TTU Dorms Now Completely Wired for Students' Own Computers

A few years ago, Erin Hinton's parents would have had an easier time moving their daughter into her first college dorm room. They might have lugged clothes, a radio and even a small refrigerator up four flights of stairs on a 97 degree day, but not a computer, key board, monitor and printer.

But students moving into Tennessee Tech University's dorms this week are wired about being wired. As students ready for the first week of classes, they will find Internet connections in each room courtesy of the university.

"Having a computer is not just a convenience anymore, it's a necessity," said Hinton, a freshman nursing major from Oak Ridge.

"Students can now access class assignments, search the library holdings and conduct research any time of the day or night from their rooms," said Roger Dickson, TTU's director of residential life. "We are one of the few Tennessee Board of Regents' universities to have full access in every dorm room on campus."

The Residential Internet Connection, or ResNet, is free and doesn't require a modem, phone lines or an Internet service provider. The phone lines won't be tied up by student computer use, and every room has at least two jacks so students sharing a room can each have a computer.

Students will still have access to computer labs located in many dorms across campus, but Dickson says more than 50 percent of students living on campus already own their own computers and prefer to use them. From their computers they can register for classes, check their grades and even pay bills online.

Hinton's mom, Lynne, said she's impressed with the convenience offered by having a computer just a few steps away. As her mom untangled computer wires, Hinton said she thinks she'll be using the computer primarily for research, papers and keeping in contact with her relatives and friends.

"It will be a great way to keep in touch with my mom at work, my grandparents and my friends without running up the long distance phone bill, which I'm famous for," said Hinton.

Other students, no doubt, will use their Internet access for entertainment as well as research. Frank Bush, TTU's information technology systems support manager, says there are no restrictions on Internet use, other than the standard campus computer use policy. But a technological "firewall" has been put in place so off-campus computer users have restricted access to students' computers. It's a safeguard to stop malicious use of campus computers by someone off campus.

In addition to the dorms, Tech Village apartments east of Willow Avenue also have ResNet connections; plans are underway to provide access to the remainder of the apartments.

The upgrades were completed by 18 students working in teams over the summer. The total cost of the project, about $125,000, was funded through TTU's Office of Residential Life, not through student technology access fees. There's no charge for students to use the service, but they must fill out an application with the information technology office and schedule to have their connections activated.

And not only are students glad to be wired, it seems to be mom-approved.

We went to Tech's web site and read all about the service and checked out the requirements for what kind of computer she needed," said Lynne Hinton. "I think it's great she can research and write a paper by just walking a few steps over to her computer."