March 02, 2009

College of Science adds wireless Internet system

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Science students can now enjoy Wi-Fi convenience in study areas in their main classroom and laboratory building on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Officials in the College of Science recently completed installation of new wireless Internet system covering a large portion of the Neckers Building’s study areas. The new system will allow science students and faculty easy wireless access to the SIUC system and the Internet beyond, said Julia A. Wetstein, assistant dean of the college.

“This was really a natural extension for us,” Wetstein said. “The Student Center right next door is wireless, and many students who use that system also come into Neckers. We have beautiful study space here and this was an obstacle we thought we could overcome.”

The wireless system covers the atrium area of Neckers, an open, windowed, four-floor vestibule on the building’s north side. The area originally was designed mostly for aesthetics, but over the years has been pressed into service as space needs grew, Wetstein said.

The area is home to a collection of journals and periodicals known as the Boris Musulin Library, as well as several other study and tutoring areas on various floors.

“It’s a wonderful space, looking into Thompson Woods, and this just enhances it,” Wetstein said.

Wetstein said many students are more comfortable researching on the Internet, and access to the many scientific Web sites and databases online are essential to modern study methods.

“If today’s students were limited to only using books and journals they could not be as efficient, creative and productive as they are with ready access to the Internet,” she said.

Wetstein said the college paid for the $10,000 project using private money from the Musulin endowment. The fund keeps the Musulin Library up to date and pays for a lecturer series. But Wetstein credited the chairs of the departments of chemistry and biochemistry and physics -- Gary Kinsel and Aldo Migone, respectively -- for agreeing to expand the project to benefit all science students and faculty.

“They agreed this was a good and proper use of the money and signed off on it,” she said “Modern libraries need computer access, and we could have simply hardwired it for Internet use for about the same cost. But now the whole atrium is covered and it has enhanced not just the library but also all the other students in the atrium get the benefit, too,”

The wireless system at Neckers joins a growing list of wireless systems on the SIUC campus, including the Student Center, Morris Library, Lesar Law Building, Wham Education Building, Pulliam Hall, Lawson Hall, Lindegren Hall and Anthony Hall, among many others. All together, the University has about 300 wireless Internet access points, indoor and outdoor, each of which providing service for up to 300 square feet.

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