January 10, 2014 9:15AM
Although the Pitt State campus has appeared to be a quiet place over the past month, many university employees have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure the campus is prepared for the return of more than 7,000 students and hundreds of faculty this weekend.
No group is more aware of the dramatic change that is about to take place than the people in PSU’s Office of Information Services (OIS).
“The return of students and faculty to campus after break is an exciting time that brings with it its own set of challenges,” said Angela Neria, PSU’s chief information officer.
Among those challenges is the sudden demand for massive amounts of Internet services. That demand is more often than not for wireless access to the Internet.
“Over the course of three semesters, we have had an increase of wireless devices on campus of more than 60 percent,” Neria said.
Those Internet hungry devices range from laptop computers to tablets to shiny, new smartphones that students found under the Christmas tree.
“The increase in wireless devices on campus tends to be higher in the spring than the fall,” Neria said. “We believe that this is due to gift giving and really good deals offered during the holiday season.”
In order to meet the requirements of an increasingly wireless student body, OIS has been working to beef up the university’s wireless system.
“We have installed many new wireless access points over both summer break and during the fall semester,” Neria said. “These new devices allow for greater capacity in servicing our growing campus wireless needs.”
OIS has also been working to both expand the core campus data system and to build in redundancy in case of failure.
“We have added solid state drives to the administration system to aid in the response time during online enrollment,” Neria said. “Over winter break we made a major addition to the redundancy of the 'brains' of the network by adding an additional core router to the campus backup data center. This router would take over in the event of a failure of the university's primary core router.”
Gorilla Geeks, an OIS office that helps users set up and maintain their high-tech tools, expects to see an uptick in business when the students arrive.
“Students trickle in with their new electronic gadgets with the usual questions,” said Jeff Schooley, information services coordinator. “They usually begin with, ‘How do I...’”
All new students will visit Schooley’s office, because it also oversees the issuance of student IDs.
“We also have many students returning from a long winter break who have forgotten their passwords or misplaced their student IDs, so this keeps us pretty busy,” Schooley said.
Although it is a busy time for OIS, Neria said it is also exciting to play an important role in the operation of a bustling campus. The high expectations are a reminder of the role Information Services plays.
“There is almost no academic or administrative activity on a modern campus that doesn’t depend on or involve computers or the Internet to some extent,” Neria said. “That’s a big responsibility, but it is exciting, as well.”