The University of the Philippines College of Engineering, the largest unit in the UP Diliman and UP System with over 5000 students, celebrated its highly-anticipated Welcome Assembly on February 13, 2023, after three years of primarily online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s assembly, which was attended by students, faculty, staff, and officials, had the theme “Maligayang Pagbabalik, mga Inhenyero ng Kinabukasan,” (Happy Return, Engineers of the Future), a fitting sentiment for this new chapter in the students’ academic journey.

Driven by its commitment to train engineers in solving real-world problems, the College of Engineering decided to return to 100% face-to-face instructional mode and hands-on experiential learning. “A large part of ‘Tatak UP’ comes from one’s experiences on campus. Our students are missing out on these,” remarked Dean Tanchuling in the discussions leading up to the adoption of the face-to-face instructional policy. This pivot to hands-on experiential learning is complemented with ongoing efforts to equip all Engineering’s classrooms with HyFlex facilities.

Ang administrasyon ng College of Engineering ay nagsumikap na maging maayos ang inyong pagbabalik. Kung may problema man kayo ay huwag mag-atubili ng lumapit sa amin. [The COE administration persevered in ensuring your smooth return to the campus. Should you encounter challenges, do not hesitate to reach out to us],” said Dr. Maria Antonia Tanchuling, Dean of the College of Engineering, addressing the students and introducing members of the executive committee, department heads, and institute directors who attended the event. 

Dean Tanchuling also acknowledged the presence of newly-appointed University of the Philippines President Angelo A. Jimenez, UP Vice President Dr. Ferdinand Pecson, UP Assistant Vice President Prof. Karl Friedrik Poblador, UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Louise Jashil Sonido and University Guidance Counselor Dr. Berlina T. Cuevas. She reiterated that COE offices are always open to accommodate student concerns. “We want to see you succeed and we are doing everything in our power to be able to do that.”

University of the Philippines President Jimenez delivered an inspirational message to the students. “Magandang umaga, mga Iskolar ng Bayan, on behalf of the University and its almost 7,000 faculty members and more than 8,000 personnel, and half a million of its alumni all over the world, I welcome you to the University of the Philippines in Diliman. University of the Philippines, of course, you know is the premier national university and it will be your home for the next four, five years, six years if you will miss it too much.” 

Aside from Honor and Excellence which UP students are expected to uphold as the best and brightest of the nation, UP President Jimenez emphasized important qualities in being scholars of the people: “The one thing I would like to stress is that you also develop compassion and kindness. The diligence and passion in pursuit of your study, and other experiences would contribute to your holistic growth as productive members of society.”

UP President Jimenez also assures that UP is a place where students can freely express their views. “You are among the best and the brightest of your own generation… You are our nation’s brightest hope. You can expect to live the best years of your life in this college because of our tradition of liberal education and academic freedom which you will surely enjoy.” 

The presence of UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo added to the already festive atmosphere of the Welcome Assembly, as he also celebrated his birthday on the same day. In his address, Chancellor Nemenzo warmly welcomed the students, faculty, and staff of the UP College of Engineering and emphasized the significance of face-to-face learning and hands-on experiences in shaping the next generation of engineers. His inspiring message was met with enthusiasm from the crowd, who showed their appreciation by breaking into an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The chancellor’s words of encouragement and support further boosted the excitement and optimism felt by everyone in attendance for the College’s future ahead.

UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sonido also took the stage to extend her warm welcome to the students and guests in attendance. In her message, she expressed her excitement to see the students back on campus after such a long time, noting that this was their first opportunity to meet their classmates and professors in person since the start of the pandemic. “Nakita niyo na rin (face-to-face) for the first time yung mga classmates and professors ninyo,” said Vice Chancellor Sonido. Her remarks were met with enthusiastic laughs from the audience, further highlighting the excitement and anticipation that surrounded this long-awaited return to face-to-face learning.

During the assembly, the UP Engineering Student Council officers and Freshie council members were introduced by Chairperson Sarah Gatmen, who emphasized the crucial role of student leadership in shaping the future of the College of Engineering. The student council, as a representative body of the students, has played an active role in supporting the return to 100% face-to-face learning, as well as advocating for the needs and concerns of the student community. The presence of the student leaders in the assembly was a testament to the College’s commitment to fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment, where students can grow and thrive both academically and personally.

The program culminated with a giant group photo at the steps of the College’s Melchor Hall, featuring all those who attended, including President Jimenez, Chancellor Nemenzo, Dean Tanchuling, and other officials, ready to tackle the new semester with passion and drive. The UPD College of Engineering Welcome Assembly was a truly memorable start to the new academic year, a testament to the resilience and determination of the UP community.

The College of Engineering was filled with energy and excitement as students, faculty, staff, and officials gathered for the historic Welcome Assembly. The College, together with its partners and sponsors, is proud to have made this momentous occasion a reality, marking the first face-to-face Welcome Assembly in three years. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Dr. Djoan Kate Tungpalan, and the Engineering Student Council, led the efforts to bring this day to life, inviting sponsors who offered a variety of opportunities for students, including raffle prizes, grab-and-go freebies from student organizations, and onsite scholarship applications. With all these activities, it was a day to remember for everyone in attendance and a strong start to the new semester.