The Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering has compiled a list of frequently asked questions in reference to fall 2020 specific to mechanical engineering students. Knowing that university plans may change as the semester develops, we will attempt to keep this page as updated as possible. (Last updated: 8/17/20)

We also know you may be facing challenging life situations during this time, and we want to reassure you, as a department, we will make every attempt to be flexible and compassionate in our support and guidance. We are excited to have you back for a great semester and want you to know we are here to help.  

Other Important Fall 2020 Resources

To gain a full understanding of actions taken and guidelines established to ensure safety at CU Boulder through fall 2020, please be sure to also review the following. These resources cover things like what is expected of students, faculty and staff during this time, what will happen after campus closes in November, what will happen if campus shifts back to fully online learning mid-semester, and what to do if you get sick during the semester, among other topics. 

Campus COVID-19 Info
Get all the latest updates on campus efforts regarding COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

Many MCEN classes are offered in a hybrid in-person/remote format in fall 2020. The enrollment capacities of any on-campus lab or lecture are limited in order to maintain an 8-foot bubble around students. Depending on the total class enrollment and the size of the classroom assigned, this means you may be able to attend the class fully in-person or you may attend in-person on a rotating basis, approximately once per week. Please review any class notes that are listed for the classes on your schedule and familiarize yourself with the guidelines listed on the Infrastructure Mitigation Efforts webpage, managed by the Infrastructure & Sustainability office. Your instructor will also provide more specific instructions for any hybrid in-person MCEN classes you may be enrolled in, prior to the first day of class. Please do not attend class in person until you have received instructions from your instructor.

Mechanical engineering courses can be broken down into the following categories. Definitions of the following course formats can be found at the Office of the Registrar website

  • 64 remote lecture sections
  • 34 remote lab sections
  • 35 hybrid in-person/online and/or remote lecture sections
  • 24 hybrid in-person/online and/or remote lab sections

Fall break will take place November 26–29 this year. After break, all ME classes will shift to being conducted entirely remotely. The lecture schedule and syllabi of your classes should reflect this.

The Mechanical Engineering faculty and staff have been working this summer to modify classes to incorporate innovative online and remote teaching techniques. While we recognize that the fall 2020 semester will look quite different from the past, the faculty are committed to providing a quality, hands-on experience given the current circumstances. Lab courses will retain hands-on components either remotely using at-home hardware and/or simulation systems or in-person in accordance with social distancing, depending on the class. Course instructors will provide specific details about each course.

The Office of the Registrar sent an email to all students on July 29 announcing that they have completed the majority of updates to the fall schedule of classes. If you have questions related to the specifics of your fall 2020 class schedule, you are welcome to connect with your academic advisor (Undergraduate students: Buff Portal Advising; Graduate students: or your instructor directly. Enrollment opens back up for undergraduate students on August 3 at 8 a.m. MDT.

All MCEN core courses have at least one remote or online option, so it’s possible to build a fully remote fall 2020 schedule. Many sections that are offered as hybrid in-person may also have a remote offering. Please refer to the Class Notes section of the course in Class Search for more information on requesting the remote option for the class. Capacity of seats still remains limited even when not restricted by physical classroom space, so you will want to adjust your schedule sooner than later. Some lab-based remote offerings including MCEN 3047 and MCEN 4045, may still require students to be campus adjacent for pick-up/drop-off of hardware and supplies. If you’d like assistance in constructing a fully remote schedule, please connect with your academic advisor (Undergraduate students: Buff Portal Advising; Graduate students:

Prior to the start of the fall semester, we encourage you to consider the technology needs of your classes. Most remote classes will utilize Zoom for synchronous streaming of lectures and Canvas to manage course content. The department has also developed hardware recommendations specific to mechanical engineering students, to accommodate software you may need to utilize for various MCEN-specific courses, regardless of instruction mode. If you are noticing issues with accessing class content, please connect with your instructor as soon as possible. Please also consider the suggestions outlined on the How to Successfully Transition to Online Courses page compiled by our colleagues in Arts & Sciences.

Many MCEN classes are offered in a hybrid in-person/remote format in fall 2020. Please work with your academic advisor to review your degree plan to determine if adjusting your fall 2020 schedule to accommodate more hybrid in-person classes is an option. Ultimately, a mixture of hybrid in-person, remote and online courses may be necessary to allow you to progress in your degree. The campus is also setting up outdoor spaces to provide study and work spaces that observe campus physical distancing guidelines. You can also take advantage of student organizations and on-campus employment opportunities as a way to continue building hands-on experience.

In this time of physical distancing, we encourage our students to remain socially connected to help support one another. Student organizations and clubs will remain active, but the format of meetings and projects may look different from semesters past. We encourage you to check out the student organizations that will be showcased at the virtual Engineering Immersion and Be Involved Fair on August 25–27. ASME for undergraduate students, the Community Building Committee (CBC) for graduate students and other student organizations will be offering as much of their social programming as possible using a virtual format. Other opportunities to connect include maximizing the social opportunity provided by group projects, asking questions during synchronous courses, attending professor and TA office hours, engaging in discussion boards on Canvas and creating study groups with classmates.

The undergraduate and graduate advising teams will remain remote throughout fall 2020. Appointments and drop-ins will be conducted virtually via Zoom. Phone appointments may also be an option, but it is expected for students to be located in a space that is conducive to conversation and planning. 

For Undergrads: Students will still have a hold placed on their account in September, prompting them to meet with their advisor. This semester, more than ever, we encourage you to meet with your academic advisor early in the semester, so you can address concerns, ask questions and ensure you are on track to graduate. Schedule an appointment or view drop-in hours through Buff Portal Advising

Homework folders will not be in use for the fall 2020 semester and ECME 109 will remain locked. Instructors and TAs will return homework, quizzes, exams and projects via Canvas.

Both Design Your Career and Buffs Pro are moving entirely online for fall 2020. Please visit the linked pages for more information about the plan for Buffs Pro and the plan for Design Your Career. You must be signed into your Google account with a CU email address to access the info sheets.

TBD. We are awaiting a decision from the ME Undergraduate Committee.