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Highlights 2020

Prof. Vincent Kaufmann, Vice-Dean for Education and Knowledge Transfer

At this time last year, when we were asked to shift all our classes online, I was surprised at just how smoothly everything went. Going through all of the course content and adapting it to a remote-teaching format was not easy – our teachers had to spend a considerable amount of time and energy and demonstrate a great deal of flexibility. But they got it done. I would like to thank everyone on the ENAC faculty for their efforts.

Of course, 2020 was also a difficult year for our students. Regrettably, some of them ended up withdrawing from our school, but that number was undoubtedly lower than it could have been. Our students also had to change the way they work and keep their motivation up despite everything – especially the lack of social contact and interaction with their teachers. With these lines I wish to recognize their courage and determination.

The pandemic is not over, and it’s too soon to do a proper assessment. But I think there are lessons to be learned about how we can do things better going forward. One example is the personalized, online support we began to offer our Master’s students, in particular, for their ENAC and semester projects. This support proved effective, and we can provide more of it, including for students who are off campus and out in the field. It’s a new approach, and it gives us flexibility in how we reach out to others. It’s also a good complement to those essential face-to-face meetings that I can’t wait to hold again.

Architecture students trade their pencils for 3D software
EPFL’s first-year architecture students usually do their drawings by hand. But this spring they had to use 3D drawing software – which they were trained on in two short weeks.
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EPFL students make 3D-printed shields to protect against Covid-19
Using a 3D printing kit, ten ENAC students are working from home to make face shields for healthcare workers.
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ENAC Week – thinking about life after coronavirus
ENAC Bachelor’s students became amateur video makers during ENAC Week – one of the school’s interdisciplinary initiatives – as they looked with relevance and critical mind at how our world needs to change to make it more resilient.
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Showcasing reuse principles at a tram depot and sculpture park
Students from EPFL’s EAST laboratory have installed recycled lights and restrooms at the Bex & Arts sculpture triennial – set to run from 22 June to 18 October – and repurposed parts of a disused tram depot in Bern. Both projects demonstrate the merits of using reclaimed materials.
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EPFL architecture students publish their designs in print
EPFL’s first-year architecture students usually have the chance to build full-scale versions of their designs. But this year’s cohort will instead publish a book featuring blueprints for structures along the banks of the Rhône and Arve rivers in Geneva
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Modeling avalanche protection in forests
Two EPFL students have compared the ability of a forest in Vaud Canton to protect against avalanches before and after it was ravaged by fire in 2018. Their method could be applied to other forested slopes, helping to enhance local reforestation strategies.
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“Civil engineering is crucial for damaged structures in Gaza”
Currently a PhD student in Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics at EPFL, Mahmoud S. M. Shaqfa had to struggle to be able to study outside Gaza. His life has taken him on a one-way trip unlike any other.
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Bike-and-ride, an innovative opportunity for the Lake Geneva region
As part of his Master's project at EPFL's Urban Sociology Laboratory (LASUR), Felix Boesch conducted a survey on the combined use of bicycles and trains in the Lausanne and Nyon urban agglomerations.
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“I never imagined I could use math to study nature”
Devis Tuia, who hails from Mendrisio in Ticino Canton, is a well-traveled man. His career has taken him to Spain, the Netherlands, and now back to Switzerland, where he’s just started a new role as head of the Environmental Computational Science and Earth Observation Laboratory at EPFL’s Valais campus.
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“Our job is to put pencils back in students’ hands”
The team of teachers at the Arts of Sciences Laboratory (LAPIS) has won the best teaching award for the architecture section. Here’s a look at the scientist, lecturer, Paule Soubeyrand and her team.
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Initiatives to support EPFL students before the winter exams
EPFL students are preparing for a second round of exams under coronavirus conditions. It's not easy to stay motivated given the challenges of distance learning, lack of social contact and difficulties in maintaining study habits. But help is available.
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“Teaching is what makes me happy”
Civil engineering professor Jean-François Molinari has been named best teacher for his section.
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