Published: Oct. 21, 2021 By

If there was a mantra for fall 2021 in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering, everyone would be saying ‘it’s good to be back.’

After months of connecting only through Zoom calls and getting to know people’s home offices all too well, the University of Colorado Boulder has welcomed students back to campus for fall 2021. Halfway through the traditional in-person semester, there is still a collective joy at seeing students mingling in the Engineering Quad or moving through the Engineering Center hallways.

Students walking outside the engineering center
Students walking onto campus near the Engineering Center. 
Header image: Students chatting outside the Engineering Center. 

“I just like the intangible little things about being on campus,” said Andrew Brodsky, a mechanical engineering senior. “The hallway conversations, the intricacies of hands-on learning that cannot happen on Zoom, being in other people’s presence and simply wearing pants instead of sweatpants!”

The infectious buzz is, however, a tentative enthusiasm. Health and safety are still two of the top priorities on campus.

“I love being in person but there has definitely been a transition period of learning how to be around people again,” said mechanical engineering senior Claire Isenhart. “The energy needed to be in the classroom and in person is different from being online last year.” 

There are various COVID-19 protocols in place to keep Buffs healthy. You can read about the university’s latest public health measures here.

Not all courses are fully in person, either. While most mechanical engineering classes are in person this semester, there are a few such as Mechanical Engineering Design Projects and Manufacturing Processes and Systems that are hybrid.

“Hybrid is nice,” said Cordelia Kim, another mechanical engineering senior. “Some students even attend the remote session together. We meet in a conference room for the lectures.”

In either scenario, the ability to educate and learn from one another without the separation of a computer screen has brought a renewed energy to the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The benefit can be as simple as making eye contact during lectures or as valuable as obtaining the experiential education that ME is known for.

Click each tab below to read about how the return to campus has been a welcomed change in ME’s classrooms and labs.