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McMaster Engineering steps up to make transition to online learningMarch 19, 2020

The leadership team at McMaster Engineering sends heartfelt kudos to faculty and staff members

Over the past week, faculty and staff members at McMaster Engineering united to help each other as the university prepared to complete the rest of the academic semester online due to COVID-19.

The leadership team at McMaster Engineering is recognizing teams and individuals for going above and beyond to make the transition as smooth as possible, dubbing them the “McMaster Engineering Volunteer Corps.”

“They are all actively working to advance the education and outcomes of our students,” said Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of Engineering, noting the immense work that took place over the weekend and during off-hours. “Our students have been incredibly patient and receptive."

“Education moves subjects from being reactive to becoming actors, taking charge of their destiny to overcome challenges – that’s what our educational efforts and faculty and staff members are doing,” he said.

In his message to the faculty, Dean Puri thanked the entire McMaster Engineering community for the collective “good work, patience and resilience during this challenging time.”

Here are the leadership team’s reflections and kudos for some members of the #FireballFamily:

Michael Curwin has done so much for the faculty in terms of training people even before it looked like it was going to be the crisis that it is today. And I'm so appreciative for what he's done with our IT staff, getting us ready to work remotely.” - Nancy Balfoort, Director, Finance & Administration

“We are so much better prepared because, hearing the coronavirus drumbeat becoming louder outside Canada’s borders, several weeks ago Michael proposed that we develop training for remote working workshops, which helped us realize that that we might have to quickly transition during a pandemic to remote work, “ added Dean Puri.

“Sincere thanks to the team who led the development of additional workshops to support our faculty in online teaching, use of Microsoft Teams, Avenue 2 Learn and other technologies. Some also volunteered to train others in different faculties. The team includes Christa Morrison (MacPherson Institute), Melec Zeadin (MacPherson Institute),  Jon Kruithof and Katrina Espanol-Miller (MacPherson Institute)
Bryan Czerneda (UTS), Greg Wohl (Mechanical Engineering), Eu-Gene Ng (Mechanical Engineering and W Booth School), Silvie Tanu Halim (W Booth School), Seshasai Srinivasan (Mechanical Engineering and W Booth School), Dan Centea (Mechanical Engineering and W Booth School), Yaser Haddara (ECE), Ian Bruce (ECE) and Mohamed Bakr (ECE).” - Mo Elbestawi, Director, School of Engineering Practice and Technology

“They have been terrific,” said Dean Puri. The team's collective work can be found on the Online Teaching Resources page.

“From our department, Yaser, Ian and Mohamed were part of the team that invested considerable time on Saturday afternoon putting together the tutorials that were delivered [Tuesday afternoon]. I have skimmed through a couple of the recordings, and it seems that they did a wonderful job.” - Tim Davidson, Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering

“I'd like to make a shout out to our advising team and Maria White for just getting this up and running in a matter of days. Having our advisors available to support our students is essential, especially with all these changes. So going from a comfortable format that has become a fine oiled machine and taking that online has been remarkable. I commend that.” - Steve Hranilovic, Associate Dean, Academic

“I would like to send a shout-out to the dedicated members of our engineering Co-op and Career Services team, led by Kathryn Leistner. We have capacity to be able to offer our students 200 virtual career appointments online, on an ongoing basis. The staff are working very hard in terms of triage with our students and with our employer partners. We are seeing very positive signs: employers are actively moving forward with interviews remotely, via Skype. Daily processing of approved summer co-op work terms is indicating that we will be on track to see over 3,000 work terms completed for the 2019/2020 academic year. We currently have nearly 200 summer co-op job postings online, with employer partners still actively engaging with our Co-op and Career Services team to hire our students.” - Arlene Fajutrao Dosen, Director, Outreach & Engagement

Paul Galpin is a sessional instructor teaching a graduate course in ‘Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics.’ This is his first time teaching at Mac. When I saw Paul on Friday, I mentioned that we had to very quickly get our professors trained on how to create online videos. Paul suggested using WebEx and made a video for us on how to do this. When WebEx started to have problems due to capacity, Paul found an alternate based on MacVideo and Kaltura. He worked to create videos on how to do this. This was all on his own time. Eu-Gene Ng and Greg Wohl were amazing with their creation of video and documentation to help with this training. We worked as a team with our fantastic staff to come up with a plan to get through this challenging time.” - Marilyn Lightstone, Chair, Mechanical Engineering

“We have four co-op students who are key to the delivery of Engineer 1C03, our graphic design course, and 1D04, our computing course: Brooklyn Schmidt, Julia Wickens, Youssef Asham and Kristen Abels. I sent a note early Tuesday morning just to see how things were going. These students had already pre-recorded their labs and tutorials and were running daily office hours with the students. It's remarkable how quickly these third and fourth-year students have just dialed in and adapted so quickly and seamlessly. It's made our lives way easier.” - Colin McDonald, Director, Engineering 1

“Everybody has stepped up so beautifully. Vince Leung, Jake Nease and Li Xi for creating the template for the contingency plan on short notice; David Latulippe for taking the lead in educating us on Microsoft Teams; Kristina Trollip and the office staff for being so efficient with the transition to the online mode of operation; Doug Keller and the technical staff, especially Michael Clarke, for being so on top of research support and transition to remote work; All our instructors, including sessionals, for being so prompt with communication with students and responding to requests; all faculty members for always being ready with, “How can I help?”; The students (both graduate and undergraduate) for being so patient and supportive.” - Prashant Mhaskar, Chair of the Department (Acting), Chemical Engineering

“Thanks to Derek Lipiec and Sebastian Rabiej for making rooms available to anybody who needs them. They’ve been working really hard.” - Mark Lawford, Chair, Computing and Software

"Within our department, just the support that I've received has been fantastic. And I would like to shout out to Eu-Gene, as well, for putting out the training course. It’s so fantastic how the faculty is coming together.” - Mike Tait, Chair, Civil Engineering

Some faculty members have also shared how they’re making the transition on Twitter (@mcmastereng). Thank you for sharing!

I'm very proud to supervise this group of talented G. students @MacCivEng @McMasterEng @McMasterU. Today they agreed to collectively work on research informing transit plans and alternative goods delivery models during COVID19 for the city of #HamOnt
— Moataz Mohamed (@Moataz_MMohamed) March 17, 2020

Trading the lecture podium for a recording studio. Is it time to get into podcasting? #OnlineTeaching #SocialDistancing @McMasterEng @McMasterU
— Robin Zhao (@ZhaoRobin) March 17, 2020

Ready to deliver my lectures to ~1000 engineering undergrads! First recording starts tomorrow morning, my home office, I’ll bring the coffee ☕ ️!
— Kathryn Grandfield (@ProfGrandfield) March 13, 2020