Message from the Dean - Fall 2020

July 29, 2020

Dear College of Engineering Community, 

Given the myriad ways we are all adapting during these uncertain times, I want to take a moment to share one thing that IS certain. UAA’s College of Engineering is still going strong with fully accredited programs and world-class faculty to offer our students academic opportunities to continue building their futures and our state.  It is especially important during times like these that we continue to educate engineers, computer scientists, project managers and geomatics professionals to help solve these pressing problems.

Like everyone else, UAA and the College of Engineering have adapted to meet these challenges. The following is a brief recap of what’s been happening, and what things will look like for fall 2020:

  • Necessary state and local restrictions on public gatherings since March required our faculty to finish teaching their spring courses via alternate course delivery. Kudos to our faculty and staff for their commitment and efforts to continue serving our students remotely. Still, recognizing that this represents a significant change for all, UAA has offered students the option for pass-fail grading in their spring courses.
  • Some of our College of Engineering students, staff and labs have been busy responding to community requests for personal protective equipment (PPE) by donating and creating solutions to help keep essential workers safe on the front lines.
  • As you may know, in addition to public health issues, the university and state are also facing significant budget challenges, which has required the university to take a hard look at finding efficiencies, and the Board of Regents voted to discontinue some programs with low enrollments. Fortunately, the only program to be temporarily suspended at the College of Engineering is the A.A.S. degree in geomatics. Not only can students currently enrolled in that program finish out their studies, but they can also still build on their studies to take advantage of our Bachelor of Science degree program in geomatics. We are also seeking to create a certificate program in geographic information systems.
  • Our popular Summer Engineering Academies for elementary through high school students also needed to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. I am pleased to report that students and their families are currently enjoying online versions of our academies, which we may also be able to offer in future years, to expand our outreach to families beyond the road system who are seeking summer options for STEM enrichment.
  • Faculty and staff have also been able to continue work on many of their research projects. For example, Dr. Scott Hamel is studying ice accretion in the Port of Anchorage; Dr. Raghu Srinivasan, Dr. Matt Cullin and Dr. Nicolae Lobontiu are developing new sensors to detect pipeline corrosion (funded by ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering award); and Dr. Shawn Butler is leading development of geofencing software to help the U.S. Coast Guard determine if a vessel enters a sensitive area.
  • Looking to fall 2020, Chancellor Sandeen has announced our courses will continue to be offered primarily through alternate course delivery. Exceptions exist for some courses that must occur face to face, such as lab-based training . I am confident that lessons learned from our spring classes, as well as some additional technical training, will make for a successful academic year ahead.

Again, I am pleased and impressed with how our faculty, staff and students have stepped up to the challenges we’ve faced. Your continued support and participation in our College of Engineering community is what has helped to make all of this possible.

 

Dr. Kenrick Mock
Interim Dean and Professor of Computer Science
UAA College of Engineering
907-786-1956
kjmock@alaska.edu