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Fall classes to be mostly online due to equity concerns, logistical issues

Aug 03, 2020   |   The Dartmouth

"The engineering department faced a particularly challenging decision, since the vast majority of engineering courses necessitate a hands-on component. Considering this, the Registrar’s guidelines stipulated that only engineering courses could require in-person elements," reports The Dartmouth in an article about how the pandemic is affecting fall classes.

"In an email statement to The Dartmouth, associate dean of undergraduate engineering Doug Van Citters wrote that two undergraduate engineering courses, ENGS 37, 'Environmental Engineering' and ENGS 76, 'Machine Design,' as well as the capstone design sequence, ENGS 89, 'Engineering Design Methodology and Project Initiation' and ENGS 90, 'Engineering Design Methodology and Project Completion' will be offered on-site in the fall. Of the courses offered, ENGS 76 will be the only one to require an in-person element because it has 'a significant component embedded in [the Thayer School of Engineering’s] fabrication facilities.'

"Van Citters explained that a two-section offering of ENGS 76 could not be made equitable per the Registrar’s guidelines. However, to avoid cancellation of the course, the engineering department opted to offer it during the fall and spring terms — priority terms for ’22s and ’21s, respectively — to accommodate the 'mixed population' of students the course includes in a typical term.

"'About a quarter of our faculty had originally asked for the opportunity to work with students residential in Hanover,' Van Citters wrote on the decision to conduct some classes on campus. 'Very few thought it necessary to have in person lectures, but small design reviews, access to manufacturing equipment and more sophisticated laboratory equipment that simply cannot be found in the home environment motivated these thoughts.'

"Only one course, ENGS 35, 'Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering,' was cancelled for the fall term due to safety concerns — a feat that Van Citters wrote was 'a testament to the flexibility of the faculty.' All remaining courses are being offered entirely online, with students receiving any required lab equipment by mail."

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