University Information Technology Services joins forces with Arizona Student Unions and Student Affairs to boost technological resources available on campus.
The Office of Student Computing Resources confirmed the construction of a new computer lab coming this fall at the Park Student Union.
“One of our goals with the labs is to have the computing resources in places that are convenient for the students,” said Michele Norin, UA’s chief information officer and vice president for information technology. “It’s going to allow us to stand up a lab in the part of campus that we know gets a lot of foot traffic.”
Construction of the lab comes after the Colonia de la Paz Residence Hall computer center was closed down to make room for THINK TANK. The location will replace the old gaming center in room 120.
The new facility will feature 14 iMac computers with dual boot, meaning students can run either Mac or Windows operating systems. It will also include a WEPA print station.
A lounge area will provide students with the opportunity to bring their personal computers and work alongside peers, said Walter Ries, the IT manager for OSCR.
Modeled after the lab in Student Union Memorial Center on the lower level, PSU’s new addition is classified as an open lab, meaning that it cannot be reserved for class purposes, but is open to all students. Other open labs across campus include the Multimedia Zone in the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center and inside the Student Recreation Center.
“The strength of the lab in the Student Union is really the location,” Norin said. “We’re glad to have a computing facility in a place where the students are going to be.”
Yet, unlike the other 10 computer centers on campus, this lab will feature a 24/7 Express staff member alongside an OSCR consultant.
“The OSCR Consultant’s primary role is to take care of the lab and take care of the customers in the lab,” Ries said. “The 24/7 Express [staff member] is going to be more concerned with those things you normally call the 24/7 [IT Support Center] about, which includes personal computers or more network related things.”
24/7 Express, a branch of the 24/7 IT Support Center, will help students address network issues such as resetting passwords, configuring email and installing software.
“The mission is to bring support as close to the student as possible,” said Peg Kearney, the IT manager for 24/7 IT Support Center. “We want them to have support at their fingertips where they need it, when they need it.”
While Express is a more limited version of the 24/7 IT Support Center, the range of help it provides is not restricted to computers in the lab. According to Kearney, 24/7 Express personnel can also assist with email configuration and Wi-Fi on personal devices, such as mobile phones and tablets.
Success of OSCR computer labs, paid for through the Student IT fee, is monitored via usage data collected and periodic student surveys, Norin noted.
“Technology is a critical component to an educational experience,” Norin said. “In fact, it’s a critical component to our daily lives. It is important to have these resources available as an enabler for students to be successful in their educational experience and ultimately their career.”
The lab is expected to open Friday, August 21, during Park Student Union’s Wildcat Welcome event, Party in the Park, which will run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.