It’s Wednesday afternoon in Brower Student Center and Al Berry, sophomore mechanical engineering major, is sitting on a couch, tapping away at the keyboard of his laptop and tracing his finger on its touch pad to move the cursor. His AOL Instant Messenger Buddy List fills the far right side of his screen and he’s just about to tackle a lab report or possibly check his e-mail.
As typical as his actions seem, Berry is actually doing something brand-new: accessing the Internet wirelessly from Brower Student Center.
As of January, Information Technology (IT) at the College completed wireless coverage of the student center, making it the third building on campus to have wireless Internet access, joining Holman Hall and the Science Complex.
Installing the data cables to access-point locations in the student center occurred within the last two months at the cost of about $1,500, according to Shawn Sivy, associate director of networking.
He said that so far this year, around 100 distinct users have taken advantage of the Wireless-at-TCNJ network at any of its three locations.
“Wireless Internet provides more mobility to create ad hoc work groups with faculty and other students,” Sivy said about the advantages of the network. “We hope that eventually there will be wireless coverage at all the popular congregation spots.”
The new library and Metzger Apartments will have wireless Internet access upon completion. Coverage of the lounges and main dining area of Eickhoff Dining Hall is now in progress.
In the meantime though, students like Christine Nystrom, sophomore English and special education major, will find it convenient to take their Internet-dependent work to a quiet cornerin Brower Student Center.
“I’d like to come here to write papers because there are less distractions than in the dorm,” she said. Nystrom said she hasn’t yet configured the wireless card for her laptop, but soon plans to access the Wireless-at-TCNJ Web site to learn how.
The Web site, tcnj.edu/~wireless, provides the steps for getting started.
According to vendor instructions, upon installing a wireless card, users need to configure it so that it associates with a nearby wireless access point in the building.
When users launch a Web browser, it should direct them to a login screen, where they can enter their College e-mail login and password. Internet applications can then be accessed within the range of the wireless network.
With both his laptop and marketing textbook opened on a table in Brower Student Center, John Jaskula, junior marketing major, was in the process of configuring his wireless card.
He had just retrieved the WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security key, an encrypted number that he needed for configuration.
“I wanted to get out of the room and work on my marketing paper,” he said.
He said that if he succeeded in accessing the wireless network, he might come to the student center to work more often.
Sivy recommended that students who experience complications in setting up their computers contact the IT helpdesk at extension 2660.
The Wireless-at-TCNJ Web site is another resource for finding advice on what kind of wireless adaptors to purchase, wireless coverage maps and updates on the growth of the College’s wireless network.
“We get a lot of questions from parents and prospective students, and even students here, (about wireless access) so we keep people up to date,” Sivy said.
Don’t expect wired technology to become a thing of the past quite yet though.
Sivy said that it remains a faster and more reliable way to access the Internet.
“Wireless is just supplemental technology,” he said. Fortunately, for many students at the College, that translates to added convenience.