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    FEBRUARY 16, 2006
 
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TECH Center traffic heavy as semester gets busier

With the semester’s workload now in full swing, students are heading to the TECH Center in increasing numbers to take advantage of its convenience and amenities.

The center, which opened its doors Jan. 5, is a $16 million facility billed as the nation’s largest university computer lab, offering students a one-stop shop for all of their computer-based needs. Its grand-opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony is being held Thursday afternoon.

student

On average, 4,100 people have swiped into the TECH Center each weekday from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7, according to Computer Services. On Feb. 8, a record-breaking 4,940 people visited the center.

The lab is busiest between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., said Tim O’Rourke, vice president of computer and information services. However, even during peak hours, there has been no shortage of available computers.

“We’ve gotten pretty full, but we haven’t had a situation where we’ve had a wait for computers yet,” O’Rourke said. “But we’re getting very close. The use is growing substantially.”

Brandan Hopson, a sports and recreation management major, said he can be found at the TECH Center day and night. He primarily uses the computers for checking his e-mail, surfing the Web and using the free printers to print out assigned readings.

Hopson said he likes the center’s stylish design, filled with row after row of Dell and Macintosh computers.

“It’s impressive,” the senior said. “I’m kind of mad that I’m leaving and they’re putting this in here.”

Jeremy Viray, a senior broadcast journalism major, said that the size of the TECH Center is a significant improvement over other campus computer labs, where until recently it was sometimes difficult to find a computer.

TECH Center fast facts
75,000 square feet of space
600 fixed workstations
100 laptop loaners
13 breakout rooms
6 specialized labs
32 flat-screen monitors on the walls
26 coffee tables with four outlets each for laptops


“I know it’s better for me; I don’t have to wait,” he said. “You get what you need and get out.”

Students say the center’s 24-hour access make it a prime location to complete assignments, whether they stop in between classes or hunker down for a late-night study session.

“It’s a getaway to avoid distractions,” said Whitney Hamer, a sophomore journalism major. The building features breakout rooms for students who want to work together on a project, plus another six specialized labs.

Of all the features in the TECH Center, O’Rourke said that its greatest benefit to students is the ability to get all the software they need for their classes and to get help using that software.

That technology provides students the ability to work faster and better, said Gina Nappi, a journalism and Spanish major, who already has used the TECH Center’s video editing lab for a group project in a television news reporting class.

“It makes everything a lot more accessible,” she said. “It makes doing work convenient and enjoyable, because you have the facilities to do your work.”

However, the TECH Center also provides students with some perks they might not expect.

Vending machines in the building are stocked with toothbrushes and computer supplies. A student lounge offers wireless connections and a view of the building’s multi-story lobby.
Students looking for a caffeine fix are also in luck. A 24-hour Starbucks opened on the first floor on Feb. 13.

Now that the TECH Center is open, Nappi said she does her work there as often as possible, adding that its bright colors and lighting make it a comfortable, inviting place to work.

“It has a great effect on your mood when you go in there,” she said. “Our lives can be somewhat stressful with work that may be thrown our way, and now we can not only use the TECH Center to complete all that work, but also remain positive and upbeat while doing it.”

- By Patti Truant

 

 


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