June 27, 2016

Computer science department to relocate

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Engineering Building on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale will be the new home for the offices of the Department of Computer Science starting in July. 

Workers are finishing up renovations on the third and fourth floors of Engineering Building A, where computer science faculty, staff and students will get down to business in the fall semester. Officials are preparing now for the move, which will see the entire department relocate from its current quarters in Faner Hall beginning on July 1. Plans call for completing the move and returning operations back to normal sometime during the first week of August. 

The building is home to the College of Engineering, but the move involves only the physical location of the Department of Computer Science, which will remain part of the College of Science. 

Shahram Rahimi, chair of the department, said computer science has simply outgrown its former location. 

“Space limitations have always been a major problem for us and this move will provide us with about 40 percent more space,” Rahimi said. “All of the computer science department will be moving, including 16 faculty members, four staff members and more than 300 students.” 

Students, especially, will benefit from the move, Rahimi said. 

“They will have more lab space, which is going to greatly improve their educational experience,” he said. 

Both undergraduate and graduate level enrollment have doubled during the last five years in the department, said Norman Carver, associate professor of computer science. Carver said Susan Ford, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Laurie Achenbach, dean of the College of Science, supported the move as an effective means of solving the critical space issues faced by the department as a result. 

“The additional space … will provide more and better lab space for students,” Carver said. “It will also provide much improved lab space for faculty research.” 

Faculty, staff and course instruction will be centered on the third and fourth floors of Engineering A, making it easier for students to communicate with them and their teaching assistants, Carver said. 

Another aspect of the move involves the department relocating its computing infrastructure to the data center in the Wham Building. The modifications to the data center, which is managed by the Office of Information Technology, will make possible a powerful cloud computing platform that will in turn enhance course instruction, distance learning capabilities and faculty research, Carver said. 

“(The relocation) will also provide significant cost savings over time,” Carver said, noting that it also will provide security and power backup functions that were not possible before.