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Engineering FAQs Concerning COVID-19

For information about the university’s status and for updates, visit

TCE Office Hours: visit our office hours site to find out when our offices are open and how to get in touch.

Graduate students: visit the Graduate School’s FAQ for graduate students.

For research information, visit the Office of Research FAQ.

Daily protocol for persons coming to work on campus

Employees coming to campus should complete the self-screening questionnaire prior to coming to campus on each of those days. Completion of the questionnaire will either clear or not clear the individual to come to campus. If not cleared, the person should complete the self-isolation form. Supervisors should ensure that an affected employee completes the self-isolation form, so that the university and Knox County Health Department will engage the employee about self-isolation and contact tracing. Websites to assist with this process are:

Required Daily Health Self-Screening Information

Information About When to Self Isolate

What Happens When a COVID-19 Case is Reported

How will social distancing happen in classrooms?

If you know in which classroom your in-person classes will take place, check this list of classroom plans from Facilities Services for floor plan and seating diagrams to ensure appropriate physical distancing as well as a guide for occupancy.

Other questions you have about the function of classrooms may be answered by UT’s Safety in Classrooms and Instructional Labs Guide. If you still have questions, get in touch with your instructor(s).

Can I choose whether I take my classes in-person or online?

Get in touch with the professor for the class in question. These types of decisions are (mostly) being made at the individual class level. Our instructors are being as flexible as possible to accommodate the needs of our students.

Online Courses/Connecting/Zoom

I am having trouble figuring out how to connect for online classes. Where can I get help? Visit Vols Online for help with setting up courses and watching a video on how to use zoom.

Click here to log in to your UT Zoom account.

Prevent “Zoom bombing”—a new term for when individuals “gate crash” Zoom meetings. These uninvited guests could share their screens, make disturbing posts in the chat, and attempt to take over the meeting. Read Zoom’s blog post on how to prevent zoom bombing. Additionally, OIT has recommendations on how to prevent it from happening.

What do I do if I don’t have internet access and/or a computer for online classes?

Students who do not have a computer or access to the internet at home may be eligible to receive laptops and/or hotspots through OIT. You can submit a technology request for remote access online through OIT.

Are buildings open?

  • Between now and August 9, you need to swipe your valid (current) UT ID to enter engineering buildings. Beginning Monday, August 10, all buildings will revert back to being unlocked daily for general access.
  • If you are a student and currently need access but do not have it, first check with your faculty advisor before completing this building access request form.

Can I still work on my research in the lab?

Contact your faculty advisor for specifics, but ideally, you need to find a way to work on your research remotely.

How should I connect with my academic advisor?

Engineering Advising Office personnel are working remotely until further notice. Advisors are available and ready to assist you via email, phone, and Zoom. View a list of our general and major-specific advisors.

Current students should schedule advising appointments via Vol Academic Connect (Navigate) (accessible via MyUTK). Once your appointment is scheduled, you will be sent a link to your UT email account that you will click at the time of your scheduled appointment. If you have trouble scheduling an appointment with your advisor, call 865-974-4008 or email

What if I need tutoring for one or more of my classes?

The Student Success Center has moved all tutoring online. Physics-specific online tutoring will soon be available through the Physics Tutorial Center. The Math Place is now available via Zoom.

I have an internship or co-op scheduled for the fall and/or spring. Has it been cancelled?

Details regarding already scheduled co-op or internship assignments are evolving. Our Professional Practice staff is actively engaged with employers as decisions are being made and can address any issues or concerns you are experiencing.

Can the Office of Engineering Professional Practice still help me find an internship or co-op?

Yes. Companies are still actively recruiting Engineering Vols for positions. The Fall Engineering Expo will take place virtually on September 15 and we are actively posting opportunities in ProConnect. Questions? Students with last names A–L should contact Tonya Shortt. Students with last names M–Z should contact Suzanne Sawicki.

Learn more about why internships and co-ops are so valuable your engineering education.

I am disappointed that the spring 2020 graduation was canceled. Will there be a graduation ceremony in the future?

We are, too. The university is planning to hold an in-person ceremony at some point in the future when we can fully return to campus. Check out the virtual Spring 2020 graduation ceremony.

What can I do to keep my lab safe?

In your research lab:

  • wear a face mask;
  • maintain social distancing through limited occupancy and use the virtual check-in partner system when working alone; and
  • clean and sanitize your area when you start and before leaving

Know when to self-isolate and be sure to fill out the self-isolation form.

Proactively Update your Lab’s Health Safety Plan for new personnel (undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, etc.) and/or new laboratory activities.

Check in with your research group’s students, faculty, and staff members to encourage responsible, compassionate behavior—both on and off campus–regarding social distancing, wearing masks, and knowing when to self-isolate.

Research activity could well continue, even if all instruction moves completely online. Ensure your lab is ready to continue operation at the appropriate level and that you have a remote plan for any undergraduate researchers.

Prepare a Hibernation Plan for if/when your lab group’s members are all unable to come to the lab or if there is a change in campus research activity level. Ensure your plan is up-to-date. Use the safety checklist for safe hibernation to safely close. Be sure to go over it with your research group. Does everyone understand what to do in the event of hibernation? Check with your department for a plan for implementation and checking of lab hibernations. Departments must verify the safe (temporary) closure of labs.

Keep health and safety in labs (and other) spaces a top priority. Department/Center leadership should use the opportunities of faculty meetings and occasional emails to discuss and remind one another about consistent health safety behavior and planning.

How should I go about reporting a potential safety issue?

When there are potential safety issues in the laboratory, graduate students have options to discuss them through various channels. As a recommended and typical first step, graduate students can discuss the situation with the laboratory director or supervising faculty member. If the issue is not resolved, bring the issue to your department head or leader of the unit involved for discussion. As an alternative approach, graduate students can discuss the situation with the University Ombudsperson as a neutral party outside of the laboratory reporting structure. The Ombudsperson is available as an independent and confidential resource who can help graduate students decide how to approach the situation, including how to discuss the matter with the supervisor.

The Ombudsperson can be reached at 865-974-6273 and Please note that email is not a confidential form of communication, so it is best to limit email content to a meeting request. Because the university is currently implementing social distancing measures, the Ombudsperson is holding meetings on Zoom and on the phone.  Zoom- and phone-based conversations are confidential.

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