Destin Heilman, associate teaching professor of chemistry and biochemistry, pivoted his remote classes by teaching with a homemade lightboard. Photo by Destin Heilman.

2020: The Year of the Pivot

As COVID-19 sent the world into quarantine and uncertainty this year, the WPI community and its leaders drew strength from the university’s roots and put theory and practice into play to make 2020 a year to remember.
December 14, 2020

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a five-part series reflecting on how the WPI community remained strong, stayed the course, and turned up its innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part 1: The University’s Response: How WPI adapted, and united to navigate the 2019–20 academic year.

WPI's Coronavirus Emergency Response Team (CERT) convened for the first time in January. Over the past 10 months CERT has gathered leaders from throughout the university to focus on all aspects of campus health, safety, and academics. Pulling together teams of problem-solving experts, CERT set rigorous planning into motion—all with an eye toward moving the campus forward with its health and safety as the top priority. By working to help the community live and learn together—or in a way that best suited their needs—WPI pivoted to a higher level of innovation to make the academic year as successful as possible. That creativity led to health and wellness programs and initiatives such as TechFlex, a thoughtful approach that reimagined when, where, and how we deliver our distinctive education. Resulting stories showed how the university adapted health-conscious behaviors to keep its campus community safe, how departments stepped up to prepare faculty and staff to work remotely, and how students made a global impact from their homes.

Local and national media captured snapshots of how the WPI community learned and adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

-The Wall Street Journal - Aug. 18: What I Learned on My Summer Internship: How to Work Alone 

-The Worcester Business Journal - Aug. 17: Central Mass. Colleges Face an Unprecedented Semester 

-The Wall Street Journal - March 29: The Class of 2020 Was Headed Into a Hot Job Market. Then Coronavirus Hit. 


Coming tomorrow: WPI prioritizes health and safety while guiding students, faculty, and staff through a pandemic.

—Jessica Messier