University of São Paulo: The University is preparing to receive students again in person

In March 2020, when the covid-19 pandemic was becoming a reality throughout the State of São Paulo, USP decided to restrict entry into its campuses, suspend classroom activities and offer all theoretical classes in virtual format. Now, with the advance of vaccination and the fall of the pandemic indicators, the University is getting ready to receive students again in person as of next Monday, October 4th.

Following this movement, in June, the General Administration Coordination (Codage) and the Budget and Heritage Commission (COP) made available R$ 150 million for the renovation of the units’ teaching environments, including libraries, and also for the improvement of the infrastructure for online activities.

“The main objective of these integrated actions is to better welcome students in their in-person return to our University. It is with responsible planning and administration that we are enabling the renewal of undergraduate and graduate teaching environments”, explains the vice-rector of USP, Antonio Carlos Hernandes.

The resources were not intended for the construction of new spaces, but for the renovation of classrooms and laboratories, purchase of material and equipment, improvement of library accessibility, expansion of the collection and adaptation to new sanitary requirements.

“Almost a decade ago, due to financial difficulties, USP did not make this type of investment. There was a lot of dammed demand. The COP understood that, with the expectation of the return, this could be a strategic moment from the point of view of budgetary sustainability”, explained the coordinator of General Administration (Codage), Luiz Gustavo Nussio.

Antonio Carlos Hernandes, vice-rector, and Luiz Gustavo Nussio, coordinator of General Administration – Photos: Marcos Santos/USP Images and Esalq/USP
Projects from all units and city halls of the campuses that sent proposals were contemplated. The execution period is up to one year.

“Returning to face-to-face activities is an opportunity to improve teaching environments. Students and professors will have to relearn how to live in the University space and the idea is that this reunion takes place in an improved environment”, explains Nussio.

Adequacy and modernization of the Faculty of Dentistry classrooms
One of the proposals contemplated by the call was from the Faculty of Dentistry (FO). The project enables the adaptation of ventilation, air conditioning and air exhaustion systems in rooms and laboratories, as well as the technological modernization of classrooms, with the replacement or installation of projection systems.

“The achievements of FO in 120 years of existence are the result of investments in the structures of teaching environments that accompany the evolution of knowledge and make, at every moment, the faculty assume the commitment to modernization and maintenance of its state of contemporaneity , with positive effects on its leadership position in dental education in the country, which for several years has been among the best dental schools in the world”, emphasizes the director of FO, Rodney Garcia Rocha.

The project also includes the maintenance of the Multidisciplinary Laboratories, including the acquisition of X-ray equipment; the replacement of the Microscopy Laboratory’s conventional to digital microscopy system; the installation of the Digital Periapical X-ray System; the computerization of clinical records, with the acquisition of tablets and computers; the reform of the Prosthetic Procedures Laboratory; and the acquisition of equipment for the Learning and Research Resource Center (Crai).

The Feed Factory of the Campus USP Fernando Costa City Hall (PUSP-FC), in Pirassununga, will also undergo a renovation. The factory is a laboratory used in various disciplines taught on campus. With the renovation, students will have an adequate and coherent location, which fully meets the standards for good feed manufacturing practices, ensuring a learning process consistent with the quality and reality of the best universities in the world.

“The agricultural sector has a strong impact on our country’s economy, and we are preparing professionals to work in this job market that involves the entire agribusiness and food structure,” explains Campus USP Fernando Costa Mayor, Arlindo Saran Netto.

Didactic Laboratories
Another initiative to increase the spaces for learning at USP is the investment of R$ 20 million, made by the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, in projects for the modernization, readjustment and maintenance of Didactic Laboratories aimed at carrying out practical activities in undergraduate courses.

“In addition to maintaining USP’s existing equipment and infrastructure, our objective is to finance innovative projects that modernize education, promoting integration with other University units,” explains the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Edmund Chada Baracat.

The resources are intended for the purchase of equipment, permanent material, bibliographic material, installation and maintenance services. Of the 92 projects submitted, 80 were approved, covering all USP units.

“The Didactic Laboratories Program for Undergraduate Teaching aims to enhance modern, integrated and innovative didactic activities in undergraduate courses, especially after the covid-19 pandemic. We hope to provide adequate conditions for the development of educational environments aligned with new teaching trends, innovative spaces for learning, essential for the training of our students”, says Baracat.

The Laboratory of Musical Acoustics and Information Technology (Lami) is one of the 80 projects approved by the PRG notice. Lami works as a recording studio, a space for educational meetings, a place for musical experimentation and an acoustic laboratory. In addition to offering studio practice workshops, Lami also supports the Orquestra Errante and two record labels based in the ECA’s Music Department.

For the coordinator of the laboratory, Fernando Henrique de Oliveira Iazzetta, “as a space for training and research in the field of music technology, Lami is central because it allows contact with various aspects of musical practice that involve the use of a recording and mixing studio. With the renovation of the laboratory, the possibilities for using the space are significantly expanded”.

Eco-Makerspace – EEL’s Sustainable Maker Space
Another laboratory contemplated was the Eco-Makerspace, at the School of Engineering of Lorena (EEL), a space where teaching and creative learning are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. In partnership with the Ecoponto of the municipality of Lorena, the laboratory develops projects with inputs that could be turned into garbage, such as plastic and electronics, for example.

“With the support of PRG, new equipment and supplies will be purchased, in addition to the digitalization of actions developed with virtual spaces for hybrid learning. It will be possible to integrate subjects from all EEL courses and, at the same time, carry out social projects and extramural actions. We hope that, with sustainable education, we can train engineers and conscientious citizens, who have critical thinking in their projects and who know the consequences of their actions on a planet that demands more empathy, love for others and care for nature,” stated the laboratory coordinator, Eduardo Ferro dos Santos.

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