COVID-19 STUDENT FAQS

With 2020W taking place online, we understand that students have a lot of questions about how this will impact their courses, their degree plans, and their finances or assistantships. Below are some of the most common questions we have received from students. If you don’t see your question we encourage you to submit it using the form at the bottom of the page.

What is the School doing to prepare for online teaching?

To prepare for online teaching, SBME is undertaking a huge pedagogical project, while simultaneously delivering a brand new innovative undergraduate program. A task force of three faculty and two staff is leading a department-wide project into understanding, sharing, learning, and developing best practices for teaching online, from second year through to graduate courses. A previously existing Canvas course for all of our instructional has been reutilized to act as a COVID pedagogy resource, department-wide meetings and workshops are being held weekly, and we’ve hired an instructor to focus on delivering courses online and act as a faculty resource and consultant. We’re in the process of rethinking how we deliver our labs and are looking into new options, like lab-in-a-box activities. In total, including investments into additional TAs and academic assistants, software, staff time, and other expenses, SBME is investing significant resources beyond normal teaching expenses into online teaching in term one.

Do I need to be in Vancouver to take classes online?

No, all of our courses for Term 1 will be delivered online. You do need to ensure you have a stable internet connection and a computer capable of running a relatively current operating system. If you are in a project course, expect to have to coordinate with teammates on collaborative work online and be available to participate in voice or video conversations.

What computer hardware will I need?

You will need a computer with reliable internet access, a speaker and microphone (headphones with a microphone is fine), a webcam, and a way of scanning your work so you can submit it - either a scanner or a smartphone with a scanning app that produces .pdf files.

You will also need to be able to run the engineering software needed for your course, or be able to run a virtual desktop. We strongly recommend running software locally if at all possible.

Is the SBME Student Services office physically open during this time?

Our physical offices are closed, but all services are continuing as usual.

How can I access a member of the SBME Student Services team?

For undergraduate student inquiries, email undergrad@bme.ubc.ca

For current graduate student inquiries, email students@bme.ubc.ca

For graduate admission inquiries, email admissions@bme.ubc.ca

For awards inquiries, email awards@bme.ubc.ca

What are the hours of operations that I can expect to hear from staff?

Our regular hours of operation remain 8:30am-4:00pm

Where can I find mental health support or resources?

Visit our resources at Health and Wellness

Can student teams continue to work in small groups at UBC campus?

Teams should not work together in person at this time on campus.Where possible, students are encouraged to work, collaborate and meet to discuss team projects using online, video conferencing and other electronic tools where possible, and hold team meetings remotely. More information on student teams can be found at FAQ: ESS.

What about student travel to conferences and other events?

At this time we are recommending that students avoid all unnecessary and non-essential travel until further notice. Students are encouraged to work with organizers to determine if there are alternative ways to participate in events, such as attending presentations online.

Where can I get information about UBC’s response to COVID-19? What about final exams? Graduation? Spring and summer sessions?

Refer to the FAQ on ubc.ca for the most up-to-date information.

How will lectures be managed for online courses?

Lecture format will vary depending on the course and instructor. We encourage our instructors to consider a balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods of content delivery. Lectures may be pre-recorded, or  live streamed through an online platform like Collaborate Ultra or Zoom, and recorded for later viewing by students who are in a different time zone. Students are expected to regularly keep up by either attending live lectures or by viewing video recordings within the time specified by the instructor (usually < 24 hrs). Videos may not be downloadable and may have to be viewed streaming from the host. 

Will there be online office hours?

It is the expectation of the Department that all instructors will have some mechanism for students to contact them and ask questions, whether that be through pre-scheduled office hours, or office hours by appointment. Students should consult their course syllabi or contact their instructors if they have questions about what office hours are available for their online courses.

Will there be alternate office hours, lectures, tutorials, etc to accommodate students in other time zones?

While we recognize that not everyone who will be participating in online courses will be living in Vancouver, and while we will attempt to accommodate such students as much as possible, the nominal schedule for the course will be principally aligned with the Pacific time zone. We will, in general, not require you to participate in activities occurring between 10 PM and 6 AM in your local time zone, and will, as much as possible, attempt to provide alternatives to participating in such activities, but we cannot guarantee that alternative activities will necessarily be made available. In particular, synchronous learning activities (i.e., those in which the instructor or TAs are present at the same time as participating students) may not be offered at alternative times.

Will exams be centrally scheduled based on normal Pacific Standard time (as usual)?

Yes, exams will be centrally scheduled on Pacific Standard time, as normal. Many faculty will be offering asynchronous final exams for those for whom the centrally scheduled time would be the middle of the night. Please check your syllabus or talk to your instructor early in the term if you have any concerns about the timing of the exam based on your time zone/location.

Will there be labs for online courses?

All courses which normally have a lab will have an adapted lab section. These will primarily consist of one of two types of lab: video labs and lab-in-a-box labs.

In a video lab, you will observe a video of a TA or staff member completing a lab exercise, then be given a data set to analyze and discuss. The goal of this type of lab is to ensure you can visualize the fundamental principles, theories, or applications that have been discussed in your lecture and/or tutorial.

How will capstone be managed in an online format?

Due to safety guidelines related to COVID-19, students are recommended to follow public health guidance. We recommend virtual methods to work together, meet with their teams, the instructional team and the clients (at least for the fall term). In general, instructors will try to place students who are living in different time zones on teams that can accommodate these differences. UBC will provide collaboration software to help you work together and work with your instructor. The exact software is to be confirmed.

Prototyping may happen off-campus or through service companies (i.e. 3D printing, laser cutting, water jet parts and CNC machining, PCB shops, etc.). Depending on the project, students may be able to do some prototyping and testing in their own homes. The instructors recognize it may not be possible to replicate all of the same lessons that come from working through the fabrication, assembly, and field testing of your designs if prototyping is not possible. Regardless, they’re assessing a number of strategies to provide comprehensive learning experiences. They will also be taking the opportunity to mirror what engineering currently looks like in many private-sector offices – that is, engineering teams collaborating remotely with online tools to design high-quality equipment and products.

What will happen to capstone if term 2 is online?

It is still unclear whether in person classes or working together in small groups will be permitted in Term 2. Should health and university regulations permit, we hope that we will be able to configure courses so that limited on-campus lab and shop activities may be possible by then. Capstone will continue regardless of whether term 2 is in person or online. Teams will have equitable access to campus resources as constraints permit. If term 2 is online only, expect a reduced emphasis on physical prototyping and heavier emphasis on deeper technical analysis, simulation, and design in detail.

Can I defer capstone if it's not going to be in person this year?

Students can choose to drop BMEG 457 from their STT for the current year and return in 21W to complete it; however, it will extend their degree time by an additional year.

If you are unable to drop Capstone in SISC yourself, please contact undergrad@bme.ubc.ca and one of our advisors will help you drop it.

What engineering software will be available to me?

We are working to ensure all software required for your courses will be available to you.  It is likely that you will be asked to download and install software on your own computer, and then connect using a VPN to a UBC license server.  This will require you to have a reasonably modern computer and a reliable internet connection.  Some software, such as Solidworks, requires Windows.  CAD software often runs best with a GPU, particularly NX.  Specifications for which courses need which software and what each package needs to run will be available soon.

Where can I find support when I have problems getting software run on my own computer?

The APSC Student Software Helpdesk will open soon. 

If I'm in Vancouver, can I come in to use the Machine Shop or computer labs (or any other facilities)?

Engineering buildings are currently closed to all but those authorized to return to work. Accordingly, the machine shop, CHBE lab, and computer labs are not open for student use.

How will I get textbooks/note packs for my course?

Instructors are trying, where possible, to utilize online resources for students to access, such as ebooks or online materials available through the UBC library. Where textbooks are required that are not available free online, students should order their books as soon as possible through the UBC Bookstore. The UBC Bookstore is offering shopping online for ebooks (when available) or physical books which can then be shipped to your location, or curbside pickup may be available. Please check out their website for the most up to date information: https://bookstore.ubc.ca/online-orders-delivery-options.

How can I book an advising appointment?

All students with a UBC CWL can book an appointment with an academic advisor using the APSC PD Portal (https://pdportal.apsc.ubc.ca/students/student-login.htm). If you do not have a UBC CWL and would like to speak to an advisor, please email students@bme.ubc.ca (Grad) or undergrad@bme.ubc.ca (Undergrad) to make an appointment.

Am I able to take 2 courses at the same time if they are both delivered in an online format?

Students will not be able to manually register themselves in two courses that have conflicting times. In order to be registered in courses that conflict with each other, students will be required to complete a conflict form, which includes sign off by both instructors of the courses that conflict. It will be up to individual instructors as to whether they will allow students to register in their course in conflict with another course. Please note that most courses will have both synchronous and asynchronous components, thus, it may not be possible to take two courses that are scheduled for the same time.

Once you have completed the course conflict form, you should submit it to Engineering Student Services so they can register you into the course.

What is the procedure to defer/take a year off?

Undergraduate students:

In accordance with the UBC Academic Calendar, students in ‘Good Standing’ may take an Academic Leave (time away from UBC studies) of up to one full year or 12 months. Those who choose to take one year off will be automatically assigned an Eligibility to Return (ELTR) status on their account for the following academic year. It is strongly recommended that students inform Engineering Student Services and SBME Student Services via email that they intend to take the year off.

Graduate students:

Students interested in taking a leave of absence must complete a Leave Request form and submit it to the Department for Supervisor/Director/Department Head approval. Interested students should email students@bme.ubc.ca to be sent the correct form for their program.

Students interested in deferring their start of their graduate program until September 2021 should contact admissions@bme.ubc.ca as soon as possible to discuss available options.

Can I take the year off from courses and instead complete a year-long co-op?

Any students wishing to deviate from the typical class/co-op schedule should speak to both an academic advisor in the SBME Student Services Office and an advisor in the Engineering Co-op Office to discuss their options and review any risks that are associated with going off-cycle with their course scheduling.

If I can’t find a co-op job in the fall, can I take courses instead?

Yes, you may register in term 1 courses. Please email undergrad@bme.ubc.ca or make an advising appointment if you would like assistance in planning your course schedule.

Can I lighten up my course load in the fall and extend my degree by one term/one year?

Yes, it is very common for students to extend their degree by one term or longer. We suggest that you email undergrad@bme.ubc.ca or make an advising appointment so that an advisor can look at your specific situation and offer some suggestions on how to best lighten up your course load.

Will Cr/D/F be an option for term 1 2020W?

The option to allow students to use Cr/D/F in term 2 of 2019W was a decision made at the Faculty (APSC) level, not the departmental level. Currently, we have not heard of any plans to allow this accommodation in the upcoming winter session.

Will you release extra seats for BMEG technical electives as they are online?

As room capacity will not be a restriction in term 1, we have been able to increase the size of some courses, however there will still be capacity limits on courses to maintain best practices related to pedagogy and based on resource limitations. The SSC should reflect the up to date number of seats available.

How can I ask instructors to sign forms (such as registration forms or forms for the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) if I cannot come to campus?

Electronic signatures are accepted. Please email the form (in pdf format) to the instructor and request an electronic signature.

I'm an international student and need a letter of Necessity for Essential Travel/Letter of Support from my program to enter Canada. Who do I contact?

Before submitting a request, please check if you are eligible outlined by UBC Student Services.

Undergraduate Students should submit their request to Engineering Academic Services.

Graduate Students should email students [at] bme.ubc.ca with their request. Remember to include your student number.

Do we have to pay full tuition and fees for the term if it's online?

Decisions around UBC tuition and fees are made at a university level and are not under departmental control. Please see https://students.ubc.ca/covid19/awards-loans-tuition-faq-covid-19?utm_source=covid19ubcca&utm_medium=FAQ&utm_campaign=WT1tuition#tuition2020 for the latest information about student tuition and fees.

Do we have to pay the Undergraduate BME Program Fee for the term if it's online?

Decisions around the SBME program fee are also made at the university level and are not under departmental control. If you would like to enquire about this, please send an email to undergrad@bme.ubc.ca and we will direct you to the unit who makes decisions regarding program fees.

Who should I approach for help if I have poor internet connectivity at home or do not have an appropriate computer?

If you need financial help for internet connectivity or a computer, please approach your Enrolment Services Advisor. Bursaries are available to help cover these costs for those with financial need.

Will graduate students still be able to receive their GRA stipends if they are working/studying remotely?

At this point in time, students who have a Social Insurance Number, a valid study permit and a Canadian bank account will be able to receive their stipends. It is important to note that supervisors may have changes to their financial positions and graduate student stipends will be contingent on sufficient research funds. Students will also need to discuss with their supervisors if completing their program remotely is appropriate for their research. For students without these documents, the University is exploring options and further details will be made available in August.

Will I still be able to work as a TA if I'm living outside of Vancouver? Outside of Canada?

Depending on the requirements of the instructor, working as a TA outside of Vancouver may be possible. If the TA is working out of province—but within Canada—please inform our HR team at sbme.hr@ubc.ca. Due to insurance and liability, students are not permitted to work as a TA outside of Canada.

Can tuition be paid online?

Tuition and fees can be paid online via the Student Services Center (SSC).

Submit a Question

  • Do you have a question that isn’t in our FAQ? Use the form to submit it to our team for inclusion on this page, or you can send an email to students@bme.ubc.ca for a personalized response (please send an email if your question is time-sensitive). You can also use Piazza through the online Canvas Advising course you have been enrolled in.