Signals – Spring 2020

Note from the department head

Dear alumni and friends,

As we near the end of the semester, we look back on the last seven weeks when we’ve had to quickly transition to remote teaching and research due to COVID-19. This rapid shift has demanded extra work, perseverance, and patience from almost all of our nearly 1,000 ECE students, staff, and faculty.

With the exception of efforts devoted to COVID-19 detection (read about one of them below), the crisis has required hibernation of our ECE research and teaching laboratories. Fortunately, our computational efforts, frequently using computers running unattended in Keller Hall, can continue largely unaffected. In contrast, our experimental efforts have shifted to long-deferred paper writing and literature searches. This week, the University begins planning for safely opening some its research labs in the coming weeks. While it will not be business as usual for a while, we look forward to getting back in the lab.

On the academic front, we pivoted to online instruction. One of our stories below presents observations and lessons learned from a faculty perspective. The successful transfer of knowledge within remote learning can definitely be accomplished, but it requires innovative approaches to the subject matter by both instructor and student. As Professors Jim Leger and David Orser point out, online labs can end up being simply different.

For some lab courses, we have shipped components and test equipment to students so they could continue the learning that would normally occur on campus facilities. We are paying for this remote learning with the Hartig Fund, to which many of you have donated, and we are grateful for your sustained support.

If you are in a position to help replenish the Hartig Fund, please consider donating on our ECE giving web page.

With this, I will close. I sincerely hope that you and your family remain healthy and that the economic disruption does not affect you too severely. We wish you strength and courage as we face this global challenge.


Randall Victora