As summer comes to William & Mary and the number of students on campus decreases, the amount of construction and renovations increase. This summer, a number of residence halls and administrative buildings are being revamped, and IT is lending a hand with the technological side of all this construction – especially in newly-converted student housing.
Connecting Richmond Hall to Campus
The biggest renovation for IT this summer is the work on the new Richmond Hall, formerly the Days Inn on Richmond Road. IT’s main job in the process is to make sure the building will be set up to use the campus network. “We’re extending the William & Mary network all the way to Richmond Hall, and then wiring all the rooms for wireless and wired Internet access and cable TV,” Network Manager Scott Fenstermacher described.
The first step in the process was bringing wiring from campus to Richmond Hall. Because Richmond Hall is a completely new building for the William & Mary campus, underground wiring had to be installed and run from the Fraternity-Sorority Community Building out to the new residence hall.
To get to Richmond Hall, Network Engineer Jeff Jolly takes a golf cart from Jones Hall, down Brooks Street, and turning on Richmond Road, following along the exact path that IT took to bring wiring to the hall. Upon arrival, you see that all sorts of construction is happening at Richmond Hall—rooms are being painted, the roof is being re-shingled. Jolly’s main focus for the day is setting up the rooms for wireless access.
To give each room internet, Jolly will install a wireless access point in every other student room in the building. These access points look like small white boxes and are attached to the upper corner of the wall. By putting one in every other room, the wireless will reach through the whole building, providing all occupants with a speedy connection.
In order to set up each room for a wired connection as well, IT had to redo some of the basic wiring. Jolly points out the wire molding that runs to each outlet in the room now. Wire molding is where electrical wires are enclosed in a frame of molding that sits on top of the wall. This allows new electrical wires to be installed and run through the room without having to open up the wall.
Since the building dates back to the ‘50s, explained Jolly, all of the electricity actually had to be redone. That was one of the first tasks to be completed, and now the electricity in Richmond Hall is properly grounded and up to code.
IT is also helping to arrange the networking closets in Richmond Hall. To ensure every part of the building can be connected, there are multiple networking closets being set up. Though not completed yet, these closets are already filling up with server racks and stacks of blue wires that will run from the closets to each room. Jolly explains how setting up these network closets can be a time-consuming process because each individual wire has to be properly hooked up to the server rack.
Because Richmond Hall is set to open in the fall, there is plenty of work for IT to do as construction continues. Just a few short days after working on the wireless access points, Jolly returns to help install security cameras. To do so, Jolly has to be taken up on a lift about 20 feet high and work his way around the hall to different installation points. It is a slow, methodical process, but even in the summer heat wave, Jolly goes through the steps smoothly and efficiently.
As the summer goes on, Jolly and other members of the IT staff will be making many trips in their golf carts to Richmond Hall to help with the technological side of construction.
Additional Networking Projects Happening This Summer
- Landrum Hall: IT is helping to prepare the residence hall for the major renovations to come in the next year. “We are in the very early stages of doing Landrum,” Fenstermacher said. Currently, IT is in the process of moving telecommunications equipment out of Landrum Hall, a necessary first step so that the construction team has an easier time in their own renovations.
- Blow Memorial Hall: There will also be minor updates done in Blow Hall. IT will be replacing the generator in the telephone switch room of Blow, aiming to ensure redundancy between the generator in Blow and the back-up one at the School of Education.
- The Peninsula Center: IT will also be rewiring a new area of the Peninsula Center, part of the Mason School of Business. The Peninsula Center is located over in Newport News and hosts the Business School’s Flex MBA classes.