Engineering, we have been busy over the summer, and have successfully resumed the bulk of our experimental research activities. This gives me great confidence in our ability to welcome you back in the fall in a safe and inclusive environment.
The University’s Maize and Blueprint website provides comprehensive information about the implementation plan, guiding principles and current status. It will be updated regularly as more details are finalized. The College’s COVID website is also updated regularly to provide engineering-specific information.
Here are some of the key highlights:
- A modified academic calendar, reducing travel and leaving a longer winter break;
- A mixture of in-person and remote instruction, with large lectures likely to be remote while labs and design classes endeavor to be delivered in-person;
- Multiple layers of safeguards simultaneously that will combine to form a “stackable” set of interwoven interventions to keep members of our community safe;
- A starter kit for every student that includes hand sanitizer and face coverings;
- Access to our University Health Service (UHS) and world-class health system, Michigan Medicine;
- Dedicated living spaces available to care for anyone who may have been diagnosed or have significant exposures to others diagnosed with COVID-19 while on campus; and
- Access to those extracurricular and community-building activities that make your Michigan experience unique, such as recreational sports, student group activities, performances and other socially enriching experiences across campus.
Although the University’s plans are comprehensive, there are still many details to be worked out. You are likely to have more questions, and I can assure you that the College is working diligently with University officials and our own COVID Action Teams to develop those answers.
Work currently underway in Engineering includes:
- Our Continuity of Education committee is ensuring a mix of high-quality and safe educational experiences in Engineering by evaluating classroom sizes and specific course needs.
- Our academic programs and faculty members are designing each of their classes to provide the best mix of remote and in-person activities.
- Our Return to Operations committee is working with unit and department leadership to develop customized plans for staffing to ensure quality student-facing services.
We will continue to update you with all the information we have, as we have it. You can expect to receive a follow-up email from Michigan Engineering leaders over the course of the coming weeks. We welcome your feedback or questions here, and encourage you to use the College’s COVID website as a resource.
As engineers, we do not turn away in the face of a challenge. Our responsibility – to both our community and the greater worldwide society – is to tackle the “wicked problems” and find solutions. It is because of this that I have every confidence in our ability as a Michigan Engineering community to come together for an innovative, in-person fall 2020. This will require a shared commitment to living our values, and each of us taking responsibility to be safe and protect our community through our actions.
I want to stress, though, that major changes could mean a need to adjust parts of our plan. We will continue to monitor the conditions of COVID-19, and remain agile and ready to adapt as circumstances change. I ask for your continued resilience and patience as we work through the details.
I look forward to seeing you in August.
Take care and, as always, Go Blue!