Needless to say, this semester looks different than usual due to efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about what to expect in this Q&A with Ara Arabyan, director of the Interdisciplinary Capstone program.
Q: How will expectations of students be different?
A: Expectations of students should not be different than in previous years. Interdisciplinary Capstone students spend most of the fall semester generating requirements and detailed designs for their projects. All of these activities, as well as academic instruction, will be done virtually during the fall 2020 semester. Most students will not need to use fabrication facilities throughout the fall. However, we’re making special arrangements for groups that do need to begin fabrication to work individually in facilities that meet university, state, and federal guidelines on disinfection, social distancing, and mask-wearing.
Q: Are the students attending in-person classes in which they complete design reviews?
A: All instruction in Interdisciplinary Capstone in the fall 2020 semester will be “live online,” which means that students will be able to interact with instructors and each other live via web conferencing tools during scheduled class hours. All sessions will also be recorded so that students who are in distant time zones, such as in Europe or the Middle East, can view them at their convenience. Similarly, all design reviews (with sponsor participation) will be conducted live online via web conferencing tools in Fall 2020 and possibly in Spring 2021.
Q: Will students be able to meet in groups to work on their projects?
A: During the design portion of their project (most or all of fall 2020), students will meet via web conferencing tools. For now, we are recommending that the students not meet in person either on- or off-campus. If the pandemic situation improves in spring 2021, when the fabrication and testing portion of their projects takes place, the students will be allowed to meet in person with restrictions, subject to university, state, and federal rules. If this is not possible, we have contingency plans to enable students to complete their projects safely.
Q: Will the timeline for projects be affected?
A: No. We are following the same timeline for the development and completion of the projects as in previous years. That said, depending on the project and developments in pandemic containment efforts, the scope of some projects may need to be modified. Most projects should not be affected, but sponsors will work directly with students if any modifications do become necessary.
Q: How are mentors and sponsors expected to meet with students? Are they allowed to schedule in-person meetings with them?
A: Any meetings with the students in Fall 2020 will preferably be held via web conferencing tools. If in-person meetings must occur due to exceptional circumstances, they must comply with university, state, and federal guidelines for disinfection, social distancing and mask wearing.
Q: Will the spring semester be different than in previous years?
A: At present, we plan and expect Spring 2021 to be a "normal" semester that is not that much different from past spring semesters. Nonetheless, depending on circumstances, we have contingency plans to enable students to work on and complete their projects in environments that will not endanger their health.