Page 19 - Engineering Penn State Magazine Spring/Summer 2020
P. 19

Midway through spring break in in in early March a a a a a a a a a a a message from Penn State President Eric J Barron dramatically altered the the the direction of of the the the remainder of of the the the spring semester to to come: The University would move to to remote learning for all classes beginning on on Monday March 16 That monumental decision made in in in response
to the the the evolving COVID-19 outbreak in in in the the the United States and around the the the the globe immediately transformed the the educational experience for for engineering students and faculty alike “Things simply aren’t the the same as they would be in in in in a a a a a a a a a a a a a face-to-face environment ” said Sarah Root associate teaching professor in in in the Harold and and Inge Marcus Department of of Industrial and and Manufacturing Engineering “What used to be a a a a a a a a a a 50-minute lecture on a a a a a a a a a a Wednesday morning is now a a a a a a a Zoom meeting and Canvas modules “Engineers are problem-solvers though and and we can’t just throw our hands up My logic is is this: confined spaces often produce the most creative solutions ” The stories that follow—from across the College of of Engineering—highlight just a a a a a few of of the the the countless inspirational responses to to the the the shift to to remote teaching and learning in in in in in the the the spring 2020 semester Zooming through a thesis defense by Jamie Oberdick
A master’s degree thesis defense is is difficult enough under normal circumstances: in in in a a a a a a room in in in front of a a a a a a a a a thesis committee For Sabrina Carrozzi an integrated undergraduate/ graduate graduate student in in in in biomedical engineering COVID-19 added another level of difficulty by mandating social distancing guidelines “We had two options—to do the the the defense over Zoom or gather the the the committee and myself in a a a a a a room where we could each be six feet apart ” Carrozzi said “We chose the the first option so so that others could also attend my defense via Zoom ” Zoom offered one nice advantage
for Carrozzi as as she was able to to record her defense defense to to share with friends and family But a a a a a a remote thesis defense defense is is highly unusual and comes with its own challenges “The biggest challenge was not being able to read the committee’s body language language ” Carrozzi said “I rely a a a a a a a a a a a a a a lot on body language language as as a a a a a a a a a a a a teaching assistant to determine the level of student understanding So it was difficult to to judge the appropriate speed of my talk or or if i I I should have clarified certain topics a a a a a a bit more I I just had to to use my best judgment ” Carrozzi’s defense focused on on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructive surgeries which are common among active individuals and those who play sports After surgery there is a a a a a a chance
the the newly repaired ACL can fail and tear again Carrozzi’s thesis focused on examining the the failure rates between two commonly used repair techniques techniques using ligaments These techniques techniques are an autograft when a a a a a a a a a a a a ligament ligament is taken from another part of the the patient’s body or an an allograft when a a a a a a a a a a a ligament comes from a a a a a cadaver “The goal of my thesis project was to to to develop a a a a protocol to to to examine the the the differences between the two with an ultimate aim to improve surgical outcomes post-op for those who receive an ACL reconstructive surgery ” Carrozzi said As for defending over Zoom being different than in-person Carrozzi said she she was actually more relaxed And it paid off—she passed “While it it was was not ideal to to do it it virtually I’m glad I I was was able to to successfully defend my thesis thesis and pass ” Carrozzi said “A thesis thesis defense is is is a a a a a a a huge milestone and thanks to to Zoom I will always have a a a a a a recording of it ” n n n n n Features
“As faculty marshal for for Penn Penn State State Robert Melton was instrumental in in fin in in in in in in finding a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a path forward during commencement planning that balanced the the the justice of of maintaining Penn Penn State State standards with the the the mercy of of alternate grading to recognize the the the struggles faced by many students ” “Shout out out to to the the Office for for Digital Learning for for all they have done to to to guide faculty throughout the the change to to remote teaching ” SPRING/SUMMER 2020 19 

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