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Taking the Lesson Outdoors – CIV 414 Field Trip in New York City

Cornell Tech Campus, Roosevelt Island

Among the many challenges facing instructors delivering courses online due to the Covid-19 pandemic is how to get to know students and interact with them. For Dr. Marija Krstic this is an element that is very important for effective teaching. Dr. Krstic is a new adjunct lecturer in the Civil Engineering Department, teaching CIV 101 – Civil Infrastructure and CIV 414 – Advanced Construction Materials this fall 2020 semester. To get to know her students in CIV 414 better she proposed meeting them in person to do something engaging and fun, as much the safety protocols of Covid-19 allowed. “The purpose of the meeting was primarily to get to know them better, and to do something nice for them. The past few months, we all feel that we are virtually connected but very isolated at the same time. I personally believe it is essential for all of us in these strange times to socialize – of course as safely as the current situation allows.” says Dr. Krstic. 

Having recently completed her Ph.D. studies in materials and structures at The City College of New York, the city has been Dr. Krstic’s home for the past few years, and its metropolitan environment provides a perfect setting to highlight what students are learning in CIV 414. The trip started at the Tramway station (Midtown Manhattan) taking the ride along the Queensboro bridge to Roosevelt Island. After a walk under the bridge they spent some time on the campus of Cornell Tech, Cornell University’s technical graduate school in New York City. A ferry ride took them to Long Island City where they enjoyed a walk along the boardwalk looking at the magnificent Manhattan skyline while discussing some important structures. Dr. Krstic later said of the trip: “I was extremely happy to see the students enjoying our meet and greet field trip. We had a dinner after all the walking. I was so glad that I had the opportunity to get to know some of the students better and hear about their ambitions and interests; they have a bright future ahead of them.”

Roosevelt Island

The trip took place on September 14th and about a third of the class was able to make it to the city while the rest of the class had an opportunity to join them via Zoom. Anecdotes from a few of the students who joined the trip in person follow.

“Meeting Dr. Krstic in Manhattan was such a pleasant experience. She had the whole day planned. We went to places in the city I've never been to before! It's important for me to connect with professors in the classroom to let them know I'm engaged in the lesson and perceptive of the knowledge they're sharing but it's particularly hard now with the integration of Zoom and online learning. She helped us bring the information she shared on Zoom to the real world and it was so helpful and exciting.”   - Noor Hamdan, ’21 CIV senior.

“While our professors are doing an amazing job preparing lectures and presenting information via Zoom, we are social beings and need more than a computer screen. The trip not only let us get to know Dr. Krstic and the work she’s done but also let us engage in academic discussions as we would in a classroom setting. My favorite part of that day was walking under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge near sunset and discussing the bridge’s history and structural design. It brought together the knowledge we learned throughout the semesters into real life.”    - Nicole Kusztykiewicz, ’21 CIV senior.

“After months of quarantine and online classes it was exciting to be able to get out and see some new places. After the tram ride we walked around Roosevelt Island while Dr. Krstic described her experience in the field and how she came to be a part of Stony Brook. She showed us around Long Island City while noting examples of how the topics covered in class can be seen in the real world. It was really helpful to be able to discuss the topics covered in class without a screen in front of us."   - Zane A. Gibbs, ’21 CIV senior.

Long Island City, NYC


Note: Quoted text was edited for readability.