Lawrence Tech Goes Wireless

July 26, 2001

“Look Ma, no wires,” may be the subject line of many emails sent by students at Lawrence Technological University this fall. Walls and wires won’t confine Lawrence Tech’s laptop- toting students anymore. The University is the first in Michigan to offer students wireless access to the Internet from anywhere within its academic cluster; be it Cafe Lawrence, the library, a lab, a classroom, or a bench outside the new Technology and Learning Center.

“It’ll provide even more flexibility for accessing email or doing research,” said Michael Batarseh, a mechanical engineering senior and member of Lawrence Tech’s 2002 SAE Formula Car team. “Many of us work full time and go to school, so a wireless network will make it easier for us to get things done between work and class.”

Over the past several months, the University has spent over $1 million on information technology (IT) initiatives on campus, including hardware and software upgrades supporting student laptops, and an additional $600,000 this summer to provide wireless access capability throughout campus. Provided by Wireless Information Networks, the Lucent Avaya technology will give students full access to library databases and electronic files, email and the Internet from virtually anywhere. “This is very exciting,” said Lewis Walker, provost. “A wireless campus ensures that Lawrence Tech students learn in a technological environment that keeps pace with the world. We’re providing the latest wireless standard that operates at a data rate of up to 11 megabits per second. Our students will have the power of wires without all the strings attached.”

Each of Lawrence Tech’s specially branded, high-powered TechBook laptops is being upgraded with new software — a process that occurs each year as part of the technology fee each student pays — and the necessary wireless card is being added. “Going wireless makes these valuable learning tools that much more useful,” said Walker. “Between classes students can send their professor an email, read the paper online, or research a project on the Web. Unfettered by access lines, students no longer are limited to logging-on in a classroom or lab.”

Lawrence Tech began providing laptop computers to incoming freshmen last fall, after a successful pilot program with sophomores in the College of Architecture in the spring of 2000. Late this August, a second group of freshmen will be issued the state-of-the-art TechBooks, boosting the campus total to 2,200. By 2004, students at all levels will have them.

Lawrence Technological University enrolls some 5,000 students and offers nearly 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Lawrence Tech pioneered the offering of day and evening classes 70 years ago, and now has a growing number of weekend programs. It also is home to the Advanced Technology Academy, a charter high school offering a challenging curriculum closely linked to the university’s academic mission.