Ask a member of the Media and Technologies Services department at the University of Rhode Island if they’re on summer break right now and you’re likely to get a blank stare, as if the individual words used to ask the question somehow don’t add up to a comprehensible sum.
That’s because what students know as summer break is anything but a lull for URI’s IT staff.
As he hoisted a backpack full of gear over his shoulders,
Senior Information Technologist Anibal Vega smiled at the notion of summer vacation.
“This is our busy season,” he said.
Busy indeed. Two years ago the university began a campus-wide digital overhaul by replacing chalkboards and whiteboards in 52 general assignment classrooms with high-definition projectors and Crestron DigitalMedia control solutions.
“I think the [administration] realized… [that to] improve the educational experience of the students and help professors teach, that they need to start investing in regular general assignment classrooms as far as A/V is concerned,” says Joseph Fuscaldo, the manager of Network Facilities and Operations at URI.
But the overhaul didn’t stop there. Telepresence and lecture capture technologies from Cisco and Accordent, respectively, have been installedin URI’s College of Pharmacy. The encrypted campus-wide Aruba wireless network will have 1,500 access points by the end of the summer (the network is so robust that students can use their laptops on the school’s massive quad). And the university is tying into a statewide fiber network that will bind its four campuses more closely together.
“We’re going to be able to connect to our Providence campus like its right next door,” Fuscaldo says.
The technologies have been implemented with a high degree of support and user-friendliness. Mary Fetherston, the associate director of End User Services, says that her staff is piloting a single-sign-on process for the network that ideally will allow users to log into the network once at the beginning of the year and never have to do it again, and the increased number of access points should create reliable connectivity.
“The network is very smart,” Vega says. “If you get connected here you keep