Dean's Message to Faculty: Preparing for Your Fall Courses

Dear Cockrell School Faculty, 

I want to thank you for your creativity, flexibility, and dedication since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I realize how challenging this year has been, and I hope you are able to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation with your families over the course of the summer.

As you continue to design and prepare for your online and hybrid courses, it is critical that all faculty and instructors work to provide the best possible education for our students this fall. Guided by the Cockrell School’s ad-hoc planning committees for Online Education Best Practices and Experiential Learning, we have developed a new set of action steps, recommendations, and resources to help you further develop your upcoming courses. I urge each of you to review the information outlined below, visit the highlighted web pages, and implement the guidelines created by these two committees.  

Online Education Best Practices

In addition to identifying new technologies, devices, and platforms that can improve our courses, we must also explore different pedagogical methods and challenge ourselves to be the best “virtual instructors” we can be. I encourage you to enhance your online teaching methods and optimize the courses that you were forced to adapt quickly this past spring. To that end, our Online Education Best Practices Committee has outlined seven important steps to plan your fall engineering courses, including designing and building courses in Canvas, using available on-line tools, and developing grading and testing mechanisms.

Please visit Online Education Best Practices on the Cockrell School website for complete details and resources to help guide you through the steps.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a central part of the engineering education that we offer, and that we promise, to every Cockrell School student — regardless of whether an individual course is delivered in person or online. To ensure that we continue providing a rich array of experiential learning opportunities and to offer resources for faculty and staff to effectively administer them, our Experiential Learning Committee has developed extensive guidelines covering four key areas: course-based experiential learning (including Capstone Courses); use of multi-user facilities (such as Texas Inventionworks and machine shops); undergraduate research; and co-ops and internships.

Please visit Experiential Learning: Guidelines and Resources on the Cockrell School website for complete information, recommendations, and resources as you develop experiential learning components for your courses.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for your commitment and resilience during this difficult time. And thanks especially to all members of our ad-hoc planning committees, who have provided their expertise and worked tirelessly to help our community prepare for the 2020-21 academic year. 

I wish everyone a happy and healthy summer.



Sharon L. Wood
Dean, Cockrell School of Engineering