This summer, 23 first-year College of Sciences students in China faced a delayed start to their academic careers, with pandemic and travel visa restrictions postponing fall trips to Atlanta and the Georgia Tech campus.
Now, those students are part of a group of 98 first-year students who are keeping up with their peers by starting classes and the college experience from another campus: Georgia Tech-Shenzhen in China. A similar effort is underway on the Georgia-Tech Lorraine campus.
"Our local staff members have worked extremely hard to accommodate these students," says G. Tong Zhou, Director of Georgia Tech-Shenzhen. "Undergraduates and graduate students who serve as teaching assistants in computer science and physics labs will help with the new students. Team leaders from the GT1000 program are also assisting."
"Thus we are able to create a healthy ‘eco-system’ from a non-ideal situation," Zhou says.
The full group of 98 students represent all six colleges at Georgia Tech. The 23 College of Sciences students are majoring in biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, mathematics, physics, and psychology.
"Georgia Tech's ability to provide this opportunity for a group of international students who could not begin their college experience in Atlanta is very creative," says David Collard, Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Sciences. "In addition to learning from our faculty, the students are immersed in a true Georgia Tech experience. Starting in Shenzhen will allow the students to make progress towards their degrees, which otherwise would not be possible."
"This has been a true team effort with coordination between Professor Zhou, the instructors for our courses here in Atlanta, and the in-person studio lecturers in Shenzhen,” says Rachel Kuske, Chair of the School of Mathematics. “They are participating from local universities in China, to work with our instructors here, to deliver in-person studios as part of the courses."
Zhou hopes the new students will make a successful transition to the Georgia Tech academic system this semester, and then make the physical transition to the Atlanta campus in early 2021. Collard echoes those thoughts.
"On behalf of the College let me add an especially warm welcome to the students in Shenzhen who are planning to major in a field of science or mathematics. We look forward to meeting you in person in the near future," Collars shares.
And while the School of Physics has offered online physics classes over past summer semesters, as well as specifically for Georgia Tech-Lorraine students during fall and spring semesters, this fall marks the first time it has expanded into classes for Georgia Tech-Shenzhen students.
"It's been really fortunate that we've been able to do this, for both the undergrad students in Shenzhen but also for our graduate TAs," says Emily Alicea-Munoz, a research technician II in the School of Physics. “Some of our international grad students have been unable to come back to the U.S. due to the pandemic, and some of them are in China. The students in Shenzhen will be able to have synchronous remote meetings with Physics TAs who are in the same time zone. This means no classes in the middle of the night for anyone.”