Through a series of online welcome events, Yannis Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, faculty and staff addressed USC Viterbi students and their families, both new and returning. With the switch to fully online learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering a sense of community and belonging in the USC Viterbi family has never been more important.
In a number of events for parents of students on August 11 and August 12, Yortsos spoke about the rapid changes taking place in our world and the ever-expanding role of engineering in shaping the future of our society.
“These past months, we learned how important science and engineering are to bringing an end to the contagion,” he said. “We learned how much we should value education, particularly in times of exponential change like today, where uninformed decisions can lead to very impactful consequences. We also learned, much more than we anticipated, the importance of valuing our fellow humans, to uphold our collective humanity, to open our hearts and minds to inclusion and understanding, and to work to eliminate inequities. ‘We are in this together’ is for all of us, for all people, in all parts of the world.”
At the same event, Kelly Goulis, senior associate dean for admission and student engagement, talked about the staff and resources at USC Viterbi that will help students through their college journeys. From the academic services team to a group of faculty dedicated to preparing students for their future careers, Goulis highlighted many of the outstanding resources available to Viterbi students.
“We have many staff here to support our students,” she said. “Our doors are always open, and we want you to come and engage with us.”
Parents then had the opportunity to ask Yortsos and Goulis questions about the upcoming year.
When asked about the future of engineering education, Yortsos said that more emphasis would be placed on human-centric engineering to handle the growing challenges facing our society – even after the pandemic is under control.
“In the post-COVID era, there will be a focus on challenges such as sustainability and climate change,” he said. “I think we will be wiser as a society and as people, and this will enable us to put more emphasis into the things that we value the most.”
Goulis spoke about the Experience Viterbi app. She explained that it will serve as a hub for students to find information and get involved, both academically and socially.
“There will be an involvement fair, a women in engineering launch, hackathons, internship opportunities, game nights and Netflix movie nights,” she said. “There’s a plethora of things happening, and the Experience Viterbi app is one way for students to make sure they are able to get involved.”.
In a welcome event for freshman and transfer students on Aug. 13, Yortsos highlighted the diverse backgrounds of the incoming class.
“You come from 36 different countries and 44 different states,” he said. “Nearly 50% of the 470 incoming Viterbi freshmen are women – more than double the national average.”
In a sentiment echoed at both events, Yortsos emphasized the school’s mission and the integral role incoming students will play in making it a reality.
“I believe that more than ever before, our mission is to engineer a better world for all humanity,” he said. “The world impatiently needs talented engineers with the skills and mindsets to help engineer a fast recovery and a new and bright future.”