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Updated computer cluster reopens

John Cameron | Wednesday, March 17, 2010

After several months of planning, renovations and setbacks, the LaFortune Student Center computer cluster, a popular workspace for students, reopened this week.

Some of the most notable renovations to the space include new carpet and color scheme.
“The new wall colors are calming and less depressing,” sophomore Carlos Zarazua said. “It should be better for stressful last minute studying and working on projects.”

LaFortune’s computer cluster had not been updated in 18 years, Brian Burchett, manager of Classroom and Cluster Services for the Office of Information and Technology, said in a Feb. 16 Observer article. In addition to a general remodeling of the outdated room, the layout was overhauled to reflect the transition from students using University-provided communal computers to personal laptops.

The change meant fewer actual computers, allowing for more open workspace, as well as two group study rooms, resulting in a layout more conducive to group work.

“I really like how it’s so open now. I liked when there were more computers but the open space more than makes up for it,” Zarazua said. “I guess it makes sense, as most people have laptops now anyway.”

The plans for the project began in spring 2008 but were not funded until recently. The first expected completion date was Feb. 1, and a more recent report indicated students could expect access to the cluster by the first week of March, in time for midterms.

Delays with some of the materials for the project postponed the finishing of trim work and furniture delivery, pushing back the completion of the cluster significantly.

“One of the things that delayed the project was getting the carpet from the manufacturer,” Burchett said. “It wasn’t really the fault of anyone at Notre Dame … the carpet manufacturer just had a later delivery than we thought.”

Burchett said students were helpful in the renovation process, and he hopes to bring students in on future projects.