May 16, 2006

NSIT works to keep campus up to speed

With recent developments in computing capabilities on campus, along with plans for equipping a new residence hall with equally advanced technologies, Networking Services & Information Technologies (NSIT) has been hard at work improving the way students and faculty work, according to Chad J. Kainz, senior director of NSIT Academic Technologies.

“Some changes include large screen displays for collaborative work, updated software capabilities, and rethinking the space configurations in Harper and Crerar,” Kainz said.

“In addition, we’re experimenting with a different model for USITE machines in open spaces,” he said.

In March, NSIT converted the WebStations outside the Crerar USITE cluster into fully functional Windows workstations, consisting of more programs than just Internet access. NSIT made similar system conversions to USITE clusters on the fourth floor of BSLC and the A-level of Regenstein Library, Kainz said.

Officials expect recent software upgrades will keep the network running even in the event of a failure in some of the system’s equipment, said Ron Rusnak, director of NSIT networking.

Additionally, with spring temperatures on the rise, students will have the advantage of NSIT’s wireless network spanning the entire main quads for checking homework assignments and e-mail with less chance of a disrupted signal.

NSIT has recently opened up new WebStations in Stuart Hall.

“The WebStations in Stuart are part of the reprogramming of Stuart Hall after the GSB’s move to the Hyde Park Center,” Kainz said.

Kainz added that NSIT plans to improve the facilities of the four existing USITE clusters run by NSIT.

“We’re working on updating and refining our existing USITE facilities in Crerar, Harper, Regenstein, and BSLC to help us explore options for the USITE cluster that will open in the new residence hall,” he said.

Sherry Gutman, deputy dean of students for Housing, Dining, and Transportation, convened with students on Friday, elaborating detailed plans for the new residence hall located at East 61st Street and South Ellis Avenue. Gutman specifically discussed the addition of a USITE computing cluster to the residence hall as one of the project’s more formidable tasks.

The new residence hall will feature nine Intermediate Distribution Frame rooms (IDFs), which would house the networking equipment and cables that run Internet services throughout the dorm. According to Gutman, the minimum size of each IDF room is the size of an average one-person room in that dorm.