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Computing Facilities

The students at SMSU have several labs in which they may work.  We use these to expose our majors to a variety of platforms and programming environments.  We want our graduates to be comfortable adapting to new technologies.  There are four microcomputer labs in Charter Hall (CH) that are available to all students.  CH 126 has 30 Windows machines, CH 102 has 25 Windows machines and CH 128 has 25 Macintoshes. Each of these can be scheduled for classes or when no class is scheduled, are open for student use.  In addition, CH 104 has a variety of Windows and Macintosh machines and is never scheduled for class

For the majority of our Computer Science classes we have a teaching lab with 24 SunRay 3 thin-client devices being served by a Sun SPARC Enterprise T5240 Sever in Science and Math 230.  We also have an open lab in Science and Math 226 that contains additional SunRay 3 thin-client devices also served by the Enterprise T5240.  These labs being used for class for the first time this semester. Formerly, Science and Math 230 was the location of the open lab and the teaching lab was in a much smaller room in a different building. The Enterprise T5240 Sever was purchased in Fall 2010 from a stimulus grant. This Fall we purchased 50 new Sun Ray 3 thin-clients through a grant from Schwans and several years of department carry over. The original Sun equipment was purchased in 2001 through a combined grant from The Schwan Food Company, SUN Microsystems and MnSCU.

In addition to the labs we have three mobile stations equipped with a laptop and a high lumen projector.  These allow us the ability to bring computing facilities to the classroom.  In this way we do not have to monopolize the small but growing number of Smart classrooms on campus and have access to the specialized software only used by the Computer Science program.


Until 2007, the Computer Science program had a dedicated support person who administered the UNIX system and labs. In 2007, it was decided (by administrators who are no longer at SMSU) to eliminate this position as part of an effort to reduce a budget deficit. This was done without consultation with our department.

As a result, the duties of administering the UNIX system have been divided between a member of the computer science faculty and a staff member from IT services. The duties are on top of regular load. The consequences are that administrative and maintenance tasks are not able to be done in a timely manner. There is also little time for strategic planning for equipment replacement or research into new products and services.

The IT Services department at SMSU is excellent. However, they are stretched extremely thin. Critical tasks are always handled quickly and effectively. Items that are needed but are not critical often have to be postponed.

Computer Science Operating Budget

In past years, unless a program requested a change and demonstrated a need, the amount allocated for operating expenses remained the same. The table below shows the budget balances, amount spent and carryover since fiscal year 2009.

Beg Balance Carryover Aval Balance Amt Spent
FY12  $5,675.00  $-    $1,090.35  $4,584.65
FY11  $5,675.00  $6,528.60  $8,268.76  $3,934.84
FY10  $5,675.00  $5,240.56  $6,528.60  $4,386.96
FY09  $5,675.00  $3,119.98  $5,279.72  $3,515.26
FY12 vs FY11  $6,528.60  $7,178.41  $(649.81)

As an example, the expenditures for FY 2011 break down as follows.

FY 2011 Expenditures  
Student Payroll $2,040.00
Duplicating $228.59
Telephone and Postage  $43.37
Supplies  $673.59
Miscellaneous  $949.29
Total  $3,934.84

Until recently, programs and departments were allowed to accumulate any carryover. The Computer Science program was saving its carryover for a thorough upgrade of The Schwan's IT Learning Center, our primary computing lab.  In August 2011, the decision was made to change the budget process and carryovers were frozen.  The Mathematics and Computer Science department petitioned for the return of the carryover in order to complete the upgrade and it was granted.  However, it was just announced that starting with the budget for fiscal year 2013, programs must submit a budget request.  We are currently working on next year’s budget proposal. We are unsure what the effect this change will have on our ability to make sure our computing facilities up to date.

In addition to our operating budget, we received a grant of money and equipment from Schawn's Foods for our lab upgrade. During fiscal year 2011, Schwans donated $8,200 toward the upgrade and purchased 26 22-inch Samsung Monitors.

In fiscal year 2010, we received a $20,000 stimulus grant for the purchase of a new Sun server.

Last Modified: 5/11/17 11:35 AM