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Welcome to Spring Semester 2021! A message from Dean Raman

UMass Amherst College of Engineering wordmark


February 2021

Greetings to our Engineering community,

Welcome to the spring 2021 semester! I hope you found time to relax and recharge over the winter break and that you remain safe and healthy.

Your perseverance and resilience since the global pandemic upended our lives and campus nearly one year ago is remarkable. I applaud our students and faculty for successfully facing the challenges of teaching and learning from afar. I am also grateful to our staff for their continued efforts to remotely support our community. It hasn’t been easy and I am proud of all of you.

While the transition back to our fully vibrant campus will take time, it is gratifying to welcome back a larger contingent of students to campus. Of course, I share your disappointment that many classes must still be delivered remotely. But, with the arrival of effective vaccines, a path towards normal is emerging and we are all encouraged about the future.

As with the fall, we are delivering a significant number of face-to-face classes, including labs and capstone design projects, under stringent public health protocols. Our research enterprise is operational and there are number of exciting projects occurring. For example, Sarah Perry of ChemE is working on an NIH-funded effort to eliminate vaccine refrigeration requirements. And Matt Lackner of MIE is the principal investigator on a new $6.3 million NSF funded interdisciplinary program called ELEVATE — Elevating Equity Values in the Transition of the Energy system — which works to ensure that the transformation of the electric grid is both sustainable and benefits all members of society equitably.

As we begin to repopulate campus, there will be many public health precautions and other policies initiated for your benefit. Please make time to read important email messages and follow the protocols in place to limit the spread of the virus. Students, we heard your feedback and campus is making an effort to provide safe opportunities for you to hang out with old friends and make news ones – using in-person, virtual and hybrid formats as public health metrics allow. To inform decision-making, the university has also developed a system of “Operational Postures” to monitor levels of risk.

Most of us are facing the start of this semester with mixed emotions, and it is important that we take time daily to care for ourselves. While recharged, we experienced so much in 2020 (and early 2021) that our bodies remain physically and emotionally weary. I encourage you to make your well being a priority this semester. Students, you still have access to our normal engineering support services and additional help if you need it.

We enter this spring with hope but also continued concern, as the virus remains a threat. And we should not lose sight of the racial and environmental justice challenges we face as a society, and ways we can have an impact as community members and engineers. Soon, in the not-too-distant future, we will be joyfully reunited on campus with a new appreciation for what was once overlooked as routine. Like waiting in line at the Marcus Café for a bagel or cup of coffee between classes. Oh how I cannot wait to meet up with you all there.

I wish each of you a safe and successful spring semester.


Dean Sanjay Raman's signature
Sanjay Raman
Dean, College of Engineering
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering


PS:  Be sure to mark your calendar for important dates:

  • Spring Engineering Career Fair: Thursday, February 18, 10 – 3 pm
  • Civil Engineering Career Fair – Spring 2021: Friday, February 26, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Engineers Week: Februray 21 – 27
  • Scholarship Application Deadline: Friday, February 26
  • Nomination Deadline for Dean’s Staff Awards: Friday, February 26
  • Wellbeing Wednesdays: February 24 and April 14
    programming and activities surrounding well-being for students and faculty