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December 24, 2020 - 09:23h] Director’s Notes. Situation at December 24, 2020. –COVID-19 MERRY CRHISTMAS.

Dear friends,

this we hope will be the last message of "Director's Notes" of this "historic" 2020 year. And I write "hoping" in a conscious way because over the last few months we have learned that things can change at any time and we have to adapt to be able to overcome. Unfortunately, this has been verified in the first person by our colleagues who have suffered, or are still suffering, the pandemic consequences on their health. I would like to extend a very strong virtual hug to all of you in order to convey the support and encouragement from the whole community. A lot of strength!

On the other hand, this is also the first message I send after the election period and re-election as Director of the ESEIAAT. I cannot help but thank you, once again, for the trust placed in the entire Management Team in these hard times. I also want to personally thank you for all the suggestions and concerns you have given us in the various meetings we have held with PDI, PAS and Students. We take note and will continue to work for the ESEIAAT community. Thank you so much!

At the global level of society, the last few weeks have been full of contradictions with health indicators that seem to be evolving negatively, disparate restrictive measures and a big hope focused on an impending vaccination. We have the feeling that everything can change at any time…

However, at the School we have not stopped working for a moment, we continue being a center for the generation of academic activity (even if part of it is virtually). I take this opportunity to highlight some relevant facts that I think it is appropriate for the community to know:

  • New UPC-HP Business Chair . The UPC and HP have signed an agreement to create the chair ' Hub of Innovation in Digital Manufacturing HP-UPC ', the first in the area of additive manufacturing in Catalonia and based at the ESEIAAT (link).
  • The ESEIAAT is linked to several international conferences. On the one hand, we will coordinate the th Symposium on Space Educational Activities of the European Space Agency ( ESA ) and we will host the presentation of experiments in April 2022 (link). On the other hand, the School has been selected as the venue for the 2022 IEEE World Congress on Services (Computers, Software and Applications), with an expected participation of about 800 experts, from the computer field, from all over the world. And we are also partners of the Mobile Week in Terrassa in June 2021, an initiative framed within the Mobile World Congress of Barcelona (link).
  • ESEIAAT participates in various tractor projects. To name a few, the School is promoting the Digital Impulse Hub promoted by the Chamber of Commerce of Terrassa and which wants to grow a strategic line of the city focused on digital transformation (link). We have also become a collaborating entity of the European Galactica Project that combines research and development in topics specific to our studies such as aeronautics, textile design and advanced manufacturing (link). We are headquarters and participate in the Emerging Looming Factory Group which aims to group, consolidate and guide current research in Industry 4.0 of the main R & D centers in Catalonia (link) and we are also headquarters and participate in the XAFIR Network (Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in Terrassa 2019-2023) which aims to be a reference network in R & D & I within the Industry 4.0 field.
  • Pioneering research at the UPC-Terrassa. Recently, for the first time in the world, an antitumor biomembrane was successfully implanted in a patient at the Hospital de la Santa Creu y Sant Pau (historical fact). The membrane was designed and created with the participation of our colleague José Antonio Tornero, a researcher at Intexter, and represents a great scientific advance in the fight against cancer.

This good news shows that, despite the widespread situation of discouragement, the School does not stop and continues to lead or participate in multiple initiatives that contribute to further consolidating us as a referent in the various fields of engineering.

I take this opportunity to remind you to pay attention to the institutional e-mail and other regular communication channels, in case there are any important changes that affect the return of the holidays. In order to be informed, you can follow the ESEIAAT profiles (eseiaat_upc) on the different social networks: Instagram, Telegram and Twitter.

As regards infrastructure COVID at the school, in the coming the last actions will be completed to technologically adapt the classrooms that still did not yet allow the transmission of classes in streaming. In total there will be 59 adapted classrooms that will allow the realization of hybrid classes, if necessary, for the next semester. This last action is in addition to those that have already been done before: the enabling of Espai 24 for study in times of pandemic, the loan of computer equipment to follow virtual classes, classrooms in "cinema" mode. for students who travel to the center to do internships, renovate auditoriums, the ICT plan for the renewal of PDI computer equipment, the installation of QR codes in classrooms and the improvement of ventilation systems in certain classrooms.

In relation to the last point, during the month of November the influx of students in the face-to-face partial exams was taken advantage to carry out a campaign of thermal and CO 2 measurements in the spaces with greater occupation. The results have shown that the current ventilation protocols of the School work properly (link).

And referring to the latest assessments (partial exams), it should be noted that there was no significant impact on either the virtual exams (approximately 75%) or those that were face-to-face, although the simultaneity of the two types of exams and the 'increase in the number of people in the School posed a great organizational and logistical challenge. Everything worked well, being a positive experience for the final exams that will follow the same line of face-to-face / non-face-to-face cohabitation. By this January approximately 40% of final exams will be face-to-face.

The protocols of access and permanence to the center during the final evaluations are being sent to the different groups, and we ask the whole community to follow them as it did in November, showing a great sense of collective responsibility. You will also be informed on how to contact the Non-Face-to-Face Exam Support Group, who could assist you in real time if needed.

In any case, it is important that all the coordinators of the subjects who have planned to take face-to-face exams have prepared a contingency assessment plan in case the Health restrictions are tightened in January. Remember to report any pandemic incidents to .

This vagueness is awkward but we must act prudently. In fact, prudence makes us postpone the definition of what exactly the Teaching Model of the spring semester will be. UPC is waiting in early January to analyse the data and the evolution of the pandemic more reliably. It is worth mentioning that in recent months, external circumstances have made us go through 4 different Teaching Models at School: 0% attendance (incidence of the pandemic), attendance reduced to 50% of maximum occupancy (July forecast), attendance limited to first-year students, internships and assessments (September) and, finally, attendance restricted to internships and assessments only (November).

The alternatives we are working with for the Teaching Model in the spring are the same. The Rector's Office has agreed that it is premature to make a decision when we do not yet have a closer forecast of what may happen. As I mentioned before, we are in early January 2021.

What we are sure of is that in any case we will work to get you the maximum support from the School, in particular to deal with virtual teaching, and we have already announced that we will do the necessary adhoc training, in addition to maintaining the TAAIESE website (link) where you can find practical information to adapt subjects and assessment tests.

A large part of the support related to Student Support Scholarships for mentoring, teaching support, etc ... will also be maintained. Please pay attention to the announcements that will be published soon.

And to end by commenting that in the last Standing Committee held this Tuesday 22 approved the Calendar of spring exams. You will soon have it posted on the web. We all wish it could be met without incident.

Finally, the uncertainty of what may happen in a few days is a new constant in our lives. But we must continue to work and prepare different scenarios to be as prepared as possible for potential future situations. But we also need to rest.

The exhaustion we all carry (students and college staff) is terrible. It is clear that the joy we often had in the days before the Christmas holidays has been watered down by the vagueness of our environment. We couldn’t even get together to make the traditional Christmas toast. We have not done because of responsibility, and I ask you to please continue to be deeply responsible with the health measures. But I would also like to ask you to take care of yourself emotionally, because we all risk our health, including mental health, which is often despised. Please rest and disconnect (but check the email from time to time for any urgent news ...).

This strange 2020 is coming to an end and 2021 will start with the hope of vaccination, but the price we have paid and are paying is very high. We don't want to lose anyone; we count on all of you to come back!!!

A huge hug to everyone and take great care!!


Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021.

Xavier Roca

Director of the ESEIAAT

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