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Engineering FAQs Concerning COVID-19

For information about the university’s status and for updates, visit utk.edu/coronavirus.

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. Additional resources include:

  • A recent FCC agreement stated that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots
  • Comcast is offering free WiFi for 2 months to low income families and all Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time
  • Charter is offering free internet for 2 months
  • AT&T now offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families
  • Sprint follows the above FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge
  • T-Mobile follows the FCC agreement, temporarily provides unlimited data to existing customers, and soon will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge

Can I still access the buildings?

  • Yes, but you will need your valid (current) UT ID to do so. Beginning March 23, all buildings on campus will be locked 24/7. Everyone is highly encouraged to stay off campus if at all possible. If you need access to a building to pick up your personal belongings or projects from a lab, please contact your faculty advisor for guidance on how to obtain the items.
  • If you are a student and need access but do not currently 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.

Can I still meet with my academic advisor?

Yes. Your advisor is available as usual and would love to hear from you, especially if you have concerns. All advising appointments scheduled for the remainder of the semester will be held via Zoom. Once your appointment is scheduled, you will be sent a link to your UT e-mail account that you will click at the time of your scheduled appointment. If you have questions, please let your advisor know.

If you are a current UT student or a readmit, please use GradesFirst, available via MyUTK, to schedule your advising appointment. If you cannot find an appointment time, contact your advisor.

Will I receive a refund for my student fees?

With the transition to online classes for the remainder of the spring semester, our campus has outlined a plan to provide prorated refunds of several student fees for services that cannot be accommodated in other ways. Beginning the week of April 6, 2020, student accounts will be updated to reflect refunds—prorated for the period between March 23 to May 9, 2020—for the following:

  • On-campus housing
  • Meal plans
  • Study abroad fees
  • Transportation fees
  • Parking permits

For more information, check out this update from the university.

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’m a graduating senior. How do I finish my senior design project?

The situation is evolving daily. Your project advisors and instructors will be working with you individually to decide how your projects can be rescoped to allow you to successfully complete your projects without having to be on campus. Additionally, decisions are currently underway regarding drop-shipping needed items for creating prototypes directly to students at your off-campus address. More details will be shared on this option as soon as possible.

I am a paid student worker or intern. Will I still be able to work and get paid?

All student workers and interns currently on payroll will keep their positions and will still receive paychecks. We are currently working through needs and altering responsibilities, especially for those student workers whose role includes on-campus activities and engaging in close proximity with others. Expect to be contacted by your supervisor with guidance and instruction, and feel free to check in with them if you have questions.

Should I even bother to register for fall 2020 classes?

Absolutely! We are committed to ensuring you have everything you need to complete your education and graduate, and that means continuing to prepare yourself for future semesters, whether they are online or in person.

Priority registration for the fall 2020 semester is as follows: seniors (earned 90 or more hours) March 23/24; juniors (earned 60 to 89.9 hours) March 30/31; sophomores (earned 30 to 59.9 hours) April 6/7; freshmen (earned 29.9 or fewer hours) April 20/21.

I am concerned about how taking a class online will affect my grade. What are my options?

Read the March 25 announcement from Provost Manderscheid regarding satisfactory/no credit grading options; the suspension of academic dismissal; and withdrawal and related deadlines.

I have an internship or co-op scheduled for the summer or fall. Has it been canceled?

Details regarding future co-op or internship assignments are evolving. The Office of Engineering Professional Practice is actively engaged with employers to make decisions. Please continue to work directly through representatives from the Office of Engineering Professional Practice to 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, so it’s not too late to find and accept an assignment. If you accept a work assignment during the remainder of the spring semester, be sure to email a copy of your offer letter to your professional practice advisor or coop@utk.edu. Learn more about why internships and co-ops are so valuable your engineering education.

I am disappointed that graduation has been canceled. Will there be a graduation ceremony in the future?

We are, too. We are working with university leadership to determine plans for celebrating our graduating students and will be in touch. If you have ideas, reach out! Contact tce@utk.edu.

Should I return my regalia for a refund?

The university is tentatively making on plans to have a graduation ceremony in late August. They will be sending out details to all the graduates once plans are finalized. So, keep your regalia. You’ll likely need it.

The Graduate School has put together several resources for graduate students about potential challenges for graduate students. Visit gradschool.utk.edu/covid-19 if you have a question not listed below.

How should I handle a remote defense of my dissertation/thesis/project?

Plan to do your remote thesis/dissertation/project defenses through Zoom for the remainder of the semester. To help facilitate, the Graduate School is temporarily not requiring the Remote Participation Form to be submitted when a remote defense is needed. The Graduate School has collected some best practices for a remote defense.

When defenses are conducted remotely, it can create difficulty in gathering signatures, but the Graduate School’s pass/fail forms will accept electronic signatures. Your major professor should download the form using the following links, and follow the instructions on the form. The completed form should be emailed to gradspec@utk.edu. View the Report of Thesis/Project Defense Form and view the Report of Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Form. These forms that are sent by the major professor are the official record of the outcome of the defense.

How have the deadlines for thesis and dissertation defense been affected?

The Graduate School is extending deadlines for spring 2020 thesis and dissertation defenses and submissions. These new dates can be found at tiny.utk.edu/grad-deadlines.

I am currently conducting research. How will this affect my research and degree timelines?

The extent to which disruptions are occurring depends on the type of research being conducted and the ever-evolving nature of the social distancing measures being put into place. For graduate students who are conducting research that must stop because of COVID-19 restrictions, please work with your faculty advisor on how this will affect your research expectations and degree timeline.

In laboratories and studios that must continue to conduct work in campus settings, make sure you practice all social distancing and respiratory hygiene guidelines. For more information, check out the CDC resources.

I am currently conducting research online. How will this affect my research?

While the UT Libraries are closed to in-person visitors, library services are fully functional and librarians stand ready to assist as needed.

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 LisaYL@utk.edu. 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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