The Michigan Engineer News Center

The coronavirus and class broadcasts

A professor's experience with the 2019 polar vortex offers insight into how institutions might cope with the possible spread of the newest coronavirus.| Short Read

By Perry Samson

I suspect it’s inevitable that at some point, a student on my campus will be diagnosed with a highly communicable illness, be it the current coronavirus (COVID-19) or another disease. Given the academic institution’s responsibility to protect students and staff, my expectation is that students with a diagnosed disease would be individually quarantined and treated medically. But if the disease was discovered in, say, a dormitory or a specific community, I imagine that more drastic steps would be taken, such as limiting campus transportation and public gatherings and possibly even shuttering classrooms. One can’t help but wonder how such a situation would affect the academic mission of an institution. If the threat prevailed, would semesters be canceled? How would that impact students’ ability to progress through their education? Would the institution need to refund students for their tuition? An epidemic would pose potentially massive disruptions for students, faculty, staff, and the institution.

My experience with the polar vortex may offer insight into how an institution might cope with such a scenario. On January 31, 2019, the midwestern United States experienced a period of extremely cold temperatures and winds that drove wind chills to as low as -57°F in parts of the Midwest. In response, my institution and many other academic institutions in the Midwest canceled classes for two or more days.

I teach an introductory course titled Extreme Weather. It seemed wrong to allow such a teachable moment to pass, so I was determined to conduct class despite the classrooms being off-limits and buildings closed. The challenge was amplified by the fact that I was traveling in Washington, DC, and because the classrooms were closed, the guest lecturer I had planned for the day would not be able to help.

This article is republished from Educause Review. Read the original article.

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  • Perry Samson

    Perry Samson

    Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Atmospheric Science, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read