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Mind the wires: How five students helped to power up WVU Tech’s new campus

Five WVU Tech students stop their work for a quick photo in one of the newly finished computer labs.

Employers know WVU Tech graduates for their work ethic, their breadth of knowledge and their ability to get to work on day one. Part of that reputation comes from the fact that Golden Bears spend a lot of time in experiential learning opportunities, undertaking internships and co-ops, volunteering on community service projects and working to put their classroom skills to the test in the real world.

Five WVU Tech students spent their summer doing just that. As the university completed its transition from Montgomery to Beckley, the crew logged countless hours packing delicate electronics, moving equipment from one campus to another and setting up hundreds of computers for faculty and staff.

Mike Webb, IT Manager at WVU Tech, oversaw the students during the project.

"It’s been a lot of hard work. They set up 500 computers during the summer. They set up around 300 faculty and staff systems in addition to 200 systems in nine dedicated computer labs throughout campus,” he said. 

While the students provided hands-on help during the move, the experience was about more than simply moving boxes.

"These students were responsible for getting each of these systems up and running. Besides just setting up systems, they've also gained valuable skills in inventory management and learned how to work in a team on a major project,” he said.

Information systems major Adam Cantrell is from Tornado, West Virginia. He’ll be a senior this fall. He thought that working this summer would be a good way to get some real-life project experience before heading into his senior design course.

His contribution to the summer project included working on an inventory management system. Moving hundreds of computers from one building to another is one thing. Keeping track of hundreds of computers and all of the equipment necessary to keep them running and connected is quite another.

"I spent about two weeks developing an inventory software system,” he said. “Right now, the system keeps track of what computers we have on campus and where they're at. We even keep track of where the wall jacks are on each setup so we can trace a problem right down to the wire."

Cantrell wants to get into IT or database administration after college. He said he enjoys being able to design something new that can help people. For him, the project was a chance to work with a “client” on a project that meets those goals.

"It was a good experience, sitting down and working with the department to try to work out what they wanted out of this system. Then we went through a design phase to set the details for making it work. It was a great experience to learn from and to move forward with in my career," he said.

After each of the university departments was moved, the group cleared and packed 25 boxes of old and outdated computer equipment and electronics for recycling.

For Webb, the student crew was invaluable to his team during the transition.

“We could not have made the move to Beckley in such a short period of time without their help. Each of them have played a critical role in setting up the computer systems on the Beckley campus,” he said.

Pictured above (left to right): Philip McKie, a sophomore computer science major from Buckhannon, West Virginia; Benjamin Culkin, a senior computer science student from Roanoke, Virginia; Lucas Darnell, a senior computer science major from Alpoca, West Virginia; Adam Cantrell, a senior information systems student from Tornado, West Virginia; and Jared Miller, a senior computer science major from Charleston, West Virginia.