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New Computer Lab in Phillips Opening Fall 2008

April 10, 2008

by The Forum

Claremont McKenna students will soon see major changes in student computing on campus. The first change will be a 24 hour, 21 workstation computer lab on the north side of Phillips Hall. Ryal Poppa '57 (last name pronounced “Poppy”), has offered to pay for the new lab. According to a CMC Alumni Association Newsletter, “Ryal Poppa ’57 surprised fellow alumni, faculty, and staff during reunion weekend when he announced his pledge of $250,000 to help create a new computer lab.”

“He was at alumni weekend chatting with some students who mentioned that there wasn't enough lab space. He wanted to do something about that, so he decided to give funding for a lab,” says Dr. Cynthia Humes, Chief Technology Officer.

Dr. Humes estimates the new lab to cost roughly $200,000 ($70k construction, $50k wiring and electric, $60k for networking, workstations and equipment, and $20k furniture).

The lab’s layout and design was organized by Micheal Malsed, Assistant Director for Student Technology Services, Candace Adelberg ’10, Nico Ratazzi ’09, and a group of ASCMC Senators. No outside firm was retained in the design or construction of the lab—everything is in-house.

The main purpose of the lab is to reduce overcrowding of the other labs and to provide a convenient place for students to do work. According to Mr. Malsed, the design of the lab is also intended to provide lots of individual space. “Let’s also make it a place where you can get a lot of people around a computer to do group work,” said Malsed.

CMC’s Central Facilities Department will begin demolition of the apartment on the north side of Phillips when students move out this May. The apartment, which currently houses students, was approved for demolition by the Dean of Students’ office and Committee on Academic Computing in anticipation of the new dorm’s opening this fall. Fid Castro, Assistant Dean of Students, worked with students and the Committee to find a space for the lab. Other options for the lab’s location included the new dorm and Bauer South, but Phillips was chosen for its location and availability of space.

The lab will measure 53' by 16' on the inside, with extra patio space outside the lab for wireless access. The lab, which is not yet named, is expected to be completed this fall.

According to the design, the lab will be accessible through the outside only, so Phillips residents will have to go around the building to get in. This is because Phillips, unlike Stark Hall, is not substance-free, and because it would be cost-prohibitive to tear down a bearing wall to build a door. The layout of the lab also makes room for a special room for RTAs to work on hardware and software issues, in addition to the possibility of other uses.

In addition to the new lab in Phillips, the Kravis Center (the West Campus Project where Pitzer Hall and the Admission Office now stand), will include a larger computer lab when it is built. That lab, which is not expected to be completed until at least 2009, will include laptop-friendly couches and floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

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