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Reopened Computer Lab Increases Access and Collaboration

With the ribbon cutting a few weeks shy of the fall semester's finals, the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering's newly-reopened Computer Laboratory was packed from the moment its doors were open in the beginning of December 2014.

Students in the new computer laboratory came in waves, sharing thoughts and comiserating on their finals as they all worked hard to complete deadlines.

"It is nice to see our tuition go toward something that benefits us directly," said Alexander Hardaway, a senior in the CME Department, majoring in water resources and graduating in 2015. "We sometimes get people who aren't even 'civils' [civil engineering students] trying to sneak in here to use the space—it's that nice."

The last computer lab was built on a grant obtained by Professor Mohen Issa, in 1992. At maximum capacity, the previous lab could seat 30 students. Between the growing student population, and technology demands that outstripped the capabilities of their aging systems, CME was ready to upgrade, and so the department submitted a proposal to the College of Engineering last Spring. After reviewing the statistics and information, the College of Engineering's Dean Nelson approved a complete renovation for the old laboratory, removing aging computer systems, and making a computer lab fit for use for at least the next 10 years.

The new computer laboratory features:

*More room for students. By tearing down a common wall and making two rooms into one—CME increased the laboratory seating from 30 to 50 *Upgrading the technology from Pentium four processors to i7 processors with a speed of 3.4Ghz *Upgrading performance and speed by increasing from 4 gigs of ram to 16 gigs of ram *Increasing capacity by upgrading from 250 gig hard drives to 500 gig hard drives *Another wireless node in the computer lab so 100 wireless devices can connect to the UIC wifi system at the same time *A projector and four displays so that students could view presentations easily from anywhere in the room without blind spots

Along with increasing the capacity and speed of the computers, these upgrades allowed students to make GIS and CAD drawings quickly, with high resolution, and also to run simulations and compiling with different engineering softwares faster.

Finally, the CME Department purchased a new 36" HP color plotter—for students working on design projects. The new plotter can be used by students to design posters for senior projects and for competitions like the ASCE/AISC Steel Bridge or the ASCE Concrete Canoe, without having to leave campus to find an outside facility, or pay extra printing costs.

Enable students to develop their professional skills

Jan 2015

Topic revision: r3 - 2015-04-28 - 20:33:25 - Main.sbhat3
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