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Emergency Notification

Dean Emily Allen's Message - February 2021

Emily Alen, Dean College of ECST
Dr. Emily Allen, Dean, College of ECST

Friends, when our last InSights Online came out it was just after Thanksgiving 2020 and we were finishing up our first fully remote semester. Here we are again, with a fully remote Spring semester underway and not knowing what the Fall will bring. At this point, we are planning for some in-person Fall classes, but of course, the vaccine rollout and the state of the pandemic will determine everything in the end. Cal State LA has opened one of the first federal vaccination sites in the country, which will help protect the communities that surround us and which our students and many of our employees call home.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting tired of my own cooking! Working at home is wearing thin after almost a year.  Of course, some losses are not recoverable and we all know many friends as well as students and employees who have lost friends and family members to Covid-19. Some have lost jobs and homes as well, making it hard for them to continue with school. However, the vast majority of Cal State LA students are still working hard and engaged in their classes. Our faculty are home-schooling their own kids while mentoring research projects and teaching remotely. Like the rest of the world, the pandemic is bringing out the stuff we are all are made of – and ECST is made of resilient stuff.

In my last message, I mentioned that we would soon hold a Silver Lining Town Hall. The purpose was to glean from our faculty, staff, and students what aspects of our pandemic operations would be worth keeping when we return to “normal” in-person operations. We also examined ways in which we can do remote instruction better. Not surprisingly, the #1 improved aspect of our operations was the paperless processes for just about everything on campus—a big change from a campus that formerly relied on A LOT of wet signatures. Now, everything from purchasing to grade changes is done digitally.

Makes you wonder why people take so long to change, doesn’t it?

Remote teaching has really made faculty dig deep into ways to engage students online and in some cases, this new mode has resulted in much more engagement than in-person classes. All during Fall semester and continuing into the Spring, faculty have participated in our Virtual ECST Teaching and Learning Academy to share their remote teaching improvements and lessons learned, including new ways of increasing student-faculty interaction, and “tricks of the trade” for giving fair online exams—not a simple thing to do. I believe that due to the heavy lifting that has been required during the pandemic, our in-person instruction will improve when we return to campus.  Our professional advisers in the ECST Student Success Center and department faculty advisers have developed effective remote advising structures using new technologies to continuously support our students during this time of tremendous need.

We continue to reach out to alumni through the newly established ECST Alumni Network. Whether you’re just starting your career, at its peak, or enjoying well-deserved retirement, we love to hear about what you’re doing! In this issue of the ECST newsletter, we’ve got a great story about our many alums working at JPL on the Perseverance Mars 2020 mission, which is due to land on Mars right after this issue hits your mailbox!

In early February 2021, I attended (virtually) the American Society for Engineering Education Public Policy Colloquium for Deans, a gathering I usually attend in Washington, DC. Along with eight other CSU Engineering Deans, I met with nine different senate and congressional offices, sometimes with the member and sometimes with their staff. We were able to deliver some bragging points about our campuses and talk about the importance of the CSU to California and the nation; make clear our concerns about immigration restrictions that have devastated our graduate programs and impacted some of our faculty; and advocate for continued COVID-related funding for higher education, support of Dreamers, and federal agency funding for minority-serving institutions such as ours.

We also heard from the heads of the National Science Foundation, DARPA, and numerous other federal research agencies and discussed the future of engineering education. Preparing engineers to solve the nation’s resiliency challenges and efforts to improve racial equity on campuses were top of mind with deans across the country. We all lamented missing each other and our very useful networking opportunities in the evenings. We had to raise our glasses alone to the next time we meet in the nation’s capital instead of on Zoom.

Many of you responded to our calls for end-of-year donations and we are deeply grateful. In this issue, we provide an overview of the $1.13 million in philanthropic and personal gifts from all of you. We couldn’t do it without you. We also highlight some very special gifts this year. Our student needs during the pandemic continue to increase. Scholarships go a long way as do general donations, which we can use to hire students as peer mentors for other students. This is a neat way to leverage a gift so it helps many more students at a time.

Please stay well, get your vaccinations, and stay in touch with ECST!

Contribute to ECST

Want to help us provide the best education possible to current students?
Please donate to:

  • the Acceleration Initiative
  • the ECST Student Success Fund
  • the Dean’s Fund for Innovation
  • the Makerspace Fund

For more information about making an impactful gift, please contact me directly at ([email protected]) or Kevin Doody at ([email protected]). You can also give online at

Connect with Fellow ECST Alums

Want to connect with fellow ECST alums? Join me, along with ECST Alumni Network Chairs Maida Lopez (BSEE ’03), and Ricson Chude (BSME ’08), for our second alumni virtual social hour during E-Week in February 2021 ( Hear ECST updates, meet other alumni, and learn about the ECST Alumni Network and its mission to support you! For more information on the network, to register for the upcoming social, and to sign up for the Alumni Network mailing list, please visit the ECST Alumni Network website.

Join the ECST Speakers Bureau

Looking for a way to give back to students? How about joining our Speakers Bureau? This new ECST initiative will help us create a repository of potential speakers for the College. We’ll be able to share your interest in speaking with the appropriate departments, student organizations, alumni network, and faculty. We’ll ask you fill out an online form with the background information, and then we’ll get in touch when the right opportunity arises. This might be a presentation by video conference or in person when we’re back on campus. Thanks for signing up!