Published: Sept. 18, 2020 By

Patrick LuebPatrick Lueb

Late last year, Patrick Lueb (AeroEngr’89) was part of a plan.

He was working with the University of Colorado Boulder Advancement on a $25,000 gift to sponsor student travel to Washington, D.C., for a policy camp to give hands-on experience in the world of aerospace and government. It would be a unique opportunity for an up-close-and-personal look at a critical part of the world of aerospace.

Then COVID-19 hit.

"It all went out the window," Patrick said.

Overnight, travel stopped and CU Boulder went almost entirely online. The university adopted remote learning, which created unique challenges for engineering education, which relies heavily on hands-on laboratory experiences.

Faculty began leading Zoom sessions, walking through labs, but it was not the same. Getting equipment directly into student hands was critical, but the equipment needed was costly.

Brett Wingfield in Advancement approached Patrick. Instead of travel and a policy retreat, would he be interested in sponsoring technology purchases to support distance education instead? He jumped at the chance.

“It's a total 180; a completely different approach from my original thought. Instead of seeing places and meeting people, nobody's going anywhere, but we need to continue teaching and education," Patrick said. "I understand. I’ve only been into my office once since February. So this makes sense."

A systems integrator at IBM in Arlington, Virginia, Patrick saw how quickly his company shifted to all-remote work and understood the needs.

“Students can do a lot remotely, but you have to get the gear, and there's a cost for that. While life goes crazy and funding dries up, I'm in a position right now where I can help, knock on wood,” Patrick said.

Although fall 2020 classes have resumed partially in-person on the CU Boulder campus, hybrid education is essential, as large lab sections will continue to be limited for the duration of the pandemic. The equipment purchases will allow students who cannot be on campus to check out technology to continue hands-on learning remotely.

Patrick's $25,000 gift is benefitting three specific areas:

  • High-powered laptops for students to check out to run specialized software like LabVIEW and Ansys.
  • ASEN 3300, Aerospace Electronics and Communications, to purchase Analog Discovery 2 units, oscilloscopes, advanced microcontrollers, and software to give remote students hands-on access to labs.
  • ASEN 1403, Intro to Rocket Engineering, to purchase Arduino hardware for student projects.