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October 28, 1999

UW-RF Residence Halls to Get Technology Upgrades

By Jennifer Gottschalk
UW-RF News Bureau

Five of the nine residence halls at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls will soon receive upgrades in technology.

Last year four of the five residence halls were upgraded. These halls included Johnson Hall, May Hall, McMillan Hall, and Crabtree Hall. The remaining five residence halls that will be upgraded are Grimm Hall, Parker Hall, Hathorn Hall, Stratton Hall, and Prucha Hall.

The existing telecommunications systems in the five halls at UW-RF are from 30 to 40 years old, when they were constructed to accommodate massive growth to respond to Baby Boomers as they headed off to college. Each room had only one telephone and television jack. To connect to the Internet in those five remaining residence halls, students must use modems over dial-up phone lines since the rooms lack a computer hook-up.

After the new rewiring project is completed this coming summer, more than 1,200 students in over 600 rooms will benefit from the upgrades.

"UW-RF has always been a leader and on the cutting edge of technology, This project is just one more example that illustrates the advantages we offer students. Because of the upgrades, UW-RF will provide a higher level of education," remarked Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau.

To improve the students' living conditions, nearly $700,000 of improvements will be made on the voice, video, and data telecommunications plants. Each room will receive a voice jack, two data jacks, and a video jack.

The construction will take place in the summer and will be ready for students to use in the fall of 2000.

One significant benefit students will receive is the increase in computer speed. The new wiring will allow students to get 10 million milli bits per sec (mbps), which is a 400-fold increase in the speed of the current system. This increase will allow students to complete coursework more efficiently.

Ultimately, the new features will free-up the phone lines, give students more TV channels with a clearer picture, and much faster computer access.

"This upgrade will help students have state-of-the-art technology to prepare them for the workplace in the next millennium," stated Gov. Tommy Thompson. in announcing the release of the money.

Governor Thompson chairs the State Building Commission comprised of legislative leaders, administrative staff and citizens who select projects for funding.

Those at UW-RF heading the upgrade hope the rewiring project will supply students with the instruments needed to meet the demands of today's technology needs.

Students at UW-RF already have the ability to take more than a score of courses using technology to view lectures over campus cable television network or to participate in coursework via the Internet. According to Campus Planner Dale Braun, this is just the beginning of web-based classes. Braun predicts an explosion in the use of technology as professors put exercises on the Web for students to download at the their convenience.

Also, whole Web-based courses will soon be on the Internet for students to take both in the residence halls or anywhere in the world and receive college credit.

"Because of the rewiring project, UW-RF will remain a top competitor in the University of Wisconsin System," Braun said.

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