By Cara Miller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Six UA departments have consolidated to create a new computer lab that will serve the 2,100 undergraduates in the college of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The 35-computer lab will serve students in anthropology, history, linguistics, philosophy, political science and sociology.
"This was something we had to do," said Margaret Wilder, assistant dean for SBS. "The students really deserved to have a lab like this."
Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences Holly Martin-Smith said the college thought the project was so important that it diverted half of its capital funds to pay for the original phase.
"Social sciences has changes in what they teach and how they teach it," she said.
Social sciences students will be able to use the computers to complete class assignments, access UA computerized services and to access other services via Ethernet, a computer networking system.
"The lab will let students have hands-on experience," said Nancy Henkle, assistant director of SBS Research Institute. "It will also allow for better visualization and data access."
The faculty is also expected to make use of the lab for classroom instruction and to learn new software and computer techniques.
"It will help instructors to introduce students to new technology," Wilder said.
Jim Shockey, sociology professor, said he definitely plans to use the lab with his sociology statistics classes.
"This is long overdue," he said.
Shockey, who was last year's facility coordinator, said there are a lot of departments that can find a way to use the lab.
"The multimedia aspect can bring history into the classroom and make it come alive," he said.
Funding for the $70,000 lab came from varied sources including $25,000 from SBS and $49,000 from an instructional computing competition grant. Smith donated a permanent operating budget of $3,500 per year from SBS funds.
Each of the six departments will use graduate students to monitor the lab during the open access hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The lab was open minimally last year, but only 20 computers were in use at the time.
"We wanted to get it open as soon as possible so students could come in and get their homework done," Henkle said.
While the lab has been in
use since Sept. 12, Wilder said the lab is waiting for more funding so it can update the software.
"We acknowledge that we are skimpy on software," she said. "But we are working on another grant proposal for $18,850. We think it's a fairly modest request."
Although the lab has been open only a few weeks, several students have frequented the computers for research as well as electronic mail access.
"This is really great," said philosophy graduate student Kythe Walkswithwind. "I work in this building, so it's much more convenient for me to access my email here. The computers are also much faster."
"The reality is that students have had access to computers, they have just had to go someplace else," Wilder said. "Now they have their own place."
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