sealPurdue News

August 2000

Management education has seen the future,
and it's wireless

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Jerry Brower once dreamed of performing advanced computer networking operations on his laptop computer while lounging in the spring sun on the lawn of the Memorial Union.

The Purdue University computer science major was a bit ahead of his time, the Internet and the available wireless computing technology available in the late 1980s.

But now – as a network administrator for the Krannert School of Management – he's making it possible for today's graduate students to go wireless. A network card that costs $160 gives Krannert students wireless access to the Purdue networks and the Internet via their laptops.

They can do research on the Krannert and library networks, check their e-mail, or surf the Internet not only outside in the Krannert courtyard and on the Union lawn but also in the Krannert Building lobby, known as the Drawing Room, where students gather to study and socialize, and in the library. This summer, additional areas in the Krannert Building will begin being wired without wires.

The introduction of wireless networking dovetails nicely with Purdue's engineering heritage and Krannert programs' emphasis on computer technology, according to Brower. "We have a reputation as a techno business school, so our students have expectations of a high-technology information environment."

The broadband, high-speed wireless technology only became available about six months ago, according to Michael Sinnott, director of Krannert's Computing Center information technology applications. Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is also introducing the wireless technology beginning in the summer.

The implementation of state-of-the-art wireless technology owes a debt to the past, though. "We wanted to expand students' usable workspace, but to install wired network connections in our 40-year-old building would have cost about $1,000 per computer connection," Sinnott said.

"Our master's degree students in particular have a heavy reliance on technology – Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, calendaring and e-mail. We realized that a computer lab was not a suitable place for breakout space or to do team projects or group work. We found that wireless in the Drawing Room offered a more natural, conference-room type of environment."

Over Christmas break, Brower and Sinnott started equipping the Drawing Room with a transmitting device and recruited 11 master's degree students to test the system with their laptops and network cards the school provided. By the time they'd finished expanding the network to the library, other applications became apparent.

"This changes where and how students work," Sinnott said. "Our philosophy is to make it available and let it grow."

The reaction initially has been positive, according to Brower. The students who tested the wireless system with their laptops didn't want to give up their network cards when the first phase of testing was over.

The cost for the equipment and remodeling to set up the wireless network for three floors of the building was about $8,500, according to Sinnott. The equipment is upgradable, Sinnott said. Students can also access the system with hand-held computing devices equipped with a network card.

The wireless experience of students will grow into Krannert's new building, where wireless connections are planned for the public areas and even the halls.

The Krannert School is in the midst of a campaign to raise $32 million to finance a building that will be located across the street from the existing Krannert Building at the corner of State and Grant streets. The campaign also seeks $23 million to fund scholarships, endowed professorships and high-technology equipment.

Sources: Michael Sinnott, (765) 494-4513,

Jerry Brower, (765) 496-2382,

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Related Web site: Krannert building plans

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