September 18, 2012

Revamped research computer lab benefits students

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A newly redesigned research computer lab at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is another example of the University's commitment to meeting the needs of its students, including students with disabilities.

A $15,000 Graduate Technology Enhancement Grant from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research enabled the research computing facility in Wham Education Building room 229 to receive extensive renovations and upgrades this summer.  Specialized, cutting-edge hardware and software is enabling students to complete their studies in measurements and statistics.  

The lab is open to the whole campus, but the focus is toward the measurements and statistics curriculum, particularly at the highly specialized graduate level, said Lyle J. White, professor and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education.

All nine computers in the lab are new and feature the latest available software to meet student needs.  A 30-inch monitor with large, clear fonts is available for students with vision disabilities, and arrangements are in place for reader software, White said.

The lab also includes a motorized computer desk so users can raise or lower the computer as needed.

“This lab gives our measurement and statistics students a place to do their homework and work on research projects with all of the highly specialized software they need and it’s handicapped accessible, too,” White said.

Doctoral students staff the lab, and provide assistance to students using facility.  More than half of the graduate students who use the lab are in majors outside of the College of Education and Human Services, White said.

The facility is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours to 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. on some days.  Additional details are available in various locations throughout Wham, including the area outside of the lab.

The Graduate Student Research Computing Facility opened in 2001 with five computer workstations.  The lab expanded to six workstations in 2004, and another grant in 2008 allowed additional and updated equipment.