To say the spring semester at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering was unique would be an understatement.
When I became the interim dean of the Luddy School in early March, I had a vision for what could be accomplished through the end of the semester. Just days after my appointment, however, the COVID-19 outbreak completely upended our lives and dramatically altered that vision.
Still, I could not be prouder of how the students, faculty, and staff responded to the challenge.
We showed our resilience as a school by quickly shifting to online learning. One of the key traits of technology education and research is the ability to adapt to changing environments, to respond with speed and overcome challenges that may arise.
The Luddy School showcased those skills with very few hiccups, and the response is a testament to everyone involved with our school. In a less-than-ideal situation, the Luddy family thrived.
It was also a great honor of mine to serve as master of ceremonies for our Virtual Celebration of the Luddy Class of 2020, which recognized the students earning their Ph.D., master’s, or bachelor’s degrees in informatics, computer science, intelligent systems engineering, data science, and information and library science. The group was historic in that it included Indiana University’s first-ever bachelor’s degree recipients in engineering, a cohort that has set a solid foundation for a field of study that will allow the Luddy School to expand its role as leaders in the technology of tomorrow.
Our Class of 2020 experienced a lot of change during their time at the school. They witnessed the shift from the School of Informatics and Computing to the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering to the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. They saw spectacular Luddy Hall rise out of the ground and become a new home for our school, and they’ve helped establish the building as a collaborative workplace where the next generation of innovation will grow. They also saw the Informatics East and West buildings become Myles Brand Hall, and they dealt with all the adjustments without batting an eye.
Our world-class faculty have done their share of adapting as well. In January, few could have imagined they would be taking on critical roles in combatting a worldwide pandemic, but by March, researchers from every area of study at Luddy were doing what they could to help.
The Luddy makerspaces used their resources to support the creation of personal protective equipment for medical personnel. Our Crisis Technologies Innovation Lab provided analytics and data science tools in collaboration with public and private entities to help respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Researchers used supercomputing and machine learning to create a model of the SARS-Cov-2 virus to explore how it would react to various treatments and how it impacts the human body. Our faculty created models about how misinformation affects the spread of COVID-19, and they used surveys to discover how the disease is affecting people’s lives.
These are just a few of the countless efforts the Luddy School is involved with to help battle the COVID-19 outbreak in the larger world, and we’re committed to being an important part of the solution while also maintaining the best standards of safety for our students, faculty, and staff.
To that end, our summer school offerings were moved into the virtual realm this year, and we’ve been tirelessly preparing for a fall semester that will again force us to adapt to a new routine.
IU is planning to welcome students back in the fall, but we’re adapting our curriculum to serve the educational needs of our students while also acknowledging the realities of our post-COVID-19 world. New practices will include more virtual learning, efforts to establish proper social distancing guidelines, the use of face masks, and stringent cleaning and sanitizing procedures that will allow us to once again come together as a family while keeping each other as safe as possible.
Again, I recognize all of this will be a challenge, but if the past few months have reinforced anything I already ready knew about the Luddy School, it’s that our students, faculty, and staff are more than willing to rise up and succeed over any obstacle in their path.
One day, our students will again take trips overseas to explore the impact of technology on other cultures. They will travel around the U.S. to see how tech is shaping the experiences of visitors to theme parks and what lessons can be taught by those efforts. Our students in ISE will enjoy the full benefit of the foundation that has been laid by the first graduating class. Other students will someday build on the research and tools that have been developed at the Luddy School during the pandemic, and they will help us better respond to future crisis.
We’ve included some of those stories in this newsletter, and I encourage you to read some of the inspiring stories of what we’ve accomplished at the Luddy School in recent months.
It’s difficult to know for certain what the future holds. That’s another lesson that has been reinforced lately. But I have complete faith that no matter what the next challenge might be, the Luddy School will continue to be a leader both on campus and in the world.
That is my vision for the school, and it’s a vision that will never waver.