By Brian Christiana, Amor Duran, Nasi Hayes, Katina Hocker, Laura Lee, Megan Smith, Quinyece Walker and Joel Zola
Students of COM 140, Summer 2017
Special to The Knightly News
In August, Central Penn College opened in Bollinger Hall what sources contacted for this story believe is the school’s first 24-hour, seven-day-a-week computer lab for students.
Students seem to like the additional resource, which includes 21 computers and a printer.
“It is great for the students that live in the apartments and Super Suites,” Student Government Association President Yuliani Sutedjo, a corporate communication major, said.
Valeri Hartman, IT help desk administrator, said the need for a new computer lab has been growing since the merger of the learning and writing centers at the start of summer term. The merger left students with only the library and Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC) computer lab, in 300, neither of which is open past 10 p.m.
Because Room 41 was across from the Security Department, IT and other personnel saw a perfect opportunity to make the lab 24-7 access.
The lab is open on holidays, even though the college may be closed, Hartman said. Some resident students remain on campus on holidays.
“One of the challenges professors face is not having enough computers for students both in and out of the classroom,” Hartman said. “We’re trying to find a solution for that.”
Prof. Micaiah Smith-Morris said the Knight Owl Computer Lab is good, because a limit on students’ “time is no longer an issue.”
It is, “Clearly communicating an emphasis on academic achievement,” Smith-Morris said.
Bollinger 41 was selected as the location for the room because of its proximity to the security office. Hartman explained that with the lab being open all night, having the office across the hall will put students at ease no matter the time.
The location also provides convenience for on-campus students who will no longer have to walk cross campus to access a computer.
Working on extended support time
IT support is not available at the Knight Owl Computer Lab after 3 p.m. Help is available from the Central Penn IT helpdesk from 8 a.m. to 3.
Hartman understands that’s a problem that needs to be dealt with.
“We are working on it,” Hartman said.
Hartman gave some examples of what IT can do to fix the problem.
“Maybe some of the staff can stay later in the evening, till 8-9,” Hartman said. “It’s just a thought.”
She added there is no deadline for providing on-site IT support after 3 p.m., or whether doing so will be possible.
Equipment nuts and bolts
“The computers, monitors, keyboards and mice in the Knight Owl lab are all brand new and include three-year warranties on the hardware,” IT Director Tom Parker said.
IT workers had to re-cable all of Bollinger 41, which had been a classroom without student computers, so the computers could match up with outlets.
“A new network switch was added, and a wireless access point was also added to increase the density of available connections in the room,” Parker wrote in an email.
“The total cost per computer is $695,” according to Parker. “That includes the PC with three-year warranty, monitor, keyboard, mouse and the needed video adapter to connect the monitors.”
The total for computers and their accessories came to $14,595. Parker said the re-cabling, network switch, wireless access point and other accoutrements cost about $6,000. He said the approximately $21,000 spent on the lab came from the IT budget and did not require extra funds. Central Penn recently made fiscal cuts across the college to set a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The school tries to buy the same computers that are used in other rooms, but it’s not always possible because hardware changes every year. The computers in the Knight Owl lab are Dell computers and are similar to the 100 computers replaced in 2016 in ATEC, Parker said.
No work should be saved to the computer desktops because the computers delete information stored there overnight, as in the rest of the labs.
A security camera was installed in the room as well. If there are any technical issues overnight or on holidays, then students can submit a helpdesk ticket by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (866) 291-HELP (4357), and leaving a voicemail explaining what the issue is. Students can expect to receive an email answer during the following day.
Hartman suggested using the OneDrive account through Office 365, and to always log out when finished.
To comment on this story, contact TheKnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.
Edited by media club co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi, who directed this editorial project, and contributed a small amount of information to the reporting.