CBA says new Grawn area will offer best technology, better opportunities for students

Students upset about the closing of Grawn's computer lab should be pleased to know that a state of the art classroom is on schedule to be completed.

The new area will include subsections of breakout rooms for smaller teamwork sessions and should be completed by the start of second semester.

"There's never enough state money to do exactly what you want, but we've received a very generous $500,000 gift from the Isabella Bank, which launched the whole thing," said Charles Crespy, College of Business Administration dean.

He said the new technology will bring a level of sophistication currently unavailable elsewhere in the college.

"Right now, for example, say you're in a negotiating class. It's hard to negotiate in a classroom against a team that's fifteen feet away from you," Crespy said, "and with the construction we're creating spaces more consistent with what we're trying to do."

There are ten breakout rooms planned for the new space, and each will be named for individual donors.

"By doing that, we create reserve funds for keeping the technology updated," Crespy said, "because it's not enough to buy new technology and not update it; times change quicker than technology does."

Crespy said the college is now scheduling hybrid classes in the new space. For example, on Tuesday, the class will meet in one of the traditional Grawn classrooms, and on Thursday the class will meet in the new space and breakout rooms where the faculty member can oversee the teamwork.

Stan Pope, director of technology at the CBA said the idea of computer labs was losing favor, and the new virtual lab technology being developed will be better.

"One of the best things about the virtual desktop, from a technological standpoint, is with a virtual desktop I can have someone come to me with a piece of software and if it's an emergency, we can get it on the virtual machines in a day," Pope said, "and with the regular desktops it could take a week or a weekend."

Pope said the new Grawn room will have some of the newest technology on campus.

"The breakout rooms will have a big screen television with a computer hanging behind it so you can display things in a group setting," Pope said.

One of the breakout rooms will be able to be divided with a wall with a big screen for the students to hold teleconferences with one another, Pope said.

"It will really mirror what happens in the real business world," Pope said.

Pope said the college has lost some of the computing power that's in the old Grawn computer lab, but in the long run it will be more beneficial to students so they can build teamwork and collaboration skills.

Additionally, with the new virtual machines, a student can download the client and log in with their own computers and have access to their UDrive and to printing.

"Using the virtual desktops has the advantage that students can bring their computers to class and continue their work when they leave," Pope said.

Crespy said industrial quality printers will be located in the new area with a technically-trained attendant to ensure minimal problems with the machinery.

"In this environment, it's not enough to prepare our students to work for somebody else because somebody else might not be hiring. We want them to be able to choose whether they want to work for somebody else or be their own boss," Crespy said.