A Year of COVID-19: Looking back at how the pandemic affected MSU-IIT

A Year of COVID-19: Looking back at how the pandemic affected MSU-IIT

by Michelle Jeanne Caracut, OC/OPI

Exactly one year ago today, MSU-IIT suspended work and classes after Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol issued a memo canceling all face-to-face activities in the campus as a precautionary measure against growing coronavirus concerns in Iligan City.

As classes and work halted; students and employees filed out of the gates; and parking lots emptied; the campus was left uncharacteristically quiet. And this remained the case for the rest of the year as classes were moved online and only a skeleton work crew was maintained by the University. 

While the pandemic kept most everyone away in 2020, many notable things still happened on campus.  Here are some of them:

Innovative Flexible Teaching and Learning Delivery

To ensure that learning continues during the pandemic, the University utilized its Online Learning Environment or MOLE as the primary learning platform. The University made use of MOLÉ 2.0 during the First Semester, AY 2020-2021. By second semester, the University’s Center for Information and Communication Technology (CICT), together with the MSU-IIT Center for eLearning (MICeL), upgraded the system into MOLÉ 3.0, which is also available as a mobile app.

To support research activities during online classes, teachers and students can also access the University’s e-library, curated and maintained by the Office of the Institute Library. 

What used to be done face-to-face, conferences, meetings, and lectures are done virtually through available online platforms like Google Meet and Zoom.

Automation of Processes in the University

The University utilized the MSU-IIT Intelligent Course Adviser (MICA) for online enrollment that was also designed and developed by the CICT. 

A graduation app was also employed so that graduating students can apply online.

A Document Tracking System (DTS), commissioned by the Office of the Chancellor, was developed by CICT and MICeL. Employees can now record, track, and monitor online letter requests, financial and other documents.


MSU-IIT rejoined the ranks of Asia’s top universities in the latest ranking results released on November 25, 2020 by Quacquarelli Symonds, a British company specializing in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world.

In the 2021 edition of the QS World University Rankings: Asia, MSU-IIT landed in the top 83% of all universities evaluated and held an overall rank of 551 – 600.

The University also ranked 3rd out of 6 Philippine universities in the UI GreenMetric World Rankings 2020. 

Overall, MSU-IIT is 548th out of 912 universities coming from different parts of the world.

New Vision and Mission

The University announced the full adoption of its revised vision, mission, and core values through Special Order No. 01403-IIT, Series of 2020 issued on December 2, 2020.

MSU-IIT’s new Vision and Mission:

Vision: A university committed to the holistic development of the individual and society

Mission: To provide quality education for the development of Mindanao and the country through relevant programs in instruction, research and community engagement

Two new core values were added to the five existing ones: 

Transparency. Accessibility to information and openness across all levels

Participation: Involving everyone in decision-making and policy-making

University Buildings

Two things students can look forward to when they return to the campus are the new University Canteen, located at the old SET Building, and the new, five-storey CASS Academic Building. Both are set to be inaugurated soon. 

Photo credits: Jan Christian Pagarigan, OPI

Economy sees signs of recovery from pandemic impact – NEDA Usec

Economy sees signs of recovery from pandemic impact – NEDA Usec

by  Safa D. Manala-o, CBAA

As quarantine restrictions ease across the Philippines, economic indicators are expected to gradually increase, according to Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) during an MSU-IIT-organized online economic forum held on January 8, 2021 through Zoom teleconferencing.

The labor market is showing signs of recovery especially within the sectors of trade, agriculture, and construction, said Sombilla who discussed the pre-pandemic economic condition of the Philippines and NEDA’s growth projections as well as initiatives to build economic resiliency for 2021 and onwards.

In the forum organized by the College of Business Administration and Accountancy (CBAA) and the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), the NEDA Undersecretary explained that the Philippines had an impressive economic growth of 6.6%, low inflation, strong fiscal position, low debt-to-GDP ratio, and lowest unemployment and poverty incidence prior to the COVID19 pandemic. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the total value of all goods and services produced within the country, was at a competitive level of 5 to 6% throughout 2019 before it began to significantly decline in 2020.

The second quarter of 2020 was reported to have the lowest GDP growth rate of -16.9% for the year due to a near-total economic shutdown and massive loss of employment as the country grappled with the initial spread of the virus. The overall 2020 GDP growth rate was between -8.5% to -9.5%, said Sombilla.

Sombilla said that risks will have to be properly managed instead of completely avoided to achieve economic recovery targets for 2021. Government efforts will continue to ensure that inflation remains low and stable particularly for basic commodities.

This will be done by continuing to enforce minimum public health and safety protocols such as hand washing, wearing of face shields and face masks, and observing physical distancing. 

She also mentioned the full restarting of public transportation, relaxing of age group restrictions, avoiding reversal to stricter quarantines and undertaking of face-to-face learning in low-risk areas as some measures to safely reopen the economy. 

It was forecasted that GDP growth rates in 2021 will be 6.5% to 7.5%, and 8% to 10% by 2022.

Screenshots by Pamela F. Resurreccion, CBAA and Romel Sencio, CASS

Topics : NEDA  economy  Covid-19 pandemic

Behind every challenge is an opportunity or even opportunities

Behind every challenge is an opportunity or even opportunities

by Minda Sexon

Integrated Developmental School (IDS) of the College of Education started year 2020 with a collaboration among its faculty, parents and alumni with a common goal: the IDS students’ welfare, oblivious to the coming of COVID- 19 and the challenges that it has brought along.

On January 21, 2020, a seminar entitled Distressed or De-stressed: A Talk on Parenting the Gen Z Kids was sponsored by the IDS Parent-Teacher Association Foundation, Inc. (PTAFI); indeed, a partnership between these two groups of education stakeholders, with the resource speaker Dr. Joan Mae Perez-Rifareal, a celebrity psychiatrist who is an IDS alumna, Batch 1993. The forging of a threefold cooperation – teachers, parents and alumni – commenced.

On the other hand, a series of mental health lectures for the students sponsored by the Iligan Medical Society started on February 11, 2020 and no schedule followed since then because on March 12, 2020 all classes in MSU-IIT were suspended due to the rising concerns on COVID. However, on July 6, 2020, a seminar: Mental Health and Coping during COVID – 19 for Teachers was given virtually by Dr. Rifareal to the CED-IDS-IRDA faculty.

COVID-19 might have put the MSU-IIT students’ campus life on hold, but, definitely, it was not able to stop the concern, generosity and understanding of the IDS faculty, staff, parents, alumni, sponsors and the MSU-IIT administration for the IDS students. The IDS ExeCom, faculty members and staff continued doing their responsibilities, even in a skeletal set-up and discussed matters through virtual meetings, and the MSU-IIT and CED administration never waiver in giving their support to the steps that IDS was taking.

When MSU-IIT decided to open online classes to start in September 2020, IDS immediately prepared and published an approved Online Teaching-Learning PRIMER – Learn and Enhance knowledge and skills; Address and Deliver what is needed (LEAD) – to guide the teachers, parents/guardians and students in facing the new reality of education. The IDS Graduation Committee prepared a Social Media Tribute to IDS Batch 2020 Graduates to virtually celebrate the Commencement Exercises of the Grade 12 students’ Senior High School. The parents and students were invited to attend an online orientation on September 2 -Grade 7 in the morning, Grade 11 in the afternoon; September 3 – Grade 8 in the morning, Grade 9 in the afternoon; and on September 4 – Grade 10 in the morning, and Grade 12 in the afternoon. Then on September 7-11, 2020, IDS conducted dry run classes in order to see how the teachers and students are faring with the online – synchronous and asynchronous – teaching-learning process. On September 12, 2020, IDS had a virtual general faculty meeting to collate all the concerns. What came up was an overwhelming generosity and kindness. PTAFI helped the teachers in buying their laptops; the teachers pitched in amounts to buy gadgets for some students, pay the loads for some students’ WiFi data, and buy printing materials for IDS- Integrated Rural Development Academy (IRDA); the CED-IDS administration lent some students desktop PCs; and PTAFI, the alumni and private individuals continued their support for their scholars.

In short, COVID-19 got the best out of IDS; it has brought out one of the best attributes of man: KINDNESS.

Pandemic to stir up in internationalization plans of Philippine HEIs

Pandemic to stir up in internationalization plans of Philippine HEIs

The global COVID-19 pandemic will stir up and enliven the current strategic internationalization plans and efforts of Philippine higher education institutions.  

This was the view expressed by Renato G. Reyes, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of International Affairs Office at Central Luzon State University. “The current situation poses greater challenges to HEIs and SUCs planning to implement or strengthen their internationalization program, but this same situation will also offer new opportunities,” he added.

Reyes noted that in the next normal or new reality, educational institutions will have to be more creative and bolder to step out of their comfort zones to achieve their current or new internationalization goals.

Internationalization, he explained, are measured based on the following criteria: number of faculty scholars who completed their advanced degrees abroad, the number of academic and scientific exchanges made among international partner institutions, the number of joint research publications with international partners, and the number of student internships both inbound and outbound.

Reyes underscored the need for collaboration not only in the international level but also within the University level. “In order for the wheel of internationalization to progress, every individual from top to bottom of the HEIs must internalize internationalization. As we always say, internationalization must be in every heart and mind of every stakeholder,” he said.

The Central Luzon region has 209 HEIs that offer undergraduate and graduate programs. Out of 209 HEIs, 12 are state colleges and universities (SUCs). Most of these have already institutionalized their respective international affairs office. Lack of improved facilities, insufficient government financial support, slow mobility of human resources both inbound and outbound and academic mismatch of courses with foreign partner institutions, however, have encumbered their efforts towards internationalization.

The country’s higher education institutions are required to maintain a global presence in accordance with the Philippine Higher Education Reform Agenda (PHERA). The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has geared towards this vision by issuing several memoranda such as the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Program which is based on CMO No. 11 Series of 2014, the Policy – Standard to enhance quality assurance in Philippine Higher Education through an outcomes-based and typology – based quality assurance (CMO No. 46 Series of 2012) and the CMO No. 22 Series of 2013 on student internship abroad.

CLSU is a member of the ANTENA Project, a capacity building cooperation project co-funded by the Erasmus + program of the European Commission, led by the University of Alicante in Spain with the support of the University of Montpellier in France and the European Foundation for Management Development. Other members are Ateneo de Manila University, Benguet State University, De La Salle University, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Saint Louis University, University of San Carlos and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, University of the Philippines, and the Commission on Higher Education.

— contributed news

*ANTENA is a capacity-building cooperation project co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission. For more news about ANTENA, visit  https://www.antena-project.eu/news.

MSU-IIT engineer and students devise low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

MSU-IIT engineer and students devise low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

by Michelle Jeanne Caracut, OC/OPI

A TEAM composed of a faculty member and mechanical engineer, and graduating mechanical engineering students of MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology (IIT) successfully devised a low-cost and easy-to-build emergency ventilator to help COVID-19 patients.

The device called MSU-IIT Open Source Easy Ventilator (MOSEV) is a ventilator prototype that is easy to build and well-suited for Philippine setting, and does not require sophisticated manufacturing tools. 

It is affordable to produce, costing only around ₱50,000.00. Conventional ventilators cost around 1.5 million pesos.

The low-cost ventilator is designed by Prof. Sherwin A. Guirnaldo, the team’s project leader, and his BS Mechanical Engineering students, namely Diether Cabahug, Vince Pulmones, and Karl Leo Gustillo.

The MOSEV team fashioned a hand-held resuscitator or Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM) into a mechanically-driven BVM device to provide patients the proper ventilation.

Prof. Guirnaldo and his team started work on the MOSEV when the COVID-19 pandemic began in response to concerns about inadequate essential items for medical care such as personal protective equipment and ventilators. 

“This emergency ventilator is based on a Bag-Valve-Mask device or BVM which is usually used for resuscitation or for manual ventilation. Typically, a medical practitioner will manually squeeze a BVM to displace air from the bag and push it into the lungs of a patient. With the mechanism and control system in MOSEV, the squeezing process is now done mechanically resulting in a more accurate and precise ventilation similar to the performance of conventional mechanical ventilators,” explained Prof. Guirnaldo.    

According to Prof. Guirnaldo, the most important feature found in MOSEV that is rarely found in other emergency ventilator designs is MOSEV’s capability to perform Assist-Control.

Assist-control is a dynamic hybrid mode in mechanical ventilation wherein each breath is initiated by the patient (assist mode) or by the machine (control mode).

“With just around 1200 mechanical ventilators in the Philippines, MOSEV will play a very important role by providing ventilation to those who are on the waiting list for a conventional ventilator,” said Prof. Guirnaldo.  

The MOSEV team was able to implement the necessary features and functions for the device, however, Prof. Gurinaldo said that the device is not yet ready for deployment. 

“Devices like this require the highest possible standard as it will be used for patients in the Intensive Care Units of our hospitals. We need to go through clinical trials and FDA accreditation before we can deploy MOSEV,” he said.

The team is currently searching for sources of funding in order to proceed to the next steps in the project. 

“I am happy because despite the limited time and resources we were able to build the prototype. I am worried about the lack of funding. We need money to continue polishing the design for clinical trials, and for preparation in the FDA application,” shared the project leader. 

The team has been working on the MOSEV project since March 25 and has assembled the 4th prototype in the last week of June.

“MSU-IIT has been very supportive of my project in a way that I and my assistants as well as the collaborating medical doctors were given access to the premises of the Institute and our laboratory during the ECQ period. We were given access also to the services of our own Fablab [Mindanao] free of charge,” said Prof. Guirnaldo.

According to him, when work on the project became more serious and technical, some of the best medical doctors in Iligan came to help. The team received inputs from doctors Isidro Permites Jr., John Ramos, Sharon Uy Donaire, Randy Ong, and Jhong Tamparong.  

When asked if this work is considered part of the university’s responsibility to help its surrounding communities, Prof. Guirnaldo answered, “as one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the country, the Institute is a repository of knowledge, know-how, and experts. In times like this, the participation of the Institute in the formulation of solutions to the pressing issues and problems is a big help.”

“In my opinion, this is the time where our laboratories should be busy not because of obligation but for love of country. Experts and the Institute must work hand in hand to develop something that can be useful in today’s fight against COVID-19,” he said.

The health care system in the country, particularly in Iligan City, has been overwhelmed with new COVID-19 cases coming in daily. In some of these cases, the COVID-19 patients experience severe respiratory conditions. 

MSU-IIT Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol hailed the development of the MOSEV as timely and a testament to the university’s significant role in the community.

“I am proud of the capabilities and initiative of our outstanding faculty and students,” Tanggol said.

Photo credits: Jan Christian Pagarigan

Topics : mechanical ventilator  COVID-19  low-cost ventilator