Ayesha Asad
Mercury Staff

Project expands on previous efforts from Office of Information Technology

Amidst the ping-pong tables, eateries and reclining areas in the Student Union, the Office of Information Technology is planning to add a new element: a “knowledge bar.”

This knowledge bar will be located in the sitting area to the left of the lower level main entrance of the Student Union. Among the amenities available at the knowledge bar will be a technology help desk where students can fix their devices. It will also feature a CometPrint station, a password reset station, digital signs that advertise news and events, a reclining area and an area where students can experiment with new forms of technology.

Shannon Cepica, the Assistant Vice President at the Office of Information Technology, said that his hope is that the project will be completed by the beginning of the spring 2020 semester, but that it may be completed sooner.

“It’s a place to get help if you have issues with your computer, or just any of the applications that the university supports,” Cepica said. “It’s just a place to ask questions, if you’ve got questions — anything IT. And it’s also a place to learn.”

Dan Goodwin, the director of Student Union and Student Life Programs, helped come up with the idea.

“Over the last couple of years, Information Technology has set up a booth space on the second level of the Student Union during the first two weeks of school … and it’s going over extremely well,” Goodwin said. “So (we were) trying to have a partnership there to see, ‘How can we expand this? How can we do this on a more regular basis?’”

At the knowledge bar, training sessions will be held for students to become more attuned with the technological tools they have at their disposal. 

“If you’ve ever been to the Microsoft store or the Apple store, where they have little training sessions or somebody telling you about a product, they’ve got the microphone on and they’re giving you little demos. We’re going to be doing that throughout the days on the products we support, whether it’s Office 365 or maybe it’s Microsoft Teams or maybe it’s a new portal in Orion,” Cepica said. “That will hopefully enhance the student experience … This will give them the tools that they need that maybe they didn’t know they had.”

Cepica said that the Office of Information Technology plans to foster the spirit of innovation in students by providing them with access to new technological devices.

“We’re going to be putting devices out there, kind of like you would see in a Microsoft or Apple store, of things that are just brand new to the market,” Cepica said. “Maybe it’s not even on the market for general release and we just want our students to be able to check things out, whether it is a new computer or a new handheld device or … a 3D printer, or anything that we feel is very innovative that would enhance the student experience — we’re going to put those in front of the students at that knowledge bar.”

The bar’s hours of operation will be the same as the Student Union building, and it will be staffed primarily with student employees alongside a staff supervisor, Cepica said. The bar will also be more convenient for students living on campus, Goodwin said.

“We realize that going off-campus for things isn’t always easy, nor is it the most cost-effective solution in the world,” Goodwin said. “With this kind of project … it just makes it easier for students to tackle one more road bump in their way of student success.”

Aishah Khan, a psychology junior, said the addition of a knowledge bar would be beneficial to students.

“I think this will be a great addition to the Student Union, because it will allow students to become familiar with new and upcoming technology that they may or may not be able to afford,” Khan said. “I really hope that this project will help make technology more accessible to all students here on campus.”

Cepica said that he wanted to make the tools that students and staff have at their disposal more visible.

 “We want the students to be able to innovate in whatever their discipline is,” Cepica said. “And this is just another way to share in that innovation from a technology perspective.”