North Texas Daily

UNT technology at the cutting edge

UNT technology at the cutting edge

UNT technology at the cutting edge
November 18
14:37 2016

From cloud services to a new plasma cutter for the College of Visual Arts and Design, technology at UNT is on the cutting edge.

“The scope of technology on campus is very broad,” senior director of academic computing and user services Philip Baczewski said.  “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the classroom experience here on campus.”

With the constant growth in technological development, students said they are satisfied with the level of technology at UNT.

“Whatever you need to do you can find it anywhere on campus,” kinesiology junior Alexa Rowan said. “I transferred from Colin County Community College where I basically had to fight to use a computer. Here, there’s never a struggle to be on the internet.”

Academic computing

This semester, UNT added to its toolkit, offering students more options for research. Students can use Adobe, animation, song-writing and other production tools with Lynda.

Baczewski said cloud service is useful through UNT’s Eagle Connect email system and allows the full speed of the applications, so that students can use excel, word or powerpoint through the internet. Even on their phones.

Data Infrastructures

Baczewski said another cloud service UNT has adopted is an application called Sales Force, a customer relationship management system used by people in marketing and business development. Sales Force has been in use at UNT for about a year now.

“It’s a great way to interact with people and keep track of those interactions,” Baczewski said. “We are using it for student advising to have a record of your previous visits, so you don’t have to retell your story every time you come in to an advisor.”

Clark said UNT uses an extremely large data warehouse called SAS to model forecasting and regression modeling. This program allows UNT to look at trends that impact academic achievement and plan accordingly.

The expenses for high performance computing comes to about $1.3 million spread over three years. This comes through grants and causes no tuition increase.

Classroom Support

UNT is developing the classroom experience across campus in a variety of ways. One department that has seen great development is the College of Visual Arts & Design, which uses technologically advanced tools that are available to any department on campus.

“The college of visual arts is looking to different kinds of technology and fabrication tools that can be used to help students prepare for the tools they’ll need to be able to use when they leave the college,” General Access Computer Lab Manager Kenneth ‘Kacey’ Klose said. “We’re constantly trying to find ways to encourage people to come over and use them.”

CVAD has implemented 3D computers and 3D printers, which are filament-based printers that use a plastic-based filament to create 3D physical objects from digital 3D models. Students can use 3D models like Rhino or ZBrush and then generate their models physically.

“3D printing is very big now because we can visualize things people have not been able to see before,” Clark said. “They can create models of things that can’t be seen to see what they would feel or look like were they to be visible to the human eye.”

These printers have been used by students in engineering for prototyping, and material science to render chemical make-ups. At CVAD, students are using them for sculptures, and metal-working.

“With the digital fabrications base downstairs, we make a jump up to resin printers, which have a much higher level of detail,” Klose said. “The laser cutters downstairs will cut, edge or burn virtually any material. They’ve done testing with anything from etching paper to cutting corian, which is a marble-like substance. Then, there are the CNC Routers and the CNC Plasma which will cut anything up to 3/4 inch steel into whatever shape is necessary.”

All the equipment at CVAD is used out of fees that are already collected, so they are simply reallocating the funds for new equipment that students wouldn’t be able to afford on their own.  All of the equipment that is not downstairs is free to every student outside of the CVAD department at UNT.

UNT’s Technological Future

With all of these advances UNT looks into the future.

Clark said UNT has an IT think tank, a group of 17 senior faculty members, who figure out what’s possible in the next 3-5 years by finding out what needs to be put in the classroom to help learning and help faculty to best teach the class. He said one direction UNT headed in the next 3-5 years is having 3D printing of organs.

“What we try to do is anticipate where the needs are and concentrate technology where instruction is being delivered,” Clark said.

About Author

Jonathan Lichtenwalter

Jonathan Lichtenwalter

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