Adapting to change: Lab Evaluation Project

Otts 127 after remodel
January 25, 2016

In Spring 2015 the IT Prioritizations committees (made up of faculty, administration, and Information Technology representatives) ordered an evaluation of campus computer labs for potential reduction, redesign, or elimination.  This charge came in direct response to changes within the campus community:

  • Students bringing more computing devices to campus
  • ITS rolling out the Virtual Desktop which provides access to lab software on personal devices
  • An increasing need for upgrades to lab equipment and software

The Lab Evaluation Project team, lead by IT Support Services Director Tonya Stappert, solicited feedback from employees and students via in-lab and on-the-go surveys, collected utilization data from Lab Stats  (software the monitors system usage), developed and applied criteria, and conducted interviews with various stakeholders.  The team coordinated its efforts with the Classroom Utilization committee. In July 2015 the Lab Evaluation team recommended reducing the 1,458 lab computer systems by 97-107 systems (approximately 7%) as part of Phase 1.

Reductions have taken several forms.  For example, a prior decision to move classes from a basement lab in Karrmann Library to a more appropriate space in Ottensman Hall allowed the reduction of one full lab.  The newer systems in Karrmann B12 replaced older systems in Otts 127, essentially eliminating 24 systems.

A small rarely-used lab in Ottensman Hall was reduced to one presenter station, opening the room for wider use as a traditional classroom and reducing the need to maintain underused systems.  In light of reduction efforts, the Biology department created a mobile lab of 25 thin clients on a cart, allowing faculty to turn any room into a computer lab when needed, freeing up much-needed space for non-lab classes.

To date, reductions have exceeded Phase 1 goals:

Area # Systems reduced as of 1/21/16 (% of area’s systems)
College of EMS 57 (10.29%)
College of BILSA 50 (10.89%)
College of LAE 6 (.037%)
Academic Affairs 17 (29.31%)
Student Affairs 0 (0%)
Other (GCA labs) 0 (0%)

To compensate for lab reductions, the university strives to meet the needs of a more mobile community with solutions like bring-your-own-device (BYOD) spaces, an enhanced virtual environment, and updated wi-fi across campus.

The goals of these efforts were identified in the Huron Efficiency Study of 2012 and are aligned with four of the five IT Strategic Plan initiatives: deliver a student-centered IT experience; elicit and apply data insights; provide a resilient and a secure infrastructure; and pursue pragmatic solutions.

Full details on the Lab Evaluation Project can be found in its project charter and resulting recommendations.

If you have questions regarding this project or its progress, please contact project lead, Tonya Stappert, at

Contributed by Tonya Stappert, Director of ITS Support Services with Deb Meyer, ITS Communications & Training Coordinator


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