WCSU computer science majors get IT done

DANBURY, CONN. Western Connecticut State University students William Callahan and Greg Heimbuecher were both working in the WCSU Information Technology & Innovation department when they realized what they learned in their computer courses may be a lifesaver for their colleagues working in the staffed computer labs at the university.
In January, WCSU launched a new computer program that Callahan, a computer science major, and Heimbuecher, who is studying computer science and management information systems, created as student developers for IT.

The staffed computer labs at Western do everything from helping students print out their homework, to teaching one-on-one tutorials on more than 10 programs such as Microsoft Excel and Adobe Photoshop. The six student-run computer labs across two campuses require roughly 40 Computer Center assistants, 10 training specialists and nine managers, all student positions.

The new program allows WCSU students to quickly and easily sign up for training appointments with IT staff. The former application had worn out its welcome, so to speak, and it became difficult and time consuming for IT staff to keep track of hours and inventory.

“We built the program from the ground up,” said Callahan. The whole process took about nine months. Alex Gerner, who graduated with a computer science degree from WCSU in December, was also on the application design team.

“Workers had to enter the same information in multiple places, and were frequently locked out of editing documents for hours at a time,” Heimbuecher said.

“Additionally, students and staff who want free training in one of the many programs we teach had to come to a staffed computer lab to make an appointment. We thought that it would be great if we could create a website that students could use to discover new software to learn, and also easily create the appointments anywhere an Internet connection and computer is available.”

After identifying these problems and their solutions, Heimbuecher and Callahan met with WCSU Director of Information Systems John DeRosa, and his staff of Web App developers and pitched the idea.
DeRosa liked the idea and partnered with Rebecca Woodward, Director of IT and Media Services, to turn the project into a Student Developer Program for Computer Science students.

“It’s a win for both our Computer Science/MIS students and WCSU,” said DeRosa. “Our student developers gain valuable work experience while they assist IT&I in delivering the much-needed IT services our university depends on.”

Callahan worked extensively on the application beginning in March, and Heimbuecher joined him at the end of the semester in May. The ITI department set up office space and the students spent the summer working on coding the Web applications with ITI support.

After 50,000 lines of code and another semester, the Computer Lab Operations Web application was ready to launch for the start of the spring 2016 semester.

“The new Web application is for the employees of the computer labs, and will help them do their jobs faster and more efficiently,” said Heimbuecher. “By improving communication between what is going on in the labs and the full-time staff, IT&I can provide the best service possible to the students, faculty and staff at Western.”

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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