AdministrationNews

Capital campaign could mean upgrades for UO's tech infrastructure



University of Oregon’s wireless network could get an upgrade in the years to come.

On October 17, 2014 the University of Oregon announced a $2 billion capital campaign, the largest in the state’s history. Some priorities of the campaign are funding an upgrade of IT infrastructure and increase capacity to process ‘big data.’

How does UO’s network work?

Think about a house with wireless. An individual home may have one wireless router and fewer than ten residents using that network. But at UO’s campus, where there are 25,000-30,000 users, tech issues are a little more complex than just unplugging the router and using your cellphone data to play Candy Crush.

Technology at UO has changed drastically in the last decade. While some students still sharpen their pencils, take notes or play hangman in class, other students are using Wi-Fi-enabled devices including laptops, tablets and smart phones. Many students even bring more than one device on campus with them and each device affects the UO’s wireless network.

Patrick Chinn has worked in IT at UO for the last two decades. Now the head of Strategic Communications for Information Technology, Chinn compares UO’s network to one of the older buildings on campus.

“The network in a lot of ways is like a house or a building,” Chinn said. “While our foundation needs some attention, it’s not crumbling. It’s very much analogous to some of our older buildings on campus where they work, but it’s a little creaky in spots and needs some attention. It’s the same thing on campus where we have a lot of network gear that needs to be upgraded. We’ve done some of that work, but we’re hoping that the capital campaign will provide more funding for those types of upgrades.”

Upgrades to IT from the capital campaign would depend on two things, what the donor wants and strategic planning goals. It’s not uncommon for donations to have specific conditions. For example, Connie and Steve Ballmer gave a $50 million gift for Pathway Oregon scholarships, prevention science research and a branding initiative.

“IT is not normally one of the things that gets put on the list,” Chinn said. “But we’re very happy to be included in the campaign.”

UO continues to have some tech issues like wireless Internet outages, but according to Chinn it has gotten better. The fall of 2012 held frequent wireless issues. In 2013, UO updated some of the oldest pieces of wireless gear, which Chinn said helped.

“Generally the outages are much, much shorter.” Chinn said. “Instead of it being 30 minutes or longer in most situations where we have backed wireless issues, the issue is 5 minutes or less. In some cases, folks didn’t see any interruptions.”

Many students noted wireless issues during heavy traffic times like trying to get football tickets. Grace Honeywell, a sophomore and international studies major said that the Wi-Fi was worse last year when she lived in the dorms.

Students experiencing computer issues can visit the Technology Service Desk in the basement of McKenzie Hall.

Jeremy Klein, a senior computer science major, has worked at the Tech Desk for over a year. According to Klein, the most frequent issues he sees at the desk has more to do with getting locked out of Duckweb and Webmail than network issues.

If students have issues, Klein recommends that students check the IT website, but you can always visit the tech desk.


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Alexandra Wallachy

Alexandra Wallachy

Alex is a head correspondent at the Emerald focusing on higher education and student government. She is also a producer for the Emerald Podcast Network and a huge fan of the Daily Show.