Chemical Engineering Student Group Forms Virtual Study Lounge

A group of students in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering created a way to come to together to study, do homework and build community while social distancing.

At a student chapter meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a global organization of chemical engineering professionals and students, chapter secretary John Zimmerman mentioned he was looking into ways for students in the department to meet virtually. The Chemical Engineering Lounge where students can gather to study is at reduced capacity because of COVID-19.

"Early on in our officer meetings, we knew that the possibility of in-person interactions shutting down was high, so we were looking for ways to keep the CHEG students involved," Zimmerman said. "As a junior, I knew from my sophomore year the benefits of having a shared space for CHEG students to collaborate. I was hoping that CHEG students, sophomores especially, would be able to have a comparable experience. The CHEG lounge was a place that facilitated studying with my classmates as well as meeting new people. These study groups are still beneficial for me today in my involvement in the CHEG department."

Kayliana Warden, AIChE internal programs officer, had used Microsoft Teams in two of her previous internships and thought the platform would work well for the department and the idea of the Virtual CHEG Lounge was born.

"Our students have always been the best source of ideas for building a sense of community in the department, and the pandemic hasn't changed that.  I'm thankful to our AIChE Student Chapter leadership for this great idea of a virtual lounge, which I am pleased to support," said David Ford, department head of the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering.

Warden began the process of setting up the Virtual CHEG Lounge on Microsoft Teams shortly after the meeting. The Virtual CHEG Lounge has a general page where students can chat and meet virtually and separate channels for individual classes for breakout sessions. The lounge went live in early September.

"The CHEG Lounge is an incredible asset to all of our students," Warden said. "While it is important for engineers to be able to problem solve on their own, collaboration is also a necessary skill for industry or research. CHEG classes can also be pretty difficult, so it's important to have someone to work through problems with when you get stuck or don't understand something. Even though the virtual space doesn't 100% imitate the CHEG Lounge, it still allows students to share their files and questions or meet via video calls. Hopefully, this will allow our students to remain close or build relationships in the case of our new students."

Contacts

Emily Thompson, coordinator and research communications specialist
Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering
479-575-4951, eet002@uark.edu

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, ndemoss@uark.edu

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