By Tyler Irving
This week, U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip took a virtual trip around the world.
Using the digital meeting platform Zoom, Dean Yip facilitated a series of open discussions for undergraduate students, who are currently studying remotely in dozens of locations around the world — from Toronto to Tehran to Taipei — due to public health restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“We wanted to do this session because we are now more than halfway through the semester, which is the time when the stress level naturally starts to inch up a bit,” said Dean Yip in his opening remarks.
“I want to hear from you about what’s working and what isn’t, but I also want to give you a chance to connect with other students in your time zone who may be going through the same challenges you are.”
More than 100 students registered for the three sessions, each of which was scheduled at times convenient for a certain section of the globe. Session 1 covered Southeast and East Asia, while Session 2 covered Europe, Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. Session 3 was aimed at students in North, Central and South America.
The Dean was joined by front-line staff including academic advisors, learning strategists and the Faculty’s registrar and Mental Health Programs Officer.
Also joining were more than a dozen alumni, from recent graduates to seasoned professionals. Each shared their own experiences on how students can make the most of their time at Skule™, how to network and prepare for future career opportunities, and offered to connect with those in their regions of the world.
“I was really grateful to get a chance to talk to Faculty, alumni, and students from U of T Engineering because it demonstrated the support and availability of the community from all over the world,” said Carmelle Chatterjee (Year 3 ChemE), who attended remotely from Frankfurt, Germany.
“Especially in these times. it’s nice to get a reminder of what we all have in common and how we can connect, regardless of our background or where we may be situated in the world.”
This event was the first of its kind, but it likely won’t be the last. U of T Engineering has extended its Remote Access Guarantee for the Winter semester.
“I’ve been so gratified and impressed to see how everyone has handled the current situation, using their engineering talent to develop creative solutions to unusual challenges,” said Dean Yip. “Going forward, I think it’s really important to continue to maintain our strong community, form new connections and for me to hear directly from students.”