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Multimedia center opens

RAJA THIRU/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Bachelor of Arts in engineering senior and multimedia zone staff member Jonathan Wilson works on a multimedia presentation yesterday in the ILC. The Multimedia Zone has its grand opening today.
By Julie Wetmore
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 22, 2003

ILC services continue to expand, new computer lab opening today

Toward the back of the Integrated Learning Center, there's an entrance on the right adorned with old bike parts, audio records and strings of lights.

It serves as the gateway to the Multimedia Zone, which has eight computer workstations boasting two monitors each.

Although the Zone has been up and running since the semester began, it is about to be officially dedicated today.

The grand opening will take place in the ILC commons from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with the ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m.

Door prizes will also be given away throughout the event. Everyone is welcome to attend, but people have to be there to win.

"We're practically going to be giving away $1,000 an hour," said Lemill Lawson, computing manager for the Multimedia Technologies Group.

The ILC opened about two years ago, but the Multimedia Zone has only recently been finished because of budget concerns.

The Zone was funded by ILC budget money and by Proposition 301, which provides money to fund technology used for educational purposes, said Christopher G. Johnson, director of the Digital Media Resource Center.

Although the Zone is finally opening, it is not as equipped as originally planned with only eight workstations instead of 40, another product of budget cuts.

It might not be what administrators had hoped for, but people are still raving about it.

Everyone should come check it out, Lawson said.

The Zone features unique workstations equipped with two monitors and two processors, increasing the speed of computers and giving students and faculty more room to view multiple programs at once.

"The 36-inch viewing space becomes critical when you're using multimedia software," Johnson said.

The multimedia software covers everything from animation, DVD audio/visual, architectural model enhancement and virtual reality.

"Employers want students to know these multimedia programs right out of college, and we're providing that," Lawson said.

Requests by students largely determine what software programs and hardware are added to the already extensive list. The Zone has already expanded with more keyboards, a better version of Final Cut, a digital video editing software program, and audio plug-in programs that extend capabilities of other programs.

Staff, faculty and students, basically anyone with a UA NetID, can use the computers. The Zone is open nearly all hours of the day, Lawson said.

There are also no limits to the amount of time a person can spend working in the Zone, nor is there a maximum to the number of projects you can have running at one time.

Many students use the Zone for animation work, Johnson said.

Zone staff members are there to instruct students on how to work with various programs.

"Lately, most people have come in wanting to learn an animation program called Maya," said Chris Stagg, manager of the Multimedia Zone.

Other staff members had different perspectives on what the Zone is used for.

"People usually do e-mail. They're really nifty e-mail readers with two screens," said Bernard Begay, a staff member.

Sometimes the Zone is crowded; over 160 people have been turned away this semester because there simply is no room for them. At other times there is a lot of space.

"I found out about it by walking around," said Brandon Brewer, a media arts senior. "It's pretty cool because there's no one in here."

Another aspect of the Zone and ILC is the wireless network. A student can walk from the ILC to the staircases, to the Bookend CafÄ, and then back without losing their connection, Johnson said. He noticed a student earlier this semester doing last minute homework in the hall right outside his classroom in the ILC, on the wireless network.

"We also found students in the restroom on the wireless, as if it was something they should keep hidden," Lawson said. "Anyone with a UA NetID can access the network."

Students can obtain wireless access by downloading Virtual Private Network on their computers. Information can be found at

As part of today's opening ceremony, students also have the chance to meet and listen to a presentation by Psymbiote, also known as Isa Gordon, the Human-Cyborg Zygote. This woman has attached monitoring devices to her body and has even implanted them. These devices respond to body temperature, heart rate and other biological factors.

She will be speaking from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Center for Creative Photography's auditorium.

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