Getting back to different – a new future of opportunities for engineering and education
It’s hard to say what normal is right now, so it’s up to us as engineering leaders and educators to help define it. Our society has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as engineers, computer scientists, technologists and problem-solvers, we’re uniquely equipped to determine, build and solve for whatever lies ahead — a set of circumstances and opportunities that look different than might have been expected.
One of our greatest strengths is the culture of innovation we’ve built at the nation’s largest and most comprehensive engineering school. Accelerated by our mindset and ability to adapt, I have never been more proud to be a part of the community of Fulton Schools faculty, staff, students and supporters who demonstrated our adaptability as we leveraged ASU’s national leadership in digital learning to deliver an immersive online educational experience for every learner – over 24,000 students at the conclusion of the spring semester – enabling them to safely and successfully pursue a great education.
COVID-19 has landed us in a new ‘normal’ and accelerated the deployment of new modes of learning that cross boundaries, demonstrating how in-person, live, remote and asynchronous education can connect seamlessly. Our adaptation to COVID-19 is bringing new opportunities for collaboration and technology that advance learning and will ultimately expand access to engineering education across global networks of learners and industry.
The pandemic also showed us how quickly our community of researchers can respond, using the tools we have developed to bring together people, research assets and industry partners to serve the public. Drawing on our top faculty and their ideas, we have developed new research methodologies for improved disease modeling, early warning systems for tracking traces of COVID-19 in city sewage systems, provided cleaning devices for PPE, and in a partnership with industry, our students and faculty networked all of the 3D printing and advanced manufacturing assets at the University to rapidly produce PPE for health care facilities and community organizations in need. These represent just a few of the dozens of solutions our faculty and students are developing.
Though the way we operate within the world has changed, our commitment to building partnerships, to seeking opportunities and to engineer a better world has not. As the Valley continues to emerge as an epicenter for innovation, engineering and the Fulton Schools will continue to be the engine driving solutions forward. Our faculty’s ideas and expertise, and the talented graduates we produce are the core of that positive momentum. With over 4,700 graduates this year, the Fulton Schools is leading the creation of the highly skilled, career-ready workforce to move solutions forward.
The world is in a place that critically needs engineers, technologists and the innovative skills and mindsets the Fulton Schools has come to be known for. So instead of getting back to ‘normal’, we are getting back to ‘different’, promoting the ideas and initiatives that will continue to define the future of engineering and education. While the times are challenging, engineers and technologists are ready to meet those challenges and we will continue to advance the new discoveries and new methods of learning critical to our futures.
Kyle D. Squires, Dean and Professor