While the pandemic has added innumerable challenges, it has also provided an opportunity for higher-learning institutions to re-think and prioritize initiatives aimed at student support.
“The Institute offers many meaningful resources for students. Due to our proximity with our community, ECE has an important vantage point to understand student needs and deliver on them,” said Arijit Raychowdhury, the Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of ECE. “We want all students to know that we’re here for them and have their back.”
One of Raychowdhury’s top priorities since becoming chair in December 2021 has been to create sustainable, recurring student support initiatives that can be embedded within the School and live beyond a particular chair’s tenure. As the world and Georgia Tech return to more in-person activities and a new “normal,” the School has launched the new initiative, ECE Cares.
While still in development, ECE Cares is an umbrella program to capture initiatives aimed at strengthening student support and community building. ECE Cares will be incorporated throughout the many levels of the School by reinforcing existing initiatives and creating new ones.
One such program took place before spring semester finals on April 16, when nearly 600 ECE undergraduate and” “graduate students attended the first-ever Pre-Finals Student Wellness Drop-In located in TI Plaza (outside Van Leer). Students built their own care packages — with study supplies, snacks, and ECE swag — to prep for finals. The event was organized by the Student/Faculty Committee and the ECE Student Advisory Council.
Another fundamental goal of ECE Cares is to alleviate the financial burden associated with attending college. There are many additional costs students are required to fund outside of tuition, books, and room and board, including course supplies and equipment. This spring, ECE was able to purchase 550 myDAQs from National Instruments which students can now check out from the Georgia Tech Library. The program also uniquely aids non-ECE majors, as many students within the College of Engineering are required (or elect) to take some myDAQ-required courses. Additionally, ECE launched a Computer Loaner Program to provide laptops to ECE students if their computing equipment is being repaired.
With the success of these loaner programs, ECE Cares now plans to set up a similar offering for 450 Mbed devices. Combined, the prog”rams will effectively eliminate more than $500 per ECE student on course equipment fees, and will lower financial barriers for up to 4,000 students each semester across campus.
Furthermore, ECE has hired a new academic professional position with a focus on student engagement and well-being initiatives. Along with peer counselors, this important position will work directly with students and faculty members to build on and improve the ECE student experience.