Developing Creative Solutions to COVID-19 Challenges

Individual Learning Experience Provides Self-Designed Opportunities for Students To Address Pandemic

During The Arch, all students will spend a fall or spring semester of their junior year participating in an off-campus Individual Learning Experience (ILE), which could take the form of an internship or co-op, international or national opportunity (i.e., study abroad or study at another U.S. institution), or research, civic engagement, or a self-designed experience.

As a top-tier technological research university in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, Rensselaer has developed opportunities for students to immerse themselves in a meaningful self-designed Arch spring semester-away experience to develop creative solutions to COVID-19-related challenges.

This self-designed Individual Learning Experience (ILE) will focus on key areas, allowing students to work individually or in teams, with the guidance and support from faculty advisers to address challenging issues created by, or stemming from, the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this experience, students will have the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge while expanding the scope of their learning in an area that aligns with their goals and interests.

Examples of themes and key areas include:

  • Data-driven pandemic prediction, management, and mitigation
  • Engineering solutions to emergent medical needs
  • Agile manufacturing and robust supply chains to meet societal needs
  • Alleviating stress in the era of social/physical distancing
  • Privacy and security issues relating to health data
  • New online methods for education, communication, and building multicultural sophistication

This self-designed experience will include a special focus on interdisciplinary work while connecting students to various departments and schools across the Institute.

Examples of research structure and interdisciplinary models include:

  • Analyzing data and trends around contact tracing, epidemiological spread, and testing density
  • Building new manufacturing models for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Designing games to build, educate, inform, and protect communities
  • Creating predictive cost analysis around the financial and economic impact of COVID-19 on various sectors, institutions, or fields
  • Designing new transportation models and schedules to minimize urban traffic and maximize physical distancing during the reopening of the economy
  • Analyzing state agency responses with respect to supply chain, delivery of key food and medical supplies, and manufacturing/production strategies
  • Addressing cybersecurity and/or disinformation issues that could arise in software applications for personal health, voting systems that maintain social distancing, and disease tracking systems

“We are very excited about this initiative that will help couple our undergraduates on Arch to engage with, and expand, our research activities focused on addressing the pandemic,” said Robert Hull, acting vice president for research.