Students who frequent the Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building have had something new to be excited about since last October. Back then, Dalhousie welcomed students to its new computer lab located on the 4th floor. Equipped with an array of computers, sophisticated software, visual display capabilities, and sporting an innovative circular room design, the lab promises to meet the school’s learning needs for the foreseeable future.
Planning for the project began all the way back in 2014. Faced with aging tech resources, the school made the decision to invest in a new state-of-the-art computer lab. Using a combination of funds from the school’s information technology budget – as well as a gift from the Rowe endowment – preparation and work on the project began.
The first challenge faculty and administrators faced was deciding what the lab would look like. Studying other universities, it became clear that few of them had anything close to what they were planning. Those that did, though, were able to provide valuable insight into how to optimize such aspects as space and functionality.
One of the most difficult aspects, however, turned out to be relatively mundane: finding tables that could accommodate all the computers while still leaving ample desk space for students. To solve the problem, Dal had the tables custom manufactured; in the summer months before the lab opened, a team of five carpenters worked diligently in a machine shop on campus (next door to the Rowe, actually!) to craft the signature solid mahogany tables students enjoy today.
Now that it is complete, the lab plays host to a range of functions. Besides the obvious classes in such subjects as data analytics, information management, and ERP, it also enables a range of other events; in the brief time that it has been open, it has already hosted executive development, simulations, and training sessions. Most recently, it played host to the Nova Scotia government’s first ever Open Data Contest; using the lab’s resources and their own skills, students from across the province competed to come up with and build/prototype apps, analyze data, and create predictive modeling for promoting tourism, assisting new immigrants, and managing the province’s natural resources.
In the years to come, administrators are hopeful that the lab will act as a catalyst, highlighting both the potential and current capabilities of a faculty dedicated to preparing students for the forefront of technology and management.