Upgrades made to Protho-Yeager’s computer lab

Melissa Laussmann

The Protho-Yeager computer lab.
The Protho-Yeager computer lab.

Within the last few weeks, computer technicians changed and upgraded the computer lab in Protho-Yeager’s Bea Wood Hall. Technicians have re-imaged the computers and have addressed technical problems that plagued users in the past. However, the computer lab is no longer considered open-access to students.

Susan Henson, assistant professor of English, teaches technical writing classes in the computer lab.

“One of the problems students have had was staying connected to the internet, and the disruptions┬ámake instruction and learning difficult to do,” Henson said.

Problems such as internet connection, saving documents to Microsoft Word and opening up certain web pages were common while students worked on assignments. Students would have to move around the lab to find a computer that was functioning properly.

Melissa Nivens, lecturer, said the few times she has had to work in the lab with her class, students were unable to log on and connect to the internet.

“It’s frustrating for students who have to hop from one pc to the next, in order to get work done,” Nivens said. Valuable class time is lost whenever this occurs, she added.

Jim Hall, networking services manager, said the company that runs the security product underneath Windows, rewrote the driver which did not function properly with the Windows operating system.

“It was very frustrating for students, faculty and staff, because we have been building labs for 20-something years and we’ve never seen anything like this,” Hall said.

But improvements have been made by the company making the security product and the information technology’s office to address these issues.

“We’ve doubled the RAM in the machines to give them more room to work internally,” Hall said. “We’ve replaced the switching gear that they connect to, which aggregates them into the internet and we’re putting new fiber optic cable into the building, not just for the lab, but for the entire building, which will be about a 400 percent increase in capacity for that entire facility.”

Other changes include the absence of a computer lab assistant. The Bea Wood computer lab is no longer open-access to students.

“That computer lab used to be an open computer lab where any student could go in and use it. We manage lab assistants for all the open computer labs,” Hall said.

The Bea Wood lab is not considered open because it is in use for classes the majority of the day. Therefore, a decision was made by the information technology office to remove the lab assistants and place them into public computer labs, such as the one in Moffett, where students may go in at anytime during operating hours.

“We are not staffing department-specific labs on campus, that is typically handled by the department,” Hall said.

Shane Perry, computer lab manager, said labs such as the one in Bolin’s computer science department and West College’s third floor, are staffed with lab assistants hired by their departments.

Funds for consumables such as paper and toner are no longer the responsibility of the information technology department, though they have continued to utilize a part of their budget to help with the transition. Funding now falls under the departments utilizing the Bea Wood lab.

“We will continue to support that lab from a technical standpoint, and if there are any issues to resolve, we are here to help,” Perry said.