Greetings UMass Engineering Community,
It is with mindfulness and hope that I welcome you to Fall 2020. It is the start of a new academic year, a time of new beginnings. Normally campus would be abuzz as we welcome friends and colleagues, old and new, and kick-off classes — but this is a semester like no other.
We are living through an incredibly challenging period in history. The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly changed our lives. And as a nation we are facing a struggling economy and a call to action for racial and social justice sparked by the killing of George Floyd and too many others over the years. Yet in spite of these challenges, but also informed by them, we are committed to pushing forward as UMass Engineers, advancing knowledge to help build a better, fairer, more just world.
Students, we know you want to learn, engage in hands-on experiences, and just be together on campus — all of you. But, this pandemic is proving hard to control. So while we wait for the return of our vibrant community, let’s commit to keeping our distance, closely monitor for COVD-19 symptoms, and protect each other by wearing masks where required. I am hopeful that if we remain vigilant today, we can come together closer and stronger in the very near future.
Staff and faculty, your lives and work have also been disrupted. Thank you for carrying on, despite all of the day-to-day pressures and obstacles, and for your thoughtful support of our students. We really are all in this together.
UMass Engineering is known for its high-quality education and we will deliver again this fall — whether it is remote, hybrid, or in-person. For those joining remotely, it goes without saying that while comfortable, home isn’t the best place from which to participate in a rigorous engineering class — for either the professor or the student. This isn’t easy, but let’s make the best of it.
Over the summer, our world-class engineering faculty have worked diligently to adapt their courses with a focus on engagement, content delivery, and flexible assessments and exams. They have also been busy carrying on with their research and mentorship of graduate students and research fellows. Some notable highlights include a NSF project to create ultra-low-power electronic components based on biological electrical systems and the development of bio-inspired membranes to capture COVID-19 airborne droplets. A number of our faculty members have received well-deserved promotions, awards, and recognitions from both within UMass, and from external organizations. Seven of our young faculty won prestigious young early career awards from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the government of Korea. We look forward to sharing more good news with you as we progress through the semester.
Beyond the labs and classroom, there is also the social part of college. More than ever, we must remain engaged and connected. To kick it off, our student engineering societies, project teams, and academic departments have been busy reimagining our traditional Welcome Back Tent as a virtual event for September 17th. We will also be hosting Allies for Equity discussion groups to explore ways to nurture an equitable and an inclusive climate for underrepresented individuals in the college. And our virtual Engineering Career Fair will be held October 1st. Mark your calendars; details will follow via email, the web, and Instagram.
Finally, a special shout-out to those newly joining us — welcome to the Engineering family! And to our international students, we are so glad you will be contributing to our community this fall and if you have not been able to travel to campus yet, we look forward to your arrival in the near future.
To our on-campus engineering community members, please know that your peers are depending on you to follow the stringent public safety guidelines, with the hope and anticipation that we may all return sooner.
Welcome to the Class of 2024, our new graduate students, faculty and staff, and I look forward to that day when we can all convene safely on campus together again.
Stay safe and in good health, everyone.
Dean, College of Engineering
University of Massachusetts Amherst