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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 ; 2021.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1695395


Creating community among new graduate students in a COVID world prompted the development of a two-week virtual orientation program for engineering and applied sciences graduate students at a research university. Despite the complexity of multiple time zones, technology challenges, and the virtual space, the program sought to accomplish three goals: (1) community building among students;(2) intellectual engagement with faculty in the home departments;and (3) career development as a foundation for their overall graduate school experience. Participants (N=350 MS or PhD students) were introduced to support services (e.g., health and counseling, ombuds) and student organizations, attended workshops on digital literacy and technology tools, gained perspective from alumni and industry panels, and began their personal career development plan. Evaluations were highly positive, with means of 3.5 - 4.4 on a 5.0 scale, with 5 being very satisfied. Additionally, 98 first-year PhD students were also enrolled in a rigorous and comprehensive online asynchronous TA training, with high satisfaction scores from those who completed the training. While virtual delivery may have limitations, this program has clearly demonstrated that a pre-arrival program can add value to the graduate student on-boarding process and improve the welcome culture at educational institutions. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2021