After months of delays, the construction on the Eaton Computer Lab is nearly complete. All that remains of the project, which began last June, is the installation of a permanent handicap ramp and various finishing touches.
The new lab features technological and aesthetic improvements, as well as amended hours in order to better suit students’ computing needs.
One of the most notable improvements is a significant increase in the number of computer terminals. Before the renovations, demand for computers surpassed the 65 available workstations during peak hours, leaving long lines and nervous students waiting eagerly to finish last-minute assignments. To alleviate overcrowding, Eaton was redesigned to accommodate 104 PCs and 50 new iMacs. The majority of the computers are new and relatively powerful, according to the director of Technical Services, Tony Sulprizio.
The incorporation of advanced software in the lab is another of its main attractions. Over 30 core-specific computer programs such as Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD) are currently available. Students will also benefit from Eaton’s 100 megabit Internet connection, which is ten times faster than the Ethernet connection in most Tufts dorms.
The improvements to Eaton Lab are not just technological, as the general utility of the lab was also improved by the renovations. Poor lighting, a common complaint aimed at the pre-renovated lab, was altered in the new design.
“All the shades in Eaton are independently controlled, so that certain windows can block the glare of the sun, while others still allow natural light in,” Sulprizio said. In addition, all lighting in Eaton is directed towards the ceiling, which disperses it more evenly across the room and reduces glare on the screens.
Ergonomically correct chairs, high-resolution monitors, and better lighting are all aimed at reducing eyestrain and stress from extended computer use.
The lab’s hours of operations were changed to better accommodate the times that members of the Tufts community need to use the computers – namely late at night.
“We used to be open 8 a.m.-midnight during the week, but we found that most students didn’t start using the lab until 11 a.m., and wanted later hours during the night. To fix that, we now open at 9 a.m. and close at 2 a.m.,” Sulprizio said.
With powerful computers to run coveted programs, a staffed user consultant desk to assist students, and some professors requiring students to complete assignments in Eaton, the new lab is expected to see significant traffic. Though its completion was behind schedule, many students say it was worth the wait.
“It’s really, really nice. They did a good job,” said Valerie Cemat, a sophomore who frequents Eaton to avoid the distracting atmosphere of her dorm room.
Senior Noah Daniels, who was in the lab yesterday to e-mail his r?©sum?© to a perspective employer, appreciates the increase in resources for Macintosh uses. But to Daniels, the biggest benefit was the reduction in noise.
“Since iMacs have no fans, that entire half of the lab is almost silent,” said Daniels.
The increased availability of Macintosh computers in Eaton allowed the University to revamp the former Macintosh lab in Jackson Hall. Half the lab was converted to classrooms, and the other half became an “instruction only” lab, similar to the Marc Lab in Tisch Library. The Jackson lab will host computer workshops and can be used by professors for their classes.
The most glaring sign that Eaton is back in business? Tufts’ undergraduate Admissions Office has returned the location to its tour route, showcasing the lab to hordes of prospective students.