CEE Update Engineering Management

Engineering Management Students Adapt to Virtual Environment 

By Lisa Gerber


Distance Learning students photos in ZOOM format
The Cornell Engineering Management Online Learning Cohort.

When Cornell migrated to virtual learning in March 2020, CEE students, faculty, and staff were faced with many questions. For the Engineering Management Program, there were a few immediate challenges. How do we support our current project teams who rely on face-to-face meetings? How do we help students in their job search as employers change hiring practices? And how do we build a strong community among students in our inaugural Online Learning cohort when they can’t meet each other for the first time on campus?

For students in ENMGT 5910, the capstone project course, students and project sponsors immediately created new ways to check in on milestones and deliverables. This was no easy task, since team members were scattered across the globe and had to find meeting times that would accommodate different time zones. Project presentations, a big event for Engineering Management students in their final semester, were also online. Faculty, staff, and students attended a live ZOOM session to hear about project results and conclusions from seven project teams. Andrea Ippolito, ENMGT 5910 Lecturer and Class ’06 College of Engineering alumna stated, “At the end of the semester, I had each corporate partner provide feedback on the student’s performance and every single partner expressed how impressed they were with the student’s ability to adapt and excel during trying circumstances. As their instructor, I was incredibly proud of them—they soared!”

To adapt to a new environment for those seeking jobs, the Engineering Management Program and M.Eng. Career Services hosted a series of webinars to help students navigate virtual interviews. The virtual series also included panel discussions with recent alumni who could speak to updates within their own company or provide advice. The extra support during this uncertain time helped students find jobs and identify new opportunities.

Online Learning students were eager to come to campus in August for their first residential session in Ithaca and connect with their cohort of fellow engineering leaders.

While it was initially disappointing that this week-long experience would need to occur online, staff and faculty worked to develop activities that addressed the current pandemic, were engaging, and allowed for organic connections. Andrea Ippolito developed a daily challenge focused on the development of a coronavirus vaccine from the perspective of a pharmaceutical engineering manager. Students, staff, and faculty also participated in social activities ranging from “two truths and a lie” to a scavenger hunt.

We teach problem-solving and leadership skills to develop adaptable responses and creative solutions and it was impressive to see these approaches in action. We are proud of our students who took on these challenges and demonstrated leadership and adaptability. Our on-campus program has been training technical leaders for over 30 years and our part-time and online degree program allows students to earn an M.Eng. in Engineering Management while they work.

If you are interested in learning more about the Engineering Management Program, we encourage you to attend an information session or reach out to Program Manager, lmg297@cornell.edu Lisa Gerber at https://www.engmanagement.cornell.edu