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Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Jan 22
Tags: students, all updates

Providing in-person learning experiences – part 2

Last week’s message outlined efforts in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance to provide in-person learning experiences for students whose face-to-face course components look very different than they did before the pandemic. This week, I would like to highlight hands-on learning opportunities in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

Electronic systems engineering instructor Doug Wagner notes that a program- and Faculty-wide effort enables students to have in-person and hands-on experiences:

Electronic systems engineering has tackled the challenges of the laboratory experience as a team, with a variety of approaches. Our basic circuits labs in Fall 2020 saw over 100 circuit trainer kits being developed, purchased, assembled and delivered to students worldwide. Advanced circuits classes pivoted to the use of USB test equipment and lab component kits, allowing a near in-person lab experience while students maintain safe learning environments. A number of lab courses were able to use simulation software to accomplish the learning objectives.

One area in which hands-on experience was deemed especially necessary was our power systems option, which involves large industrial equipment. Students had the opportunity to attend an in-person, on-campus, dynamic motor lab. The lab was performed by small groups, scheduled over a three-week period. Students from Regina, and as far away as Calgary, travelled to the campus for this opportunity; students who could not attend in person were provided with a remote option. All safety and wellness protocols were carefully observed.

Students have been very appreciative of the efforts made to provide these in-person and hands-on learning opportunities, and we are continuing this work in the Winter term.

Likewise, environmental systems engineering lab instructor Ben Lichtenwald is providing both in-person and remote options for students:

This term, I am offering in-person lab sessions for four different environmental systems engineering classes: groundwater development and contaminant transport; air pollution engineering; solid and hazardous waste management; and engineering hydrology.
Lab sessions for these classes are offered concurrently both in-person and by remote teaching, allowing each student to choose their preferred means of participation. In-person labs will be run multiple times over the course of several weeks. This allows us to safely accommodate smaller numbers of students in the lab at the same time.

Thank you to Doug, Ben, and everyone in Engineering who is providing these safe and fulfilling in-person opportunities for their students.

Instructors share their approaches to remote teaching

With most courses delivered remotely during the pandemic, it is important for both instructors and students to have a positive experience.

To that end, the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the Centre for Continuing Education are collaborating on the Welcome to My Remote Course speaker series. The series features teaching staff who share helpful insights into remote course development and delivery in a range of disciplines.

Centre for Teaching and Learning director Dr Alec Couros notes: “This series taps into and highlights the broad pedagogical expertise that exists across the University community. As well, much of the series features practices that emerged in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and speaks to the commitment of faculty to respond to the challenges of remote teaching, as well as their resilience.”

Four webinars have taken place to date, featuring:

  • Dr Samantha Lawler, assistant professor of astronomy at Campion College;
  • Dr David Gerhard, head of the computer science department;
  • Julie Machnaik, instructor in the Faculty of Education; and
  • Dr Douglas Farenick, Dean of Science and professor of mathematics and statistics.

These webinars, which may be found on the Welcome to My Remote Course website, provide students and instructors alike with fascinating glimpses into how instructors effectively develop and deliver their remote courses.

Dr Gale Russell from the Faculty of the Education (Wednesday 27 January) and Dr Paul Bruno of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies (Wednesday 3 February) will give the next presentations in the series. You may register for Dr Russell’s webinar here, and for Dr Bruno’s here.

My thanks to these colleagues for sharing their expertise with the campus community.

Paul J Hill School of Business students excel in national competitions

Students from the Paul J Hill School had a great deal of success at two national competitions held virtually this past weekend.

At the annual Queen’s University ICBC case competition, Thomas Hines and Dawson Williams-Nadler placed second in accounting. They were one of only five teams from across the country to qualify for the final stage of competition.

Led by co-captains Emma Ulmer and Andriy Tkach, Hill School students also excelled at the JDC West competition hosted by the University of Manitoba’s Asper School. The team placed first in charity hours contributed in the community, and second in funds raised for charity. The finance team (Jordan Tholl, Thomas Lux, and Carson Bigalky) finished first, as did the entrepreneurship team (Harrison Lars-Hansen, Kyle Bye, and Jessica Goebel). The debate team (Thuraya Brennan, Frank Nordstrom, Aidan Skaf, and Hannah Tait) had a third-place finish.

Thank you to the many Faculty of Business Administration coaches and advisors who supported the teams, and to the students themselves for representing our University so well. As Dean of Business Administration Dr Gina Grandy said, in challenging circumstances “you have demonstrated great resilience, an amazing sense of school spirit, and tremendous community leadership.” Congratulations!

“So let us leave behind a country / better than the one we were left”

The sentiment animating those clear, strong lines of poetry is not far removed from that underlying our University's vision statement, which commits us "to reflect the world in which we want to live."

So where do these lines of poetry come from? They can be found toward the end of “The Hill We Climb,” written by Amanda Gorman and delivered at the US presidential inauguration earlier this week. Born in 1989, at the age of 16 Ms Gorman became Los Angeles’ youth poet laureate, and three years later was named National Youth Poet Laureate. She graduated from Harvard last year.

“The Hill We Climb” concludes thus: “For there is always light, / if only we're brave enough to see it / If only we are brave enough to be it.” You can see and listen to Ms Gorman read it here, and find Masha Gessen’s appreciation, published yesterday in The New Yorker, here.

I recommend “The Hill We Climb” to you not only for what it says, but for its verbal beauty, grace, and strength. Brava, Ms Gorman.


Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor