The Michigan Engineer News Center

Scenes from campus

Life on North Campus changes abruptly with COVID-19.| Short Read

Our campus, like the global community, is contending with COVID-19 and working to adapt to a new normal. Many are rapidly working on solutions. See all COVID-19 developments from University of Michigan Engineering.


Text by Jim Lynch, Photography by Joseph Xu

Enlargea student wearing gloves handles dorm furniture.
IMAGE:  Syed Dalyan, LSA Freshman, wears a glove while helping his friend move out of the Bursley Hall Dormitory on March 17, 2020.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but here we are.

The work week that started March 16 turned into a turbulent ride for the University of Michigan community on North Campus.

Classes had previously been moved online and commencement cancelled. But each day last week seemed to bring changes that further eroded whatever sense of normalcy remained.

Students gathered their belongings, leaving campus living spaces for hastily-arranged journeys home and elsewhere. Professors carried boxes of materials from their offices to their cars, preparing to teach from home offices, kitchens or living rooms.

Enlargeempty building
IMAGE:  With classes moving online and many staff and faculty working remotely, the IOE Building stands silent the afternoon of March 17, 2020.

On Monday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer halted eat-in dining at restaurants and bars. The following day, indoor gatherings of more than 50 people were banned. 

“I can’t believe this is it,” said Jett Li, a freshman engineering student, who cleared out his dorm room in Burlsey Hall early evening of Tuesday, March 17. He and two other students from their hometown of Troy, Mich., had organized their move out of separate dorm rooms together. For Li and his friends, it was a premature end to a year full of formative memories and relationships.

Wednesday, University of Michigan continued their own steps – announcing all non-critical laboratory research would shut down by Friday.

“Details will vary by unit, but our overall goal is to continue operations that are critical to our mission, while protecting health and safety, diminishing the spread of the virus and, to every degree possible, minimizing disruptions to employees’ lives,” wrote U-M President Mark Schlissel.

Enlargea newspaper on a table
IMAGE:  A copy of the Michigan Daily reporting the number of COVID-19 cases as of March 17, 2020.
Enlargean empty common space on campus
IMAGE:  The Duderstadt Center and other libraries on campus quietly shut their doors temporarily in the wake of COVID-19.
Enlargea sign on a door noting the building is closed
IMAGE:  The Duderstadt Center and other libraries on campus quietly shut their doors temporarily in the wake of COVID-19.

For many, it was a step that brought one more layer of uncertainty. But for Ashley Cornett, a Research Lab Tech, Schlissel’s earlier announcements about providing up to 80 hours of paid time off for university employees helped lessen the concern.

“I love research, but being a mother is my primary job,” she said Thursday while helping store research samples at the North Campus Research Complex. “So I’m glad to see (Schlissel) announced the 80 hours of time for this situation.”

By Friday afternoon and evening, North Campus was largely deserted. Few people remained in their offices and, for many that did, they worked with doors closed. Labs were largely empty of personnel and often-prized parking spaces were ripe for the taking.

Resources:

College of Engineering resources for students, staff, and faculty

U-M COVID-19 Updates & FAQ

Information about campus operations and events

Enlargean access panel to a building denying entry
IMAGE:  The Duderstadt Center and other libraries on campus quietly shut their doors temporarily in the wake of COVID-19.
Enlargerain on an office window
IMAGE:  On the eve of a announcement by President Mark Schlissel for a reduction in nonessential research operations, students, staff, and faculty wrap up projects in the NCRC on March 20, 2020.
Enlargea researcher works in her lab
IMAGE:  Ashley Cornett, a Research Lab Tech, helps her labmates freeze their samples on the eve of a announcement by President Mark Schlissel for a reduction in nonessential research operations. Students, staff, and faculty were wrapping up projects in the NCRC on March 20, 2020.
EnlargeA gate blocking access to a hallway
IMAGE:  On the eve of a announcement by President Mark Schlissel for a reduction in nonessential research operations, students, staff, and faculty wrap up projects in the NCRC on March 20, 2020.
Enlargea sign encouraging social distancing
IMAGE:  On the eve of a announcement by President Mark Schlissel for a reduction in nonessential research operations, students, staff, and faculty wrap up projects in the NCRC on March 20, 2020.
a student wearing gloves handles dorm furniture.
empty building
a newspaper on a table
an empty common space on campus
a sign on a door noting the building is closed
an access panel to a building denying entry
rain on an office window
a researcher works in her lab
A gate blocking access to a hallway
a sign encouraging social distancing
Portrait of Joseph Xu

Contact

Joseph Xu
Senior Multimedia Producer

Michigan Engineering
Communications & Marketing

(734) 647-7085

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