Students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., have one less worry: They no longer have to fight with their roommate over using the phone?or even the remote control.
The school’s 14 dorms recently underwent a technology overhaul; now each resident has a separate telephone line and voice mail, 50-channel cable connection, and wireless link to the Internet and Howard’s network.
One would surmise that there will be no more squabbling about missed phone messages or accusations of hogging the Net. In theory, two roommates could have two of everything working at once, one TV tuned in to CNN and another on VH1. Called Port-per-Pillow, the $10.4 million project gives each student living on campus three ports to access three technologies. Consequently, Howard’s 4,013 resident students will be more knowledgeable about technology than their alumni counterparts were on graduation day (the dorms didn’t even have cable access a year ago).
“You visit a student in the dorms and the TV is on, the stereo and the computer are on,” says Interim Vice Provost and CIO Charles W. Moore. “Everything’s on at once and they’re on the phone, but they’re being productive.”
The project took only six months to complete and included a network infrastructure from Siemens and Cisco. It was part of Howard’s Strategic Framework for Action program, which started five years ago and aimed to modernize the campus. Other improvements have included giving students wireless cards for mobile access to the network, adding computer centers to the dorms and building the Digital Auditorium?a theater that has been transformed into a modern lecture hall with wireless technology, cameras and microphones for easy interaction between a large room of students and the professor. As a result of all the work, Moore says, students will have higher technology standards after graduation.
“When students leave, they’re not only knowledgeable and prepared, but they’re going to push hard to have at least the technology they have here,” he says.