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IT invites campus to see recent renovations

by Janene Zaccone last modified Nov 06, 2009 10:24 AM

Recent changes to Miller Information Technology Center (MITC) have turned what primarily had become an administrative building into a multi-purpose gathering space for students.

Information Technology will be host to an open house Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to show off the look and features in what it now calls iTech Commons.
"Within the lower level of MITC, faculty, staff and students now can purchase technology products, obtain computer repair and technology support, drop off their library books, recharge their laptops while viewing one of four digital signage screens and participate in special events using our new high definition, surround sound video wall," said Sande Johnson-Byers, assistant vice president for information technology.
Over the summer, IT opened and reconfigured the space, replaced old tile flooring with flooring that reflects light, demolished and replaced the worn marble stairs, updated ceiling and duct work and made room for other university units to connect with students.
University Libraries uses a kiosk in the area to answer student questions and as a book return. Campus Health Services recently used one of the new kiosks to give flu shots, Johnson-Byers said.
"We want to encourage others to make use of our new facilities, such as the kiosk and the video wall (a sleek nine-screen video wall for student events such as gaming, SecondLife parties and the weROCK '09 iMovie Fest awards show). Both are available and may be scheduled for special events," she said.
iTech Commons is a dramatic departure from the pre-renovated lower level and lobby.
"The facility was pretty much in its original state as it had been built in the late 1950s," said Denita Campo, project manager. "We were going toward an environment that would be much more open and inviting."
The renovation fit within IT's goal in the 2020 Plan to reinvent student technology services in support of the university's commitment to educational excellence, Johnson-Byers said.
"We made a commitment to transform the lower level of MITC to create a gathering place for students -- a place to work, play, and collaborate," she said.
And IT consulted with students in the space design.
"When the architect presented the design renderings to the students, they asked for two things, a collaboration area in the (iTech) Zone and more seating space in the corridors," Johnson-Byers said.
Before the renovation, iTech Zone, the former South Computing Center, consisted only of high-walled individual computer carrels that separated students from their peers. Today, the area has work pods with seating for several students so they can collaborate on assignments.
"The renovation was all about the students," said Priscilla Hancock, vice president for information technology. "We wanted to really show them that IT is investing in their future. Through this project, IT now has the privilege of sharing in their educational experience and their lives. The MITC corridors are now alive with the hustle and bustle of college students. I love it!" 
In addition to iTech Zone, iTech Commons has within it iTech Xpress, a retail technology store that opened last year; iTech Connect, a free face-to-face technology consulting area; and iTech Xplore, a technology training center.
The open house will feature tours of the facility, free snacks and giveaways.

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