Students and technology converge at ITCC
By HANNAH BRATTON
After on-campus construction for nearly two years, the University of Mary Washington’s Information and Technology Convergence Center (ITCC) finally opened to the community last week with a multitude of attractions that excited students and faculty alike.
Though open to the public, not all spaces of the building are completely up and functioning, and some changes to the initial plans have been made. Originally intended as a 24/7 study spot for students, implementing this proved difficult due to budget cuts.
However, the hours of the Convergence Center are flexible, according to the Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker.
“The Convergence Center will work to accommodate student needs. Although it is not officially open 24/7, students may stay there past the official closing hours in order to finish their projects,” said Rucker. “Students will not be thrown out of the Convergence Center. The goal is that students are able to maximize their capabilities for collaboration in this facility.”
The new building features a variety of interactive spaces that allow students to work together and share ideas.
“In the Convergence Center, curricular and co-curricular come together,” said Jeffrey McClurken, head of operations at the ITCC. “It’s oriented around students working together with wide access to digital tools and shared spaces. Students will have the technological support they need to utilize the capabilities of the twenty-first century,” said McClurken.
Located on the first floor is the recently relocated UMW IT help desk, a technological training lab, a digital recording studio and a digital auditorium.
The technological training lab is currently used to train employees and student aides, particularly in information technology. However, it will soon be available for open student use. The digital recording studio and digital auditorium are not currently in use, but expected to be completed during late September to early October.
The second floor provides the direct entrance to the building from Campus Walk and houses the information desk, conference rooms and the media wall. The media wall is the focal point of the floor, with 43 different screens programmed for video input display.
According to McClurken, the media wall is not intended to be a digital sign, but rather a means of presenting student work. This floor is also entirely visible to the outside through the glass walls.
“The intention was to create a transparent environment; not only mentally through shared spaces and classrooms, but to make it physically open and transparent as well,” said McClurken.
In a similar fashion, the mediascapes on the second floor provide a single screen to which six computers can input data and information. Next to every provided computer there is an open space to facilitate communal learning. The mediascapes and computer placement further encourage the intended environment of intellectual community.
The third floor houses three digitally enabled classrooms, a connection to the second floor of Simpson Library, a digitization lab to compile special collections, niches for study and small group learning, a teleconferencing classroom and a quiet study area composed of desks with overhanging mesh petals.
The fourth floor houses the Speaking Center and Writing Center. This floor contains an incubator classroom in which professors can try out new concepts before they are applied on a larger scale, as well as a new, secure data center.
“There’s a lot of really cool things to do there,” said Ellen O’Brien, junior political science major. “I’m really excited to use the computer stations and the other new resources that are available there.”
Though five years in the making, students appear to be excited for the ITCC.
“I think it has great potential to be used for group projects, and it’s wonderful to have an option other than the library for a place to study,” said freshman Alexsandria Lester. “It’s also nice that this building is so contemporary, especially in comparison to the other buildings.”
Students are encouraged to come explore the new space, take advantage of the technology or take a spin in the unique red cylindrical chairs on the fourth floor.
“The mixing of fun and serious spaces is what makes it unique on campus,” said McClurken. “That’s where the convergence center derives its name from; the idea of these elements converging.”